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Get a Nightlife: January 17 to 21, 2018

by Zahira Gutierrez @ 365 Things to Do in Houston

Find the can’t-miss events in Houston with our Day + Nightlife Guide for Wednesday, January 17 to Sunday, January 21, 2018. Also in January 2018 Top 15 Events This Month Top 10 Games & Sports Events Top 10 Food & Drink Events Top 9 Live Shows & Concerts Top 8 Plays & Performances Search Our […]

The post Get a Nightlife: January 17 to 21, 2018 appeared first on 365 Things to Do in Houston.

The Best Gifts for a Star Wars Superfan

The Best Gifts for a Star Wars Superfan

by Leah Bhabha @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening—is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?—but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that serious cook, or golf dad, or picky tween in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or at least a very helpful starting point. Today, 12 Star Wars superfans on the gifts (from toys, to T-shirts, to action figures, to waffle makers) they want for the holidays.


“I enjoy a good whiskey, especially with cool ice-cube molds, so I would definitely want this ice-cube tray. Denying the Death Star floating in and keeping my whiskey cold would just be rude.” —Jackson Duncan, “I have a degree in culture and media studies, an excuse for and necessitating a knowledge of Star Wars and other ‘nerd’ phenomena.”

Star Wars Death Star Silicone Ice Molds, 2 Pack
$8, Amazon


“I like the old-school Empire aesthetic and imagine they had good house china in those battleships. It would fit right in in my New York City apartment—like the Titanic house china in first class, but with a mod edge.” —Schuyler Vreeland, “banker by day, Star Wars enthusiast also by day.”

Star Wars Death Star Serving Platter
$22, Amazon


Star Wars fans are busy people. Not only do we have to balance work or school and friends and family, we also have to spend an inordinate amount of time on the internet dissecting every frame of the new film’s trailer and reading every possible theory about Rey’s parentage. So as we hustle off to work in the morning after a late night bingeing episodes of Rebels, clutching our R2-D2 thermoses and slinging our Boba Fett backpacks over our shoulders, there is often a need for sunglasses to mask our bleary eyes. I covet the Darth Vader sunglasses gift set from BoxLunch, which includes not only a slick pair of shades styled to mimic the helmet eyeholes of everybody’s favorite Sith lord, but also a sweet branded, hard-shell case and vivid Vader-print bag.” —Jen Markham, “member of both the 501st Legion Empire City Garrison and the Rebel Legion Echo Base.”

Star Wars Boba Fett Sunglasses Gift Set
$8, Amazon



“Something new this year, for Episode VIII, is the new species of Porg characters. The internet seems to have given its seal of approval for this cute new character. It’s your cozy new friend all winter.” —Paul Crewdson, “skipped school senior year with friends to buy tickets for the new Episode I film, then engaged in a parking-lot lightsaber battle.”

Star Wars Porgs Plush
$25, Amazon


“I would wear this when my daughter wears her Daddy’s Little Princess Star Wars onesie.” —Neyah White, “bartender, and at the risk of sounding like a complete jerk, a ‘real Star Wars fan.’ ”

I Am Your Father Shirt
$20, Red Bubble


“Close to slipping over to the dark side of merchandising, but not quite.” —Neyah White

Star Wars R2-D2 Coffee Press
$40, Amazon



“No Star Wars collection would be complete without an adorable Funko Pop! of your favorite character. I love them. My personal favorite is, of course, the great Ahsoka Tano, Anakin’s badass but lovable Padawan featured both in the canon TV series Clone Wars and (spoiler) others…” —Christian Karayannides, “attended the New York Philharmonic’s Star Wars Film Concert Series.”

Funko Pop! Star Wars Ahsoka Rebels
$23, Amazon



“I resent being told that I should ‘act like an adult’ all the time, so when I do have to do something very grown-up, like taking an investor meeting or doing a book signing, I find subtler ways to represent my fandoms. This blazer not only would do the trick, it would also go very well with my Darth Vader purse.” —Allison Robicelli, “chef, bon vivant, and Star Wars obsessive.”

Star Wars Symbols Ladies’ Blazer
$60, Think Geek


“Whether for Christmas Eve, or something very cool to do on Christmas morning through New Year’s, it would be an awesome family project.” —Caroline Choe, “longtime Star Wars enthusiast.”

LEGO Star Wars First Order Star Destroyer 75190
$160, Amazon


“I spent a lot of time feeding my children with the classic airplane-and-hangar strategy. I remember being jealous no one did that for me as an adult. This waffle iron would allow me to elevate the airplane-hangar game as I handle the waffle in mock flight and then devour it, playing the role of a space slug inhabiting an asteroid. Breakfast can be fun again.” —Stephen Hayford, “I create Star Wars diorama images—I turned a childhood of playing with Star Wars toys into an adult career playing with Star Wars toys.”

Disney Star Wars Round Millennium Falcon Waffle Maker
$40, Amazon



“Who didn’t imagine how cozy Luke must have been, nestled inside his trusted steed while Han built a shelter? I want this, despite it not including warm cushy innards, just so I can crawl inside and say, ‘And I thought they smelled bad on the outside.’” —Stephen Hayford

Star Wars Tauntaun Sleeping Bag
$199, Amazon



“What makes this item special is that it simulates some of what you expect from really interacting with this beloved droid. Several details about this item put it over the top in that regard compared to standard RC toys: It’s 18 inches tall, so while not ‘full scale,’ it is hefty enough to really seem like a small droid, not just a ‘toy,’ while still compact enough to play with. The ‘Follow mode’ does just what it says, and suddenly you have the same reliable companion Rey had at her side. It’s like a droid puppy. Finally, the voice command with preprogrammed movement, light, and sound responses give you an interactive experience, as opposed to manually driving its movements via remote control.” —Mike Zhang, “Rogue Alliance NYC member.”

Star Wars Hero Droid BB-8
$190, Amazon



“I’ve fallen in love with the BB-8 high-top sneaker from Po-Zu. I had seen these pop up from time to time online, but I was able to see them in person at New York Comic Con, and it was love at first sight. I’m a member of the 501st Legion, so I tend to prefer Imperial, First Order, and dark-side merchandise, but who doesn’t love an adorable ball droid!? They are as beautiful in person as they are in the images—lightweight, bright colors with incredibly comfortable insoles. Po-Zu has many Star Wars styles to choose from, even screen accurate Rey boots and fun Wookiee shoes. The BB-8 ones stole my heart, though, and had to be at the top of my wish list.” —Alaric Hahn, “member of the 501st and Rebel Legion.”

BB-8 High-Tops
$118, Po-Zu

Bonus Gift Idea



“I am a Star Wars and science-fiction and fantasy fan, and also a big popcorn fan—we make it in my house a lot. I don’t like microwave popcorn, though. I prefer air-popped kernels. At Christmas, we were playing this game called the Minnesota Dice Game, although I think everyone just claims it’s their state’s dice game. Everyone brings a bunch of gifts and you throw them in the middle, and if you roll doubles, you get to choose a gift, but then in subsequent rounds you can steal—it’s a bit like a white elephant. Anyway, last year, I snatched this popcorn maker after fierce competition, and I love it because it’s the shape of a Death Star and makes air-popped popcorn.” —Unlikely Star Wars fan Gail Simmons.

Star Wars Rogue One Death Star Popcorn Maker – Hot Air Style with Removable Bowl
$50, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

The Best Gifts for Coffee Snobs

The Best Gifts for Coffee Snobs

by Maxine Builder @ Slate Articles

 

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening—is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?—but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that serious cook, or booze connoisseur, or picky teen girl in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or, at least, a very helpful starting point. Today, eight coffee nerds on the gifts they’d want to receive (or give) this year, from high-end burr coffee grinders to delightfully tacky coffee mugs.

“My wife and I have been using the OXO Adjustable Temperature Pour Over Kettle. It’s by far the most cost-effective kettle on the market and one I strongly recommend for home use. For serious home brewers, I’d also recommend the OXO Conical Burr Coffee Grinder. A burr coffee grinder is an important investment and will provide you with a consistent grind size to brew the perfect cup of coffee time after time.” —Paul Schlader, co-founder and co-owner, Birch Coffee

OXO On Adjustable Temperature Electric Pour-Over Kettle
$100, Amazon

OXO On Conical Burr Coffee Grinder With Integrated Scale
$200, Amazon

“The Baratza Encore allows for an impeccable grind, really bringing the coffee to its full potential. Also, a case of Pure Black is a great gift for anyone who loves coffee. It’s balanced and smooth, making it a great cold coffee you can dress up in so many ways.” —JP Iberti, president and co-founder, La Colombe

Baratza Encore Electric Grinder
$139, Amazon

La Colombe Cold Pressed Coffee, Pure Black, 4 Count
$3, Amazon

“As the owner of a growing coffee business, I’m always trying to think of ways to stay ahead of the curve, and I find inspiration all around me. It’s silly for me to think that I can remember everything, so everywhere I go, I always bring a trusty durable notebook. Moleskine has been my go-to and I have my fair share of filled notebooks on my shelf.” —Jeremy Lyman, co-founder and co-owner, Birch Coffee

Moleskine Limited Collection Denim Notebook, Large, Ruled, Navy Blue
$23, Amazon

“Because we often work from home and are spoiled with the best coffee, we love using our KitchenAid pro series espresso machine. Not only is it a beautiful piece of art for your kitchen, but this espresso machine is as close to the real thing as you can get! Perfectly pulled shots and frothy foam from your very own home will have you skipping your morning coffee run.” —Elisa Marshall, founding partner, Maman

KitchenAid KES2102FP Pro Line Series Espresso Maker With Dual Independent Boilers, Frosted Pearl
$995, Amazon

“For a couple of friends who own record players and are heading up to Portland, Maine, this spring and need a reason to stop at a great café: The Tandem Coffee vinyl and coffee subscription.” —James Freeman, chief product officer and founder, Blue Bottle Coffee

The Good Thing - Coffee & Vinyl Subscription
$35/month, Tandem Coffee

“For all of my cocktail-loving friends who go to Tokyo, and then return morose because they are 6,000 miles from perfect ice: An ice mold that gets you very, very close to perfect ice. My friends can then enjoy the ice they make with a finger or two of Hibiki 12-year poured into a perfect, delicate Hario tumbler with sides as thin as a dragonfly’s wing.” —Freeman

W&P Design Clear Ice Mold - Charcoal
$35, Amazon

Hario Rock Glass RG-300
$28, Amazon

“At the top of my list this year is the Stagg EKG kettle from Fellow Products! It’s the ideal brewing kettle for any coffee enthusiast; with its temperature stability and variable settings, it allows you to hold the water at 200 degrees for up to an hour. This means that every time I make a pour over at home, I know that my water will be consistently hot throughout the brewing process. (If you’re curious why water is so important in brewing, just remember that coffee is 99 percent water!)” —Noah Goodman, barista, Nobletree Coffee

Stagg EKG
$149, Fellow

Editor’s note: If you’re looking for a slightly-less-expensive alternative to this electric kettle (or one that’s eligible for Amazon’s two-day shipping), Fellow’s pour-over kettle is what Grub Street editor Sierra Tishgart will be giving everyone this holiday season.

Fellow Stagg Pour Over Kettle, Polished
$79, Amazon

“I have a collection of tacky coffee mugs from places I’ve been. This one is from Bondi, where I grew up, so I drink my morning coffee from this one when I’m feeling a little homesick.” —Giles Russell and Henry Roberts, co-owners, Two Hands

Zazzle Bondi Beach Vintage Travel Poster Coffee Mug
$15, Amazon

“Our dear friend and coffee roaster César Vega, from Café Integral, created these bowls for his café on Elizabeth Street in Nolita. They’re a dream to drink your morning (or afternoon) coffee from. Combining the comforting feeling of drinking from a bowl, but with the practicality of drinking from a cup. And as each one is handcrafted, they’re a beautiful piece of art to sit on your shelves as well.” —Russell and Roberts

Azure Au Lait Bowl
$30, Café Integral

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Pho-ast Casual PhoNatic To Totally Chain Up Austin

by phonatic @ Phonatic Vietnamese Cuisine

Local Vietnamese spot PhoNatic, the Allandale fast-casual brainchild of the family behind the sprawling Asian grocery superstore MT Supermarket on North Lamar, will expand to three locations in 2013, moving...

The post Pho-ast Casual PhoNatic To Totally Chain Up Austin appeared first on Phonatic Vietnamese Cuisine.

The Best Gifts for Health and Wellness Nuts

The Best Gifts for Health and Wellness Nuts

by Samuel Anderson @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening—is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?—but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of different tribes to find out exactly what to get that home cook, college student, or Star Wars fanatic in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or at least a very helpful starting point. Today, 12 health and wellness nuts on the gifts they want for the holidays. (And take a look at what Taryn Toomey, founder of cult workout the Class, recommended last year.)

“Every wellness girl I know milling about New York or L.A. can’t wait to get their hands on the Kule x Bandier collection, which has the coolest, comfiest tracksuits. Going in—literally closing your eyes and deepening your awareness through meditation and yoga—is the new going out.” —Beth Cooke, yoga instructor

Kule x Bandier Williams Trackpants
$135, Bandier

“I would wear this bodysuit to work with sweaters, to play with my son, and if I’m lucky to actually work out! I also use this Jiva Apoha body oil all over my body, which I love because it’s all organic.” —Amanda Chantal Bacon, founder of Moon Juice

Outdoor Voices Strata Silverstone Bodysuit
$85, Outdoor Voices

“This is my favorite hiking shoe so I’d want another pair. It’s waterproof and bulletproof in all climates, with an amazing fit. Best hiking boots made. I’ve walked in streams and they held the water out.” Bob Greene, Oprah’s former trainer

Salomon Men’s Quest 4D2 GTX Hiking Boot
$116, Amazon

“This tracks multiple wellness parameters like exercise and calories, but it also tracks your sleep and sleep quality. Sleep quality is often ignored, and it is one of the most important pillars of health and wellness.” —Bob Greene

Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch
$270, Amazon

“This vibrating foam roller is top of the list this year. It’s the Tesla of foam rollers, featuring three speeds of high-intensity vibration that allow you to warm up, train, and recover faster than any other roller. We use them in Barry’s Bootcamp’s Flex Release classes, and our athletes have been loving them.” —Joey Gonzalez, CEO of Barry’s Bootcamp

HyperIce Vyper – 3 Speed Vibrating Foam Roller
$179, Amazon

“These headphones are the ultimate for working out on vacation. They are sweat- and water-resistant with a built-in A.I. coach, motivating you to work harder and faster as you work out. The programming syncs with your phone to measure heart rate, motion, and distance, and the sound quality is unmatched.” —Gonzalez

Vi A.I. Fitness Tracker With Heart Rate and Real-Time Audio Coaching in Premium Wireless Sweat-Proof Headphones
$180, Amazon

“Because I’m one of those crazy people who feels like the more I sweat, the better of a workout I’m getting.” Hayden Slater, CEO and founder of Pressed Juicery

Kutting Weight Neoprene Weight-Loss Sauna Suit (Unisex)
$40, Amazon

“Because I don’t have kids yet but want them one day.” —Slater

DefenderPad Laptop EMF Radiation Protection & Heat Shield by DefenderShield
$98, Amazon

“This is a homespun Little House on the Prairie-style gift. Mix up a tablespoon of it with water in the morning and it’s a refreshing way to help a loved one stave off winter cold. And the apothecary-style bottle makes it super giftable.” —Alexia Brue, co-founder of Well + Good

Fire Cider Vinegar
$17, Amazon

“I’m really into adding adaptogens (ingredients that help your body manage stress) to my coffee. Anima Mundi is super transparent about the sourcing of their mushrooms, and with the added hint of cacao, this blend mitigates that “forest floor” flavor. I’d build a little gift set around this blend with their Happiness Tonic and the Vegan Curam Beauty Elixir.” —Melisse Gelula, co-founder of Well + Good

Anima Mundi – Organic/Vegan Curam Beauty Elixir
$20, Amazon

“Food is definitely the fastest way to change how you feel (other than a facial). If only the graphic design was edible, too; good fonts are kind of essential to my personal well-being.” —Michael Pollak, chief brand officer and co-founder of Heyday

Simple Fare: Fall and Winter by Karen Mordechai
$22, Amazon

“Based on supplements originally given to astronauts to protect them from rapid aging in space, these not only help your skin look refreshed, they also contain essential antioxidants that improve your immune system on a cellular level, which is vital after all those holiday parties and to not ruin your warm-weather getaway.” —Erica Choi, NYC-based art director and blogger

11SKIN Radiant Skin Beauty Dose
$160, Revolve

“I love getting and giving luxury skin care as it’s a way the recipient can really pamper themselves this holiday season. This treatment acts like a sleeping mask and is great for those nights you need that extra dose of hydration. You seriously wake up with smoother and the most radiant skin.” —Erica Choi

REN Wake Wonderful Night-Time Facial
$29, Amazon

“I love soaking in a bath with Epsom salts. Not only do they remove toxins from the skin and body, they relieve muscle tension and stiffness after a tough workout. I’d love a ton of these.” —Melanie Coba, European Wax Center’s national brand ambassador

Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salts
$5, Amazon

“My favorite workout is one that’s simple to design and hard to execute. Nothing comes in as handy, or is as versatile, as a good old-fashioned jump rope. It’s a staple in any backpack or suitcase when I travel, and I always need more: low-price, highly mobile, and highly effective. Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee this holiday season.”  —Noah Neiman, trainer and co-founder of Rumble

Survival and Cross Adjustable Jump Rope
$10, Amazon

“I would love this book because it is written by a fellow registered dietitian whose expert advice is important to many dietitians. Other than that, all I want is a good hat, which is how I protect myself from UV rays, a basket full of fresh fruit, a platter of nuts and dried fruit.” —Maye Musk, model and dietician

You Have It Made by Ellie Krieger
$17, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Christmas Greetings from I Love Pho

by Emma Nguyen @ I Love Pho

As one of the popular Vietnamese restaurant in Sydney that serve authentic Vietnamese cuisine, our goal is to bring the best Vietnamese food experiences to our customers. We are committed to proving you with an exceptional Vietnamese food that is fresh, healthy, authentic and GLUTEN FREE. 2016 has been a fantastic year and we look...

The post Christmas Greetings from I Love Pho appeared first on I Love Pho.

Best Sonoma Restaurants: 18 Picks from the Food Critics

Best Sonoma Restaurants: 18 Picks from the Food Critics

by Sonoma Magazine @ Bay Area Bites

The food critics at Sonoma Magazine have picked out their favorite places to eat in the county.

The Real Holiday Magic Comes Not From Micromanaging, but Letting Go

The Real Holiday Magic Comes Not From Micromanaging, but Letting Go

by Anne-Marie Slaughter @ Slate Articles

The biggest laugh line I ever delivered was when I told a group of some 300 women at a big Atlantic event in Washington that my husband believes in Santa Claus. Why wouldn’t he? The stockings appeared on Christmas Eve and were magically filled Christmas morning; little elves decorated the tree and put perfectly wrapped gifts beneath it; wonderful smells emanated from the kitchen as Christmas cookies were baked and Christmas meals planned and shopped for; most items on the kids’ Christmas lists were delivered without ever being ordered, if not by reindeer then at least by Amazon.

For many years when our sons were little, my husband would look up sometime in early December and comment in a surprised tone that I seemed tense. And I would explode. I mean EXPLODE. He was genuinely oblivious to the endless lists and extra hours spent decorating, planning, ordering, and nagging. (Have you gotten a gift for your assistant? For your great-aunt Maude? Contrary to popular belief, most of us do not actually enjoy nagging.) To top it all off, when we actually got down to preparing Christmas dinner, with him as the principal cook and lots of relatives helping in various ways, he would routinely accuse me of not doing anything, just managing. Without that planning and direction, of course, nothing would happen at all.

Things changed because of a vacation. He is in charge of family trips, which he spends countless hours planning, organizing, and executing—hours that I don’t really see or give him enough credit for. The boys and I follow happily in his wake, leaving for the airport when he tells us we must leave and looking to him to get us to the gate, the cab, the hotel, and the various sights he has researched and arranged for us to see. He is often stressed and even a bit snappish along the way, even though we do everything he tells us to. In the midst of all this, I am prone to telling him to relax—after all, we’re on vacation!

One summer, as we were following this pattern, I pointed out that he seemed tense, and then it was his turn to explode. In the ensuing discussion, I pointed out that the way he was feeling was exactly the way I felt during the holidays, when he drifted blithely along—doing whatever I asked him to do but never initiating anything. We both had an epiphany and are now more understanding and appreciative of just how much work the other puts in.

He now takes items off my list, or even makes his own list, but with a twist. When we decorate the Christmas tree together, truly together, he rejects many of the ornaments I have found and ordered over the years as tacky. He now finds things for the kids’ stockings on his own initiative (in our family everyone gets a stocking forever), with the result that our sons laugh as they pull out gifts alternating between an iTunes giftcard (Mom), an anthology of modern drama for our actor son (Dad), cute socks and candy (Mom), CDs of a selection of classical pianists for our musician son (Dad), posters of 100 craft beers or 100 rap musicians (Mom), reproductions of commedia dell’arte prints (Dad).

I once would have told him that intellectual self-improvement is not really what stockings are supposed to be about. But now I know and accept: If he is going to do things, he will have his own ideas about how they should be done. If I want them done differently, I can do them myself. Moreover, if I leave it up to him, some things won’t get done at all. He really doesn’t care if the mantel is decorated or if we have special pastries for Christmas breakfast, for instance. So if I’m doing them, I’m doing them not for him but for myself.

And now, when he introduces his own holiday traditions—like wrapping everything in stockings, which is his family’s tradition—I have to be prepared to accept his ideas, just as he accepts mine.

That’s what marital equality actually looks like—at the holidays and throughout the year. Not micromanaging, but letting go. Trusting. Sharing. Accepting. Believing, if not in Santa Claus, then at least in your mate’s ability to make the holidays happen without your supervision. That leap of faith can make its own magic.

Bless His Heart

Bless His Heart

by Ruth Graham @ Slate Articles

Two days before Sean Spicer abruptly resigned as White House press secretary in July, he beamed into a Christian Broadcasting Network studio for what turned out to be his last on-camera interview in the job. The spokesman was sweating profusely in the midday heat of the White House lawn, but the conversation itself must have felt like a cool breeze to him. Faith Nation hosts David Brody and Jenna Browder nodded encouragingly as Spicer made his way through White House talking points on health care legislation and tax reform, with Browder lamenting that the mainstream media wants “to talk about Russia all day long.” At the end of the interview, Brody passed along a question from CBN’s viewers. “We get a question all the time on Facebook to you specifically,” he said. “They want to know how they can pray for you.”

The hapless Spicer somehow fumbled the answer, stammering about how “some people like to say a rosary or recite a prayer and some people want to talk in their own personal way.” But the appearance overall was a rare success for Spicer, a chance to portray the White House as stable and policy-oriented, and to bring that message to the conservative evangelicals who form a core element of Trump’s base. It was a win for the then-brand-new program Faith Nation, too, which got to boast a top White House staffer as its first-ever guest. “We’ve got tremendous access at the White House,” Brody had told CBN founder Pat Robertson earlier in a promotional interview for Faith Nation on the Christian talk show The 700 Club. “It is a new day in D.C.”

Brody is CBN’s chief political correspondent, and for the past year he has been doing his best to take advantage of every hour of this “new day.” Trump granted the correspondent one of his first sit-down interviews at the White House, just days after the inauguration. Soon afterward, the president called on Brody first during a White House press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, ruffling feathers among mainstream reporters. In April, Adweek named him one of 15 influential “political power players” in the media, along with Maggie Haberman, David Fahrenthold, and Tucker Carlson. Now, Brody is co-writing a “spiritual biography” of Trump that will be published in February by an imprint of HarperCollins.

Brody’s rising profile is a reflection of President Trump’s uncannily successful courting of white evangelicals, and also of Brody’s own foresight. Early in primary season, when many pastors and other evangelical leaders were still deeply wary of the thrice-married casino mogul, Brody was gushing about Trump’s “common bond” with ordinary Christians. “David Brody had a read on evangelicals in this election,” Michael Wear, director of faith outreach for Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign, told me. “If mainstream reporters, and even evangelicals who were more skeptical, listened to David, they would have had a much better read on how this election turned out.” Understanding David Brody feels like a way into understanding Trump’s strangely chameleonic appeal—specifically, the pull he exerts on some of his most devoted and unlikely supporters.

Brody grew up on the Upper West Side of New York City in a family of Reformed Jews, studying Hebrew to prepare for his bar mitzvah and celebrating the High Holy Days every year. He converted to Christianity in his 20s thanks to the patient evangelism of his now-wife, Lisette. Shortly after they started dating, she invited him to a large church that met in a former Broadway theater near Times Square. Brody soaked up the preaching of the church’s founder, David Wilkerson, a charismatic evangelist known for The Cross and the Switchblade, a best-selling 1962 memoir-turned-movie about his ministry to young gang members. These days, “my liberal Jewish mother watches The 700 Club so she can see her son on television,” Brody told me recently. “I figure God must have a sense of humor.”

David and Lisette married in 1988 and moved to Colorado and then to Washington, pursuing his career as a local television news producer. They had three children, and Lisette worked in the public school system and later pursued a master’s degree from a seminary affiliated with a D.C.-area Bible college. The family now attends McLean Bible Church, a large nondenominational church with five locations in the D.C. area. Like Brody, the church’s senior pastor, Lon Solomon, also converted to evangelicalism from Judaism in his early 20s. Brody likes that; he calls himself “a completed Jew,” alluding to the Christian principle that Jesus’ life fulfilled the messianic prophesies of Jewish scriptures. Jesus, Brody said, is “the ultimate Jew, so I’m just following the ultimate.”

After a stint at Focus on the Family Radio, Brody joined CBN in 2003, reporting on the Capitol Hill beat. He’s been at CBN ever since, covering the 2008 presidential campaign and serving as White House correspondent for the first two years of the Obama presidency. At 52, Brody’s on-camera vibe could be described as “grandmother-approved nice young man”: earnest, friendly, quick to flash an encouraging smile. His interlocutory approach is gentle, meandering, even bumbling. He often throws out multiple broad questions at a time, like a tennis ball machine spewing pompoms. Interviewing Pence recently about sexual harassment for The 700 Club, his first question was actually six: “So many people want to know, what’s the solution? What’s the answer? Where’s the morality in all of this in terms of what can be done? Do you legislate it? Is it a cultural issue? Can you help folks with some answers here about what’s been—a light has been shined on this topic, on this very important issue.”

Brody is proud of the fact that he has interviewed many Democrats for CBN over the years, including several interviews with Obama during the 2008 campaign. Josh Earnest, the former White House press secretary (currently an analyst for NBC News), said Brody aggressively pursued the first interview, explaining that he wanted to give Obama a chance to talk about his personal faith and his views on issues important to evangelicals. “He was true to his word,” Earnest told me by email. “It wasn’t a groundbreaking interview as I recall, but David gave then–Sen. Obama a fair venue for a discussion like this, something few conservative outlets would have done.” Earnest himself has appeared as a guest on Faith Nation.

CBN is still best known for The 700 Club, its flagship talk show hosted by the 87-year Robertson from a studio in his home base of Virginia Beach, Virginia. But the network opened up a Washington bureau in the 1980s and has been steadily expanding its newsgathering capabilities. After Obama took office, CBN was granted a seat in the White House briefing room for the first time.

Brody’s journalistic tactics seemed to shift in parallel. “I saw a major in change in David after Sarah Palin was nominated as VP, and the treatment she received,” said Wear, an evangelical who worked for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships during Obama’s first term. Palin attended a Pentecostal church for many years, and her “persecution” by the mainstream media became a major theme in conservative Christian circles. “I think David saw a cultural divide emerging, and seemed to decide he needed to take sides,” Wear added. He explained that as a political strategist, he would find it difficult to advise a Democratic politician to sit down with Brody these days. Brody denies letting political bias affect his work, but said he starting making an effort to be “a little bit more bold” in his analysis around that time.

Meanwhile, Brody’s style has remained corny and avuncular; he always seems to be having fun. When Republican politicians want to reach a conservative Christian audience, they go to Brody knowing they will find a cheerful, sympathetic ear. Gearing up for a primary campaign in 2011, thrice-married Newt Gingrich told Brody that he had sought forgiveness from God for things in his life that “were not appropriate.” Herman Cain’s notorious “Uzbeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan” moment came in response to a Brody softball that used “Uzbekistan” as a stand-in for “crazy things the unreasonable media might expect you to know about”: “Are you ready for the ‘gotcha’ questions that are coming from the media and others on foreign policy?” Brody asked the then-candidate. “Like, who’s the president of Uzbekistan?” Brody calls his interlocutory approach “ ‘Bless your heart’ style.” “If you give them a little bit more ‘bless your heart,’ they’re going to talk more,” he said.

Brody first interviewed Trump in 2011, when the businessman was toying with a run for president. That interview ended up playing a role in the 2016 campaign, because it included Trump’s clearest articulation of why he’d changed his mind on the abortion issue. Brody remembers that first conversation fondly. He was waiting in an office in Trump Tower, and Trump came in carrying a photograph of his childhood confirmation at a Presbyterian church in Queens. “David, take a look at this,” he said. “You might want to use this for your story.” The anecdote struck me as meaningless at best, and unflattering to both of them at worst; committed believers don’t tend to walk around bragging that they attended church one time many decades ago, but Brody was clearly charmed by the interaction. “That was so Trump,” he told me with a fond chuckle. “He’s like, ‘Take a look, I’ve got photo evidence here of me in church.’ ”

At their first meeting, Brody recalls that Trump seemed like a “genuine, no-nonsense, throw-political-correctness-out-the-window guy.” Trump, meanwhile, clearly trusts Brody, and is drawn to the Pentecostal strain of evangelicalism that CBN represents, which tends toward flashy aesthetics, blunt rhetorical style, and easy forgiveness of leaders who “stumble.” Faith Nation, which he co-hosts on Facebook Live with news correspondent Browder, was designed to take advantage of CBN’s new status in the Washington in-crowd. The weekly Faith Nation is in every way a splashier production than Brody’s previous news show, The Brody File, which broadcast its last episode almost a year ago. The light-filled Faith Nation studio near Dupont Circle is all glossy surfaces and screens, with a social-media correspondent monitoring viewer feedback in real time. Since its launch in July, Brody and Browder have interviewed Spicer, Mike Pence, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Sebastian Gorka, and Jeff Sessions.

Evangelical Christians did not initially seem like a natural constituency for a crude New Yorker who said on the campaign trail that he’s never asked for forgiveness from God. But white evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Trump last fall, and although their support has slipped, 66 percent of them still approved of his job performance in late October, even as his popularity among the general public slumped to historic lows. Brody attributes the connection in part to a “psychological kinship”: Evangelicals see the world in terms of absolutes, he said, and so does Trump. Brody also sees a shared affinity for the politics of grievance, though he doesn’t phrase it that way. “A lot of people love to trash Trump for being so outspoken on certain issues,” he said. “Evangelicals are ridiculed all the time for their being outspoken about their faith in public. They felt a bond, a connection with Trump, that he was getting beat up by the media, and they’ve been beat up by the media.”

He also points out that older Christians in particular appreciate Trump’s nostalgia for the 1950s, “an America that had prayer in school and had Bible reading in school, where people actually dressed up and went to church and didn’t come to church in baggy pants and sandals,” as Brody puts it, taking care to emphasize that he’s not referring to the era’s “racial relations.” (CBN’s audience is racially mixed, per statistics provided by the network, and so is its roster of on-air hosts, reporters, and guests.) Wear agrees that capitalizing on nostalgia is one of the president’s strengths. Trump “isn’t able to quote from scripture and isn’t able to give a compelling testimony,” he said. “But he is able to tell stories of American values and how he’s going to fight for them and make sure they don’t have to be scared to live in their own country anymore.” The fact that this version of “American values” has been so widely embraced by religious Christians reflects the sprawling definition of contemporary American Christianity that CBN helped craft.

Brody has a special knack for channeling his base’s gut instincts about the state of the country. When I asked him what exactly evangelicals thought had gone so terribly for the country in the last four to eight years, one of the first things he mentioned was the White House having rainbow lights projected onto it after the Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage—something that never even would have occurred to me. As a journalist he doesn’t say “I’m personally outraged by this,” but he has an instinctual sense for the kinds of cultural moments that galvanize the people he’s speaking to.

And now his forthcoming book, The Faith of Donald J. Trump: A Spiritual Biography, will give him more room to square Trump’s version of Christianity with his own and his audience’s. The book will include new interviews with Trump, along with Vice President Pence, Kellyanne Conway, and others in the president’s inner circle. “David is a very friendly person who has developed deep networks,” said Brody’s co-author, Scott Lamb, a Baptist minister and Mike Huckabee biographer. “A real strength of the book is he can get just about anybody on the phone.” The first half of the book will focus on Trump’s religious influences and his “worldview,” and the second half will address his relationship with the faith community. (Brody’s wife, meanwhile, has a book due out the same month on “archeological discoveries that prove the Bible,” with blurbs from Huckabee and Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow.)

Through a tumultuous year, Brody’s faith in the president has remained seemingly unwavering. After the violent weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, surrounding a white supremacist rally in August, he tweeted to “crazy white neo-Nazis” that Trump “has Jewish grandchildren,” and that the president “wants to ‘Make America Great Again’ not make America white again.” He opened the next Faith Nation with a sober statement about how white supremacy has “no place in true Biblical Christianity.” He sounded unusually shaken as he tried to square Trump’s disastrous “both sides” press conference with his own belief in the man’s essential goodness. “Trump is not a politician,” he said at one point. “It’s tough.”

When Brody and I last spoke near the end of the year, what I really wanted to know was whether he was concerned about the Trump administration’s apparent crisis point: indictments, internal chaos, plummeting approval ratings. He brushed the question off, and circled back to praising the way Trump has fulfilled his promises to evangelicals. Trump had delivered a Supreme Court justice and a booming economy, he said, and was about to declare Jerusalem the capitol of Israel. It was only later that I realized I’d asked him almost the exact same question in August, dozens of hypothetical “crisis points” ago.

The real chaos, as Brody and his viewers see it, is happening in the culture outside the walls of the White House. Brody might be right that most white evangelicals will remain loyal to Trump no matter what; he has certainly been right before. What he can’t bring himself to see, it seems to me, is the reality of where white evangelicals’ support of Trump has led them. In pursuit of an imagined 1950s gentility, they have allied themselves with a man who brags about grabbing women’s genitals, mocks the disabled, ridicules war heroes, and effectively endorses white supremacy. But Brody is willing to cheerfully overlook it all. The past year, for him, “has been an exciting whirlwind, a lot of perspiration on the forehead but a lot of smiles,” he said. “It’s nice to be respected.”

The Best Travel Gifts

The Best Travel Gifts

by Ashlea Halpern @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening (is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?), but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that college student, or serious home cook, or Star Wars fanatic in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or, at least, a very helpful starting point. For our latest installment, we found a dozen people who travel for a living who told us about the space pens, portable printers, and Gucci luggage they’re hoping to be gifted this year.

Less Than $100

“I lost my Space Pen on a flight after coloring with my daughter. In the rush to get out, we accidentally left her bag of pencils and my pen. While I quickly got some new pencils for her, I haven’t gotten my replacement yet. This is an amazing pen that writes anywhere. Too often, I’m stuck in a line, trying to fill out customs forms with a crappy ballpoint that doesn’t work. The Space Pen never had that problem and lasts forever. As long as you don’t leave it on your chair, that is…” —Chris Bergaust, 12 years abroad as an expat, 27 countries (not including airports), and 29 flights so far this year

Fisher Space Chrome-Plated Shuttle Space Pen
$30, Amazon

“Watching a movie is a great way to pass the time on a long-haul flight, but sleeping through a red-eye is my first choice for beating jet lag before it starts. However, actually losing consciousness on a 500-ton metal tube roaring through the sky at 560 miles per hour is easier said than done. Sure, I could turn to my old friend Pinot Noir, but on my next overnighter, I’d like to try Sprayable Sleep’s melatonin spray instead. Melatonin pills tend to stir up some pretty intense dreams, like watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on a loop all the way to Thailand. Sprayable Sleep claims to be different.” Yael Boyle, author and full-time traveler who has visited more than 25 countries in the past four years (and spent just 10 days in the U.S.)

Sprayable Sleep Melatonin Spray
$60, Amazon

“I’ve always wanted to be the kind of traveler who looks stylish and put-together no matter where she’s landed. Instead, I always look rumpled and frumpy. So I’ve been dreaming about starting from scratch with an entirely new travel wardrobe: A bunch of versatile, wrinkle-free, light-to-pack, easy-to-wash, quick-to-dry pieces that would ensure I always appear as the neat and fashionable digital nomad I feel like, and not as the living-out-of-a-suitcase, long-term traveler I sometimes look like. A few brands are focusing on exactly this kind of clothing—including things that can be worn in multiple ways—and they intrigue me. Encircled’s Chrysalis Cardi is somehow a cardigan, a blouse, and a dress; Eddie Bauer’s 7 Days 7 Ways Cardigan is exactly what it sounds like; and Betabrand has several multitaskers, including the Travel Wrap Dress and the Round-Trip Dress, both of which have pockets (huzzah!) and the magical ability to be four frocks instead of just one. I’ve heard good things, too, about Anatomie’s lightweight, breathable travel pants, and I’m super curious about Tieks’ foldable ballet flats, which frequently show up in my Facebook feed claiming to be the ultimate travel flat. The catch is that clothing in this category can be expensive, so while these are things I wouldn’t necessarily get for myself, they’d make perfect gifts.” —Billie Cohen, content director at WendyPerrin.com and travel writer

Eddie Bauer 7 Days 7 Ways Cardigan
$30, Amazon

“I’d like a book: Holidays in Soviet Sanatoriums, by Maryam Omidi. After a recent trip to the Caucasus, I’ve become fascinated (and a little bit obsessed) with Soviet history and architecture. If only I had grasped the cultural importance of this much-beloved public institution born of Soviet times—the sanatorium—I might have treated myself to a crude-oil bath in Baku. Places like Abkhazia, Transnistria, and Crimea now feature on my bucket list, so I’d love to understand more about this aspect of the post-Soviet lifestyle before I travel in the region again.” —Emily Lush, a writer and communications consultant who has lived in Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and now Vietnam

Holidays in Soviet Sanatoriums by Maryam Omidi
$24, Amazon

Less Than $200

“My 3-year-old has logged some pretty serious miles already, which is par for the course when your mom is a travel editor. She’s just getting strong enough to lug her own stuff around with her—and the compact size of this stylish carry-on from Away is very appealing. No more overpacking allowed!” —Julia Cosgrove, VP and editor in chief of AFAR Media

Away Kids’ Carry-On
$195, Away

“My job is quite selfish in many ways, in that I take so much from people. I take their picture, I take their time, I take their life story, I take their personal space in their home, and I take their food, tea, and more from hosts who never give less than the best of whatever they have. I find myself feeling I wish I had something to give back. The digital age and social media mean nothing in remote Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Sierra Leone, or even Bangladesh. To have a portable printer that can connect to my DSLR or even mobile phone, that doesn’t need ink cartridges and will print out high-quality images, would mean I leave a part of the story with the storytellers themselves—many who will otherwise perhaps never have a personal or family photo in their lifetime.” Maria de la Guardia, staff photographer for Save the Children Australia

Canon Selphy CP1200 Black Wireless Color Photo Printer
$93, Amazon

“As a photojournalist, my work requires me to travel internationally at least 70 percent of the year, and to some of the most remote, misunderstood, and desperate places in the world, as well as some of the most breathtaking, inspirational, and life-changing. In the hunt for a good story, nothing is more important than being able to communicate with locals. While I usually rely on human interpreters, this isn’t always possible; neither is learning five languages. So, nothing could be more perfect than these small, portable, lightweight earbuds that give real-time translation! I bet they will even make foreign-language jokes funnier.” —Maria de la Guardia

Google – Pixel Buds
$159, Best Buy

“I want the TLS Mother Lode wheeled duffel because I love the two-compartment design, perfect for when a trip includes hot and cold climates; reconfigurable dividers to keep everything in place; and expansion zippers, for when you need a little more room. Basically, a one-stop shop for all my packing needs.” —Susan Portnoy, founder of TheInsatiableTraveler.com

eBags TLS Mother Lode 29” Wheeled Duffel
$160, Amazon

Less Than $500

“I’ve had my eyes on Bose noise-canceling headphones for a long time, but Sony’s new Bluetooth set with a longer battery life and higher sound reviews looks even better. Just imagine drowning out all the hustle and bustle of your commute. Stylish, too!” —Chris Bergaust

Sony WH1000XM2 Premium Noise Canceling Wireless Headphones
$350, Amazon

“I travel to some pretty scary places with awful water. Surprisingly, most water purifiers don’t actually filter everything out. While taking care of bacteria and protozoa are nice, the smaller viruses will quickly ruin your dream vacation. Since this came out last year, I’ve been wanting to pick one up, but the high price tag has put me off. Would make for a really great gift (hint, hint).” —Chris Bergaust

MSR Guardian Purifier
$350, Amazon

“I have a hard time buying things for myself — things that aren’t plane tickets or hotel rooms, that is. But I haven’t stopped eyeballing Bragi’s the Dash Pro wireless headphones since they were released back in May. Saving space is paramount on the road, and the Dash Pro packs a lot into a little: playing music from my phone or laptop, doubling as earplugs on naps over the Atlantic, and keeping me motivated on 5 a.m. jogs through downtown Budapest. The Dash Pro even includes a real-time language-translation app, helpful not only for asking directions home after a half-conscious ramble through a foreign city, but also for ordering a bag of warm chocolate croissants on the way back to the apartment. Which means another predawn run the next day, and probably the next, too. That’s the circle of life (and pastry).” —Yael Boyle

Bragi the Dash Pro With Alexa
$330, Amazon

“I first discovered Osei-Duro a few years ago at the West Coast Craft show in San Francisco. I’ve since become obsessed with their graphic home accessories and women’s clothes, made primarily using textiles from Ghana, India, and Peru. This ikat trench is a showstopper, and sturdy enough for long flights.” —Julia Cosgrove

Osei-Duro Handwoven Trench in Ikat
$375, Garmentory

“Since I’m usually on the road for several months at a time, I typically rent or borrow a sleeping bag, so I don’t have to lug one around when I’m not hiking. But after freezing every night on a Kilimanjaro trek last month in my rented sleeping bag, and dealing with a bulky one in Torres del Paine a few years ago, I’ve decided that I finally need to invest in my own sleeping bag for hiking trips. REI’s Joule 21 is on the top of my list because it’s one of the lightest water-resistant bags I’ve found with a temperature rating below freezing. It weighs around two pounds. This is my Christmas gift to myself this year.” —Anna Mazurek, an Austin, Texas–based freelance travel photographer and writer at TravelLikeAnna.com

REI Co-op Joule 21 Sleeping Bag
$299, REI

“In a world of digital, there’s something to be said for the tangible. I’ve always wanted to leave more behind than just a thank-you. Making a photograph with someone and being able to give them a picture in real time feels like a fitting tribute to the time spent and connection made. I was in Namibia a couple of years ago, photographing members of the Himba tribe. The children loved to see their images on the LCD screen. I would have loved to have been able to give them photos right there and then. With the Polaroid Pop, I could.” —Susan Portnoy

Polaroid Pop 3x4” Instant Print Digital Camera
$200, Amazon

Less Than $1,000

“I like to go to extreme places when you aren’t supposed to be there, which is why I’m headed to Alaska this winter! I’m going to Fairbanks to do some aurora-viewing, dogsledding, and snowshoeing in February. I am a supercheap traveler, so I seldom buy myself the right equipment, but in this case, I can’t really screw around. I need the right cold-weather gear to survive these adventures!” —Sherry Ott, founder of Ottsworld.com and nomad for 11 years and counting

Baffin Coco Boots
$125, Amazon

Canada Goose Trillium Parka
$799, Amazon

Less Than $5,000

“As an editor for a publication that covers luxury travel, I get to lay my head in some fabulous places. I remember one particular rest not too long ago at rural Virginia’s Primland that was so heavenly, I almost took a sick day from my own vacation. While I’m sure I could probably find the cloudlike mattress online somewhere, this Christmas I’d be content with re-creating the experience at home with a set of fine Frette sheets similar to the ones used at the Forbes Travel Guide four-star resort.” —DeMarco Williams, managing editor of Forbes Travel Guide

Frette Bicolore Sheet Set
$1,200, Bloomingdale’s

“Despite the schlep that modern air travel has become, I still believe that if you plan smart, dress well, and invest in airline-lounge membership, getting there can be half the fun. For months now, I’ve been lusting over this Gucci carry-on suitcase, which is distinctive and stylish—just the way I like to present myself to the world. But at $4,200, it’s also completely beyond my freelance-writer budget. Yet I love it still. To me, the overlay of the colorful embroidered appliqués on the traditional Gucci printed canvas makes it less ‘I’m carrying this because I want everyone to know it’s Gucci’ and more ‘I’m carrying this really cool bag. And, yeah, since you asked, it’s Gucci.’ I visited it in my local boutique at least three times this summer. Here’s hoping the fourth will be with someone who’ll buy it for me.” —Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, TV host, Caribbean expert, and travel writer at JetSetSarah.com

Gucci Courrier GG Supreme Suitcase
$4,200, Gucci

“As a food writer and photographer who spends most of his time wandering around taking photos in remote markets and rural villages in Latin America, I need to lug around a clunky DSLR camera with several lenses and a backpack to get the right shot, which can be tiring and attracts a lot of unwanted attention. My iPhone is OK on occasion, but the quality is lacking, and the types of shots I can get are limited. The Leica Q is a full-frame camera that’s as good as any DSLR, I can stick it in my pocket, and it isn’t flashy. Plus, it easily connects to Wi-Fi, so I can upload a shot to Instagram in real time.” —Nicholas Gill, co-founder of NewWorlder.com and co-author of Central with Virgilio Martínez

Leica Q (Typ 116)
$4,250, Amazon

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Baby’s First Sermon

Baby’s First Sermon

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up below to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Mallory Ortberg: Good morning, world! Let’s get to adjudicating.

Q. Grandma trying to convert grandchild: Grandma is very, very religious and has taken it upon herself to attempt to convert our new 2-month-old son. Every “conversation” with the infant includes God and every present is Christian-themed, from Christian picture frames to religious children’s books. Obviously the child still doesn’t grasp any of this.

The rub is my spouse and I aren’t religious, and agreed to raise our child in our (lack) of beliefs. We aren’t bothered by exposure, which can be great for learning, but this proselytizing isn’t OK. How do we get Grandma to stop, especially when the Christmas season is bound to kick this into overdrive? I am not optimistic that she will listen if we ask politely, and I would prefer to stop it before little Einstein is old enough to understand.

A: I’ve heard of religious family members trying to convert their relatives’ young children, but I’m almost impressed at how early your grandmother is trying to get God’s foot in the door (Almost. I am not, in fact, impressed with her behavior.). The good—and bad—news is that if your grandmother does not listen to your polite requests, you have the opportunity to establish appropriate consequences. “Grandma, I know your faith is important to you and that you love little Hanktimony here, but we’re not religious and don’t want you to proselytize to him.” If the religious gifts continue, you get to follow up with, “As we mentioned, we don’t want you to proselytize to our son; we’re going to donate this to an appropriate charity.” If she’s completely incapable of interacting with a baby without trying endlessly to espouse her religious beliefs, then you will get to limit the time she spends with her grandchild. That’s unfortunate, but it’s completely avoidable if she can behave appropriately. You’re not asking her to pretend she’s not religious, nor are you preventing her from expressing her faith, you’re simply asking her to refrain from trying to convert a 2-month-old baby with every breath.

Q. No way: My husband and I love the great outdoors and have taken our daughter to every national park in the state. She is 11. My two sisters have girls of their own. We took them all for a week this summer to a lake to see how a cousins camping trip would go.

It went great except for “Gracie.” Gracie was miserable. She could not do the simplest activities and didn’t want to do them at all. She would have panic attacks and cry if a bee got near her. My husband and I traded off doing activities with the other girls and staying in camp with Gracie.

Her mother adored having a kid-free week and wants to do this again for spring break. My husband and I want to do it with the other girls, but this time it would involve some actual deep woods experience. Gracie had a horrible time when we were at actual campsite with showers and toilets. Gracie says she wants to come, and I think it is mostly to please her mother. How do I tell my sister no way and still keep the peace? Gracie is a great girl and smart as a whip, but she is not the outdoors type at all.

A: Oh, this is tricky, especially because you’re not considering keeping it just in your nuclear family this year, but inviting all of the other cousins except for Gracie. It would be one thing if you just wanted to take your own girls, but I’m not sure how you could keep everyone on the roster but Gracie, especially if she still says she wants to go. My inclination is to say that you should just take your own children this year, but I’m open to hearing from other readers (especially parents!) who have other ideas on how to deal with this.

Q. Stuck: I adore “Dan.” He is everything I want in a man: sweet, funny, kind, and handsome. Dan lost his wife of four years to a drunk driver three years ago; he is still obsessively involved with her children. I wouldn’t think anything about it if Dan had raised these girls from birth, but they were 11 and 7 when Dan married their mother. Their biological father was not overly involved in their lives but not willing to sign away his paternal rights. His mother is the one with the day-to-day custody.

The 18-year-old moved in with Dan as soon as her birthday came. She has no plans for school as of now, does not have a full-time job, and calls Dan “Daddy.” I am very uncomfortable when I go over to Dan’s condo and she is there. I know she doesn’t like me, and while she hasn’t made any overtly hostile moves, she hugs Dan all the time and deliberately brings up her younger sister and interferes with any plans that we are making (“you can’t do anything Sunday, Daddy, Julie has a game,” et cetera!).

The entire situation makes me queasy. When the 14-year-old comes over, the three of them are this little impregnable unit, and I feel like the new kid in the lunchroom. They hang off Dan like limpets and ignore me entirely. The entire situation is ridiculous! I feel like the Evil Stepmother except they aren’t my stepkids! They aren’t even Dan’s anymore! Every time I bring up our relationship, Dan filters it through the kids’ angle (if we’d move in together, “where would the girls live?” If we sell our places and get a new one together, “it has to be near the girls!” If we go to Jamaica for Christmas, “what about the girls?”). I know I love Dan. I want to have a family with him, but he is stuck in the past. What can I do here?

A: Oh, man. I don’t often find myself wishing that a letter were fake, but I hope very much that this one is. The fact that you consider Dan’s relationship to his daughters temporary or easily dismissed because he has not raised them from birth is absolutely heartbreaking. Their mother is dead, their biological father is largely absent, and Dan has raised them since they were little girls—he’s their father, and any relationship you try to build with him that’s predicated on trying to diminish or mitigate that reality is doomed to fail. Your boyfriend’s daughter doesn’t like you because you have made it perfectly clear that you think it’s time for him to abandon his “old” daughters and start a new family with you. You feel like an Evil Stepmother because you are using some of the most classic moves out of the Evil Stepmother playbook! You are being an Evil Stepmother, full stop. If you can’t find a way to accept that Dan has two children and that any relationship you build together will have to rest upon that foundation, then the best thing you can do, for his sake as well as your own, is to break up now.

Q. Re: No way: Could they take all the girls except Gracie but offer a special trip (to the movies and a fun dinner locally, for example?) just to Gracie to make up for leaving her out of the dreaded camp out? I hated camping, and felt left out, myself!

A: That could be really sweet! Part of the implicit pressure is that the letter writer knows their sister wants another kid-free week, so it may be that the sister in question is less interested in making sure Gracie has a good time with her aunts/uncles/cousins and more interested in getting free child care. This won’t address that problem (although I think the letter writer should feel enormously free to make it clear that this trip is about really roughing it in the great outdoors, not about making sure their sisters get a week off of parenting), but it may go a long way toward making sure everyone actually enjoys the time they spend together.

Q. Family photos with dog: I’m recently engaged (within the last six months) to a wonderful dude with two equally wonderful children (7 and 10, who are with us about 60 percent of the time). We’ve recently adopted a puppy. I’m childless and have wanted a dog desperately for approximately 25 years. Based on a variety of factors, I’m probably not going to have my own biological children.

Am I allowed to have professional photos taken of the dog while he’s still a baby? There’s a giant part of me that says, “Yup—you’re childless and will remain so, sure you can get puppy photos done,” and there’s a big part of me that says, “Absolutely not, any professional photos need to include the kids and it’s not appropriate for you to do this/be in any of them without your fiancé and the kids.” Thoughts?

A: Never has the phrase “Others abide our question/ Thou art free” seemed quite so fitting. I think that you can get professional photos taken in whatever configuration you like! It doesn’t sound like these pictures are going on your engagement announcement or wedding invitations—you just want to spend some money on professional pictures with you and your new puppy. That is fine! It is your money, and your dog; if you want to wrangle a puppy into a photography studio and pose for pictures, then you have my blessing. If you also want to get professional photos with your fiancé and soon-to-be-stepchildren, too, you have my blessing there, too. There’s no reason you can’t do both.

Q. Re: Stuck: Your answer was spot on. Two weeks ago I married a wonderful, loving man who is still completely involved in the lives of his “former stepchildren”—he was married to their mom for 10 years before their divorce, and did most of the heavy lifting of raising them from grade school through high school graduation. The fact that he will always consider them “his kids” is, to me, just more evidence of what a great guy he is. They are now in college and basically have four parents—their biological ones and the two of us. So I would encourage the letter writer to take his devotion to the kids as living proof of what a loving and loyal person he is. If he were the kind of person who could just bail on them, as you clearly wish he would do, he would not be the “sweet” and “kind” person you describe.

A: There’s something especially jarring about wanting your boyfriend to ditch his own family in order to start a new one with you. What kind of father would he be to any children you’d have together, if he could be that easily talked into casting his other children aside? (I’m afraid I know the letter writer’s answer—any children they’d have together would be biologically his and therefore “more important,” which is a desperately sad worldview to hang on to.) I’m so glad to hear that your new husband is a good father and that you’ve been able to see your way through to becoming a part of his family, rather than trying to separate him from the rest of them.

Q. Family truth: Seven years ago, before my niece was born, my sister had an affair with a Colombian co-worker. Our family is white and so is my brother in-law’s family, though they claim to have some long-ago Native American ancestry. This is the excuse my sister seized on when my niece was born with brown eyes and brown hair despite everyone else being either blond or redheads. I don’t have physical proof beyond the timing of my niece’s birth and my sister confiding in me about the affair. My brother-in-law is not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he loves his wife and his daughter. I brought up the issue once with my sister, and she shut me down—the affair was a “mistake,” but there is no way her baby could be anyone else’s but her husband’s. Her response was harsh enough that I have never brought it up since.

My niece has. She looks nothing like her brothers and younger sister. She has asked why she tans in the summer while everyone else gets red and if she was adopted like her friend in school. My sister freaks out over these questions and comes down harshly. I know that this is going to be an issue as my niece gets older. What can I do to prepare?

A: Not much, I think. You have a suspicion but little else, and it’s not impossible for two fair-haired people to have a dark-haired child. You can encourage your sister to respond more graciously when her daughter asks an innocent question, but if she’s completely unwilling to talk about the possibility of her former affair partner being the father of her child, then you can’t force her.

Q. Overeating brother-in-law: My brother-in-law has a serious problem with overeating. Yesterday, upon arriving at a family gathering at my home, he immediately made a beeline for the buffet table and loaded up his plate without even saying hello to anyone. He loaded it up several more times thereafter, eating while huddled in a corner without interacting much socially. Two hours later, he comes over and asks if there are any more bagels. He then ate three bagels in the span of 15 minutes, literally just shoving them in his face. He carries food around with him at all times. He’s gained at least 125 pounds since my eldest was born and the pictures of him holding my then-infant child seven years ago are startling (and he wasn’t thin then either).

Yet, I’m the only one who seems to care about this. My wife shrugs and says it’s a problem but there’s nothing for her to do; he’s an adult and not her child. She cares more that he eats the food she was planning on saving for the week. The rest of his immediate family either doesn’t see a problem or says he’s very sensitive and he’ll completely shut people out if it’s mentioned. He has a lot of other problems: He’s never had a girlfriend despite being in his mid-30s, and he’s never had full-time employment (just series of part-time gigs). Aside from being grossed out and worried about his health, I think he’s just given up on life (he makes no attempt to fix any problems in his life) and probably has deep, untreated depression. Is there anything to be done? I don’t think it’s my place to say anything, and no one else will.

A: I think the key part of your letter is the phrase “aside from being grossed out,” which suggests that your concern has less to do with spending more time with your brother-in-law and offering him emotional support, and more to do with trying to control his behavior.

Your wife is right—he is an adult, and you two aren’t especially close, so you have a limited ability to start raising intimately personal issues with him. You can’t go from “We speak every few months” to “Hey, I’ve identified your three biggest problems in life and think it’s time for you to address them” overnight. If nothing else, know that as a fat person, your brother-in-law has likely already gotten a great deal of advice and input about his eating habits from strangers, friends, and acquaintances, even if your family has refrained from commenting. That doesn’t mean, however, that there’s nothing you can do to help support someone you believe to be in visible emotional pain.

You say that the other day he didn’t say hello to anyone at the family dinner, then sat in a corner while eating. As an in-law who doesn’t have a solid friendship with him, it’s not your place to subsequently ask him about his relationship to food, but there was nothing keeping you from going over and saying hello, and engaging him socially. Your options are not restricted to either “Tell your grown in-law you think he’s eating emotionally/compulsively, that he needs a girlfriend, and he has a spotty employment history, and that you know how to fix it” or “ignore him completely.” If you think he seems lonely and isolated at family events, say hello. Draw him out. Tell him you’re happy to see him, and try to find something you’d both enjoy talking about, rather than keeping a mental scorecard of how much weight he’s gained in the last seven years. If you reframe your goal from “fixing” your brother-in-law to “seeking to better understand and support him,” then I think there’s plenty of scope for meaningful, helpful action.

Q. Re: Stuck: I’m not sure if your answer was completely spot-on. I agree that the letter writer seems to have Evil Stepmother tendencies, but there might also be something else going on that’s alerting her that something is weird. An 18-year-old girl calling her father figure “daddy” is disturbing. It may be that the letter writer is picking up on some weird nefarious thing that’s happening and she can’t quite figure out what it is.

A: Sure, I’m of the opinion that daddy is a term that should generally stay in childhood, but this absolutely pales in comparison to the letter writer’s expectation that her boyfriend should stop considering his daughters to be his daughters. If the letter writer had said, “I love my boyfriend and want to get to know his children better, and I’m a little concerned about some of their boundaries and whether or not I can expect to build a separate life with him as they continue to grow up,” we’d have plenty to work with. But the letter writer asked how she could convince her boyfriend to abandon his children, and that supersedes everything else, to my mind.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

Gift Sets for Every Kind of Recipient

Gift Sets for Every Kind of Recipient

by Lori Keong @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

We set out to curate so many distinct, varied gift guides each year simply because gift-shopping is so specific to another person’s taste. Sure, when you’re down to the wire, you might consider just buying a gift card for that “impossible to shop for” person, but here are some gift sets we found on Amazon that might help to fill in the gaps: from a bounty of junk food to satisfy a college student to a best-selling baby gift set for new moms.

For a College Student Who Doesn’t Cook

An embarrassment of junk-food riches for someone surviving on Easy Mac and ramen.

Cravebox Deluxe Care Package Snack Box
$30, Amazon

For a Luxury–Skin Care Fiend

It includes their best-selling hand creams and some luxurious body oils and lotions that will make you smell like a rich person.

L’Occitane Gift Set
$154, Amazon

For a Person Who Loves Entertaining

Don’t miss the hidden pullout drawer that contains all the cheese knives and spreading tools.

Bamboo Cheeseboard and Charcuterie Set
$60, Amazon

For a Millennial

They’re not the Lush brand, or one of those unicorn bath bombs, but when they’re packaged like little Ladurée macarons, your giftee probably won’t even mind.

Bath Bomb Gift Set
$17, Amazon

For a Relative Who Loves Snacking

Sure, you’ll find many nutty gift baskets on Amazon, but this one’s exceptionally well-reviewed if you’re scrambling for last-minute gifts or just looking for a varied sampler plate to leave out for guests.

Holiday Gourmet Food Nuts Gift Basket
$28, Amazon

For a New Mom

Moms love Mustela’s sweet-smelling baby products (one told us recently that they are “the best-smelling baby products in the world”; writer Hillary Kelly is another big fan), so this starter pack of baby essentials is certain to be a hit.

Mustela Newborn Arrive Gift Set
$35, Amazon

For a Person Who’s As Serious About Exfoliating As Pharrell

A dermatologist-recommended facial-cleansing brush that will help keep your skin in pristine condition in between facials.

Clarisonic Perfecting Starter Holiday Gift Set
$129, Amazon

For a Seasonal Drink Enthusiast

A festive tea-sampler box that would please anyone who craves gingerbread lattes and spiced cider—with flavors ranging from Rum Raisin Biscotti to Spiced Ginger Rum.

Tea Forte Warming Joy Presentation Box
$20, Amazon

For a Person Who Would Enjoy a Meat-Lovers Pizza

So. Much. Jerky.

Buffalo Bills 12-Piece Jerky Set Gift Cooler
$50, Amazon

For a Boyfriend Who’s Trying to Get Into Skin Care

A very advanced skin care kit (a skin serum, an eye cream, and chemical resurfacing pads) that will help him upgrade his “Dr. Bronner’s soap and water” routine.

Jack Black Anti-Aging Triple Play Set
$100, Amazon

For a Coffee Snob

This coffee sampler is nothing to turn up your nose at: It’s sourced from 20 of Seattle’s award-winning, small-batch roasters.

Bean Box Gourmet Coffee Sampler
$24, Amazon

For a Creative Niece or Nephew

A giant coloring kit for an 8-year-old boy or girl stocked with crayons, colored pencils, and markers that they’ll have for years to come.

Crayola Inspiration Art Case
$17, Amazon

For a Person With a Sweet Tooth

They’re not exactly double-stuffed, but these cookies do come covered in a range of sweet gourmet toppings, from chocolate icing and sprinkles to nuts and crushed peppermint.

Barnett’s Chocolate Oreo Cookies Gift Box
$24, Amazon

For a Guy Who Wants to Optimize His Shaving Experience

A deluxe shaving kit (including an old-fashioned shaving brush) from culty men’s skin care line Baxter of California.

Baxter of California Shave 1-2-3 Kit
$72, Amazon

For a Wellness Enthusiast

Even though none of these wellness fanatics are asking for essential oils this year, they can still be a good source of relaxation for a yogi or chronically anxious person—make it a double-gift with an aroma-diffusing humidifier.

Essential Oils Gift Set
$13, Amazon

For an Aspiring Sommelier

A very sleek, all-black wine set that includes a nifty electric wine opener with a foil cutter and a cork dispenser.

Vremi 9-Piece Wine Gift Set
$30, Amazon

For a Burt’s Bees Devotee

For a true Burt’s Bees diehard who always has one of their creamy skin care products in their bag: Here, help them keep their supplies up with a travel-size selection of Burt’s best-sellers.

Burt’s Bees Essential Everyday Beauty Gift Set
$8, Amazon

For a Dad Who Loves to Grill Out

Stainless-steel everything for the guy who wants to round out his grilling collection.

BBQ Grills Tool Set
$27, Amazon

For an Outdoorsman

A very solid traveling flask set to bring on camping trips or on a hike.

Stanley Stainless Steel Shots and Flask Gift Set
$26, Amazon

For an Organic–Skin Care Absolutist

Filled with rich, skin-friendly ingredients like rice bran, coconut, chamomile, and Dead Sea clay.

Organic Homemade Soap Gift Set
$35, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Sydney Summer 2017 – Special Menu

by Emma Nguyen @ I Love Pho

Enjoy an Authentic Vietnamese Fresh & Tasty & Healthy Cuisine.  

The post Sydney Summer 2017 – Special Menu appeared first on I Love Pho.

Scientists Peek Inside the ‘Black Box’ of Soil Microbes to Learn Their Secrets

Scientists Peek Inside the ‘Black Box’ of Soil Microbes to Learn Their Secrets

by NPR Food @ Bay Area Bites

Microorganisms play a vital role in growing food and sustaining the planet, but they do it anonymously. Scientists haven't identified most soil microbes, but they are learning which are most common.

The Best Lunch Foods in Ho Chi Minh City

by fred wilson @ Back of the Bike Tours

What to eat for Lunch in Ho Chi Minh City a.k.a Saigon? Entering the world of Vietnamese food can be a daunting task for a beginner out there on their own. What is it? Where is it? Is it the best? These are the questions...

Dinner at Char Sue (NYC)

by Tina @ The Wandering Eater

I’ve recently had a dinner with an old college friend of mine Char Sue since we haven’t seen each other for several months. Char Sue is the kind of place where you would want to hang out with a few friends and have a casual dinner. The Asian inspired food menu tends to be on the heavier side since it’s catering to the Lower East Side neighborhood where you’re primarily surrounded by bars and you would want to pad your stomach with something carby, fatty and preferably, delicious before you start imbibing. While we aren’t going for a night out..

Post Holiday Eco-Solutions

by @ Green Home Library

When the holidays are over, you have an opportunity to utilize some post holiday Eco-solutions rather than add to the continual waste around you. These are ways to harness various resources from your holiday leftovers for the betterment of your community and the planet.

Scrape the Scraps

If you have a composting system setup, after holiday meal scraps are perfect to add. If you don’t, now is the best time to start one. Plus, if you use compostable products for your holiday event, this is yet another opportunity to drastically reduce your garbage footprint.

No compost, no problem. Pack up those leftovers and donate to a homeless shelter or make a soup out of the scraps and help feed the needy.

Scoop the Paper

Wrapping paper that can be salvaged, folded and stored will save you time, money and unnecessary waste when your next present needs to be wrapped.

Scoop up as much used wrapping paper as you can and toss it in a pile until you can go through it. Cut in squares and place in a box under your bed or in a back closet for a treasure trove of recycled-upcycled designs that would otherwise end up in a landfill. You can do the same with empty boxes and if storage is a problem, gently pull them apart and store flat with wrapping paper. When needed, simply glue, tape or staple corners back together and you have a free gift box ready to go.

Tree to Earth

If you celebrate the holiday with a real Christmas tree then it is your responsibility to put your tree back into the earth. With over 10 million Christmas trees ending up in landfills each year, recycling yours is essential. Sure, if a tree is in a landfill, just like many compostable products, it will eventually biodegrade. However, it is the release of methane gas from these and other biological landfill waste that has become a huge problem for global warming.

Recycled trees can be used for many things including landscaping mulch or stream bank stabilization. Some businesses that sell trees offer recycling incentives. You can also contact the National Christmas Tree Association or check your local listings for a Christmas tree recycling program near you.

E-Waste

With holiday gifts comes holiday waste and electronics are at the top of the list. The amount of e-waste that is produced has become a serious problem due to the degenerating toxicity from these devices.

Small Footprint Family reports that,

“Each year, 130 million cell phones are thrown out, weighing approximately 65,000 tons. Recycling your old phone prevents hazardous elements like mercury, cadmium and lead from ending up in our landfills.”

Before dumping your old cell phone, tablet, computer or other used electronic device look into energy efficient programs near you or afar able to recycle and re-use rare earth metals and other components. Some organizations will even send you a prepaid mailing envelope to ship your e-waste to their company while paying you for it at the same time.

Digital Thank You’s

Once all the dust settles, you may want to send out some thank you notes. Yes, it’s nice to receive a handwritten note in a mailed envelope however, practically speaking, it wastes paper.

There are hundreds of digital ‘thank you’ sites offering a variety of graphics and delivery options to make your digital thank you just as special as a handwritten one. Some even include picture uploads so you can send images of the baby and kids, pets, grandparents and more.

 

Post holiday Eco-solutions are easy and smart. All it takes is a little wherewithal to gather up the loose ends so your after holiday carbon footprint is significantly reduced.

In Love With a Truther

In Love With a Truther

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Mallory Ortberg: Good morning, poppets! Let’s draw a little closer to the fire and get started.

Q. Conspiracy theories: My cousin recently set me up on a date with a really great guy that she knew from work. At first, I was hesitant to go on a date with him as he is 43 and I am 27, however I decided to give him a chance and I was really glad I did. He’s smart, funny, and easy to hang out with. I am also very attracted to him physically.

The only bad thing, so far, is that during a text conversation, he alluded to believing that 9/11 was an inside job. At first I thought he was joking, but further questions revealed that he was not. We discussed it in person the next time we met up, and he was joking about it with me but didn’t change his stance. Is this a deal breaker? I felt bad afterward because I was basically making fun of him to his face not realizing he actually believed what he was saying.

A: It’s a deal breaker for me, but I’m not the one who has to go out with the guy. My best advice for you is this: Don’t look for reasons to doubt your instincts. If the fact that he’s a 9/11 truther doesn’t make you more excited about going out with him, then don’t try to talk yourself into overlooking it or making yourself feel bad for not taking that conspiracy theory seriously. You’ve only been on two dates, and you’ve learned something that really drew you up short and, it sounds like, makes you question whether or not you want to get to know your date any better. That sounds like a pretty good reason to wish him well and move on.

Q. Holiday hosting etiquette: Each year, my wife’s niece hosts a Christmas dinner for the entire, relatively large, family. Most years this is in the neighborhood of 40 people. Her mother-in-law is from another country, and they do a dinner theme around the mother-in-law’s native cuisine. The dinner and food are always very enjoyable, and we are sure to express our gratitude openly and often. This year, we received a text stating that we were required to bring $5 per person to cover the costs of the dinner.

On one hand, I enjoy the meal, and I enjoy the family time, so I have no issue paying. The $40 it’s going to cost my family is not going to break the bank. On the other hand, this, to me, is rather rude. If you do not wish to host, then don’t. If you don’t wish to host so many, then don’t invite everyone.

What is the etiquette of this situation? My wife’s first reaction was simply to say that we wouldn’t be going. I am not so sure how to react.

A: This is after the fact, so you’ve already either decided to cough up the $40 bucks en famille or done something on your own, both of which are perfectly reasonable choices to make. But your wife’s niece cooks dinner for 40 people every year. That’s a far cry from a big family dinner for eight or nine people; that’s the kind of dinner that requires professional-level strategizing, meal shopping, prepping until early in the morning, and keeping everything warm despite wildly different cooking times for each dish until it’s time for everyone to eat. $5 per person seems like an incredibly reasonable request to defray expenses so she doesn’t end up spending hundreds of dollars to host an annual dinner. It’s not like you stopped by your niece’s house for a casual pasta dinner on a Thursday night and later got a PayPal request for your share of the hot water needed to run the dishwasher—this is a big production, and it’s reasonable for your niece-in-law to ask that people express their gratitude “openly and often,” and with five bucks.

Q. Out-of-character behavior leads to horrendous breakup: Two weeks ago I attended a holiday party with my boyfriend and his family. We’ve been together for three years, and since we moved to his hometown, I’ve gotten to know his parents and sisters better. I forgot about new medication I was taking, had a few drinks, and became drunker than I have ever been in my life. (Counting this event, I’ve only been drunk three times, so it’s extremely out of character for me.)

I now know that I did something so horrible at the party that my boyfriend broke up with me via text and told me he has no interest in speaking to me ever again. I’m devastated. My now ex-boyfriend is the sweetest man I know, so I had to have done something cruel for him to do this. But because he won’t talk to me, I have almost no idea of what I did or said. I am really afraid that I was mean to his sister Amanda, whom I’ve never liked.

I am going crazy here, trying to figure out how to fix this and rebuild my life when I don’t even know why it’s going off of the rails. I’m so lost. Please, do you have any advice?

A: This sounds extremely painful and bewildering, and I have a lot of sympathy for what you must be suffering right now. But I think you do have some sense of why your life is going off the rails right now. As you yourself said, you drank with medication that’s not meant to be mixed with alcohol, then did or said something extremely hurtful and out of character. That doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily a terrible person or an alcoholic, but it does mean that you have at least one clear path forward, and that’s to re-familiarize yourself with the side effects of the medication you’re taking and make sure not to mix it with alcohol again.

If your ex-boyfriend is still too hurt to talk to you, then you shouldn’t compound the pain you’ve caused by continuing to ask him to tell you what you did that night with his family. That doesn’t mean you have to keep all these feelings inside. Talk to your own friends and family members about the pain and self-recrimination you’re experiencing. Ask for their emotional support as you grieve the loss of your relationship and deal with the pain of not knowing what you did to hurt your ex-boyfriend. See a therapist if you feel you need additional help.

It may be that when things aren’t so fresh, you want to write him a letter or an email to express your sincere remorse, reassure him that you’re not going to try to get him to talk to you again, and explain what you’re doing now to make sure you don’t mix your medication with alcohol again—not in order to get him to forgive you or to explain what happened, but because you genuinely regret causing him pain.

Q. Son’s gf’s college debt: My youngest son has fallen madly in love with a very sweet and ambitious young woman his own age (late 20s). She has a Ph.D. in child psychology and is in her postdoc year. He’s a high-school history teacher with no debt. She’s now looking for permanent employment. But, she’s almost $500k in debt and told him it’s college loans. I’ve done some research and spoken with experts in the field, and we’ve concluded that it is probably loans as well as credit card debt. I want to have an open and frank discussion with my son about how this could impact him should he decide to marry her. But I don’t want to be an interfering mother. Do you have some pointers for me to start the conversation?

A: I think doing research and speaking to field experts about the likely composition of your son’s girlfriend’s debts has already pushed you into “interfering mother” territory. That’s a lot! That is, frankly, way too much, especially given that your son is not engaged to this woman, that she has not asked him to pay for her debts, and that your son has not asked for your advice.

Your son is an adult, rapidly approaching 30, who can—and should—take responsibility for his own financial life, including contemplating marriage with someone with a lot of debt. He hasn’t given you any reason to think he can’t handle this one on his own, so let him handle it.

Q. Missing my daughter: “Eric” and I were together for five years and had a horrible breakup a year ago. While we were together I grew very close to his daughter “Amy,” and she to me. Amy’s mom has not been in the picture for many years. Amy took our breakup badly, and pretty much took my side in everything. We’ve kept in touch and often done things together since Eric and I split. We basically don’t discuss him.

I last spoke to Amy early in September. Since then she hasn’t called or texted. I’ve tried to contact her several times, telling her I miss her and asking about getting together. No response. I’m pretty sure she’s ghosting me, and I suspect Eric worked on her, telling her what a horrible person I am. Part of me thinks it’s better this way. Eric is a toxic person and I need to stay out of his orbit. But I really miss Amy. Should I continue to try to reconnect with her or let it go?

A: If she’s already ignored several of your messages about missing her and wanting to get together, I’m not sure how you can keep trying to reconnect with her. That doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to never hearing from her again—it may be that someday, when the fallout from your breakup with her father isn’t quite so intense, she gets in touch and you two can reconnect, but whether she’s stopped returning your calls because her father poured poison in her ear or for some other reason, you ought to respect her choice. She knows that your door is always open.

Q. Animal boyfriend: My boyfriend eats like an animal! Mouth open, uses his hands instead of the proper utensils, blows his nose at the dinner table, talks with his mouth full—the works! It grosses me out. If we’re at home, I generally turn up the music and try to block it out, but when we’re out it’s so embarrassing! We recently traveled to a foreign country and I was so shocked and embarrassed by his eating habits, I actually left the table and hid out in the bathroom.

Is there any way to broach this subject with him without coming off as snooty, or embarrassing him? For what it’s worth, his family eats the same way, so it’s not his fault he has no manners at the dinner table—he was never taught any. But we’re in our mid-30s. It’s time he learned.

A: Talk to him about it. Speak kindly, but if he gets embarrassed for a few minutes, that’s not the end of the world. You’re not doing him, or yourself, any favors by hiding in the bathroom or quietly stewing about his manners while he eats. Tell him what you’ve observed about his habits, that it’s important for him to develop better table manners, and stay brisk and matter-of-fact. This is something he can absolutely change, and you are doing him a favor in the long run by mentioning it.

Q. Re: Conspiracy theories: Thinking 9/11 was an inside job, or being on board with other conspiracy theories, isn’t an inherent deal breaker. Accompanying associated behaviors might be. My boyfriend is a conspiracy theory nut, and I disagree with 97 percent of what he believes, but he’s neither pushy nor aggressive about his beliefs, and doesn’t accuse me of being blind or a sheep for not believing it. Because there’s respect there, our differing opinions aren’t a problem.

I’d take a closer look at how he treats you for not believing 9/11 was an inside job. That will tell you more about his character and help you determine whether or not this is, indeed, a deal breaker.

A: Here is at least one vote for going on a third date!

Q. My mother is trying to turn my wedding into her second wedding: I am getting married next spring, and my fiancé and I are very excited to move to the next phase of our relationship. Wedding planning has been surprisingly easy, save for my mother. My mother has an opinion on everything in that she wants everything to involve her. She wants to pick out music for her to be seated to. She wants my fiancé to walk her down the aisle to her seat. She wants to wear a white dress to the ceremony!

What do I do here? My fiancé and I are paying for most of the wedding on our own, but my mother made a sizable donation to our wedding fund, which she claimed was “no strings attached,” but clearly there are many strings attached. My fiancé has suggested that we give her back her money, but we can’t afford the wedding without it. Please help!

A: You can’t afford this wedding without your mother’s money, but you can afford a wedding without your mother’s money. You can say things like, “Mom, I don’t want you to wear a white dress to my wedding;” or “Mom, we’re not going to have a special song for when you sit down before the ceremony;” or “Mom, Hephaestus and I aren’t looking for input on wedding planning. Let’s talk about something else.” If your mother subsequently demands to be included in the planning because of the donation she’s made, then I think it’s time for you to thank her for her generosity, give her the money back, and plan a day that feels like it’s true to the two of you, not to your mother.

Q. Re: Out-of-character behavior leads to horrendous breakup: I think after a three-year relationship in which the letter writer moved to her boyfriend’s hometown, she is owed more than a text message breakup and radio silence. Especially since she does not even know what she did. No matter how badly she behaved, the boyfriend is kind of being a jerk.

A: I mean, that really depends on what the letter writer did, and we’re as much in the dark about it as she is. There are some things that she could have done or said that might materially and permanently altered how he saw her, regardless of whether she intended to do or say them.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

Showing Love Through Food May Be Making Our Pets Obese and Unhappy

Showing Love Through Food May Be Making Our Pets Obese and Unhappy

by NPR Food @ Bay Area Bites

Over half of the dogs and cats around the globe battle the bulge. A pet obesity specialist says a deep human-animal bond may inadvertently be causing unhealthy emotional and physical consequences.

How to Find an Authentic Pho in Sydney

by Emma Nguyen @ I Love Pho

Today, you don’t have to pack your bags and travel all the way to Viet Nam just to satisfy your craving for pho. Vietnamese restaurants serving this mouth-watering dish can be found in different corners of the world, Australia included. However, over the last few years, restaurants have created their own versions of Pho. As...

The post How to Find an Authentic Pho in Sydney appeared first on I Love Pho.

15 of Our Best Vietnamese Recipes

15 of Our Best Vietnamese Recipes


NYT Cooking

15 of Our Best Vietnamese Recipes is a group of recipes collected by the editors of NYT Cooking

The Best Wireless Headphones

The Best Wireless Headphones

by Strategist Editors @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

To find the very best products that no human being would have the time to try, look to the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star ratings and lots of ’em) products and choose the most convincing. You’ll find the best crowdsourced ideas whether you’re searching for comforters, bed sheets, or even Christmas trees. Below, the best wireless headphones determined by the hard-nosed reviewers on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

Best Headphones Less Than $50

Best Workout Headphones

4.2 stars, 20,337 reviews
“I have yet to find a pair of earbuds that got it right, especially when exercising, UNTIL NOW!!! Yesterday, I ran my first 5K wearing these WITH sunglasses, and they were super comfortable and did not fall out. I have already recommended these to a couple friends. The sound is so good, too. It drowns out everything around you. The controls are easy to use on the move, changing tracks or adjusting volume. And pairing these to a phone is idiot-proof. Five stars all around. Well done!!!”

SENSO Bluetooth Wireless Sports Earphones
$30, Amazon

Best Foldable Over-Ear Headphones

4.6 stars, 7,541 reviews
“Go ahead and buy two pairs. Maybe three. I have to share mine with my wife. These are awesome! I bought these and a pair of Mpow Thor. These are much better. I wear them at work in my office job to drown out the distractions, as well as at my side job—my lawn-care business. They work very well to block out the loud engine noise and create a wonderful listening experience. I often listen to audiobooks, which are very easy to hear in a loud environment. These headphones have a rich and deep sound for music. As good as Beats, to me. A very long battery cycle is nice. I charge mine maybe once a week, if even that. And that’s listening for a couple hours at work, then two to four hours in the evenings. They adjust well and fit nicely. They don’t feel cheap.”

Mpow Over Ear Bluetooth Headphones
$37, Amazon

Best Noise-Canceling Earbuds

4.1 stars, 305 reviews
“Wow, these headphones are high-quality! They fit securely in the ears and don’t fall out. The cord doesn’t get tangled. They are Bluetooth and are supereasy to pair with your wireless device. On the cord, there are buttons that control the volume as well as changing between tracks. There is also a button for answering calls. You can also just say yes or no to choose to answer a phone call. I love that you can pair two devices at once with these headphones. The sound is amazing. It has a nice, crisp sound that can be adjusted as you wish. They do get pretty loud if you raise the volume up to the highest level. They are perfect for listening to while walking or exercising.”

LBell Wireless Headphones
$23, Amazon

Best Waterproof Sport Headphones

4.4 stars, 197 reviews
“I needed a pair of headphones that were sweat-proof and would stay on while jogging. I got these and they are absolutely amazing. Very comfortable, and exactly what I was looking for. I would definitely recommend them to anyone looking for headphones that fit great and stay on while running or working out.”

Sardonyx SX-918 Bluetooth Headphones
$30, Amazon

Best Over-Ear Headphones With Microphone

4.4 stars, 3,022 reviews
“Love these headphones! They are very comfortable. The Bluetooth has been pretty easy to pair with my phone every time I’ve used them. The included carrying case is huge, but well-made for protecting these things. The sound quality is spot on as well, with good clarity and range in highs and lows. I used them while mowing the grass two days ago, and they were awesome! The music drowned out the mower engine and gave me my zone to work. They were so good I was worried that I wouldn’t know what was around me if someone were to come up behind me.”

Avantree Bluetooth Headphones
$33, Amazon

Best Headphones Less Than $100

Best Cat-Ear Headphones

4.4 stars, 174 reviews
“OMFG it’s bloody amazing! I took it to Indiana Comic Con and it was the life of the party between cosplayers and noncosplayers alike. Even when I had no Wi-Fi to truly show it off, I was able to still get all the looks. Even a celebrity I was meeting liked it.”

Wireless Color Changing Cat Headphones
$70, Amazon

Best Noise-Canceling Over-Ear Headphones

4.1 stars, 6,182 reviews
“Above and beyond, probably one of the best pair of headphones I have ever purchased. Not only well worth the money, but I’ve been converted from Beats to these. Absolutely would recommend these. The sound quality is crisp and enjoyable, trust me when I say the noise-canceling version is worth the extra money. If you’re a fan of softer music like scores or jazz and hate that you can’t listen to it well in public, that mode helps quite well with it. The design is comfortable and fits snugly on the head. The ear padding is fairly well-set and actually feels like it breathes a little, so not a lot of worry for sweat from that area. Headband is snug, and the entire structure of it feels sturdy.”

Cowin E-7 Active Noise Canceling Wireless Bluetooth Over-Ear Stereo Headphones
$70, Amazon

Best Headphones More Than $100

Best Around-Ear Headphones

4.4 stars, 1,1116 reviews
“I freaking love these. I was using Beats Solo Wireless (rose-gold ones), and they are good. But after hours of wearing them, my ears would start to hurt. These are like wearing baby kittens on my ears!!! So soft and comfortable, and the sounds is amazing.”

Bose SoundLink Around-Ear Wireless Headphones II
$199, Amazon

Best Luxury Headphones

4.3 stars, 357 reviews
“These headphones exude pure luxury. They smell like a fine leather coat or the way an expensive pair of dress leather shoes smell when you open the box. Their craftsmanship is impeccable. No plastic or cheapness of any kind on these headphones. They are very comfortable. They are not as light as some headphones, but that is due to the use of metals instead of plastic. But that being said, they are still not heavy.”

Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless Headphones
$400, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Toy Story

Toy Story

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up below to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Q. Dolls: Before my paternal grandmother died, she would buy me an original American Girl doll every year for Christmas. I had the dolls, the books, and most of the accessories. My fondest memories of my time with my grandmother were playing with those dolls. I took very good care of them, and when I went off to college, I packed them up to be stored at my mother’s house. I have graduated and have my own place, so I went back to my mother’s to get my stored stuff. My mother gave away several of my dolls! A co-worker helped her out and mentioned her young daughter liked the dolls, so my mother just gave them to her! I was heartbroken, and we fought. My mother didn’t think it should matter since I had “so many.” I told her those dolls were worth a lot and she had no right to steal my things. I wanted her to tell me the name of her co-worker so I could get my dolls back. She refused and said that it was out of the question, that I would be embarrassing her.

My mother never liked my grandmother or how close I was to her or my father after the divorce. I can’t get over this. I took everything away from that house, and going through the boxes makes me cry. I don’t know what to do. Sometimes I think I should call up my mother’s office and figure out who has my dolls—there are only two or three women who have girls the right age. I could take my mother to small claims court, but that would ruin everything more. These dolls and a few pictures are all I have left of my grandmother. What should I do?

A: I’m glad to hear that you’ve already decided against taking this to small claims court. Whether or not you have grounds to extract a few hundred dollars from your mother there, it wouldn’t bring your dolls back, nor would it help the two of you repair your relationship. While I understand the strong attachment you had to these dolls, I can’t encourage you to find this little girl’s mother and demand she give them back, either. It’s certainly not this little girl’s fault. It would be wildly inappropriate for you to call your mother’s office and try to “find out” which of her co-workers has a daughter of doll-owning age. Please find a therapist who can help you work through these feelings of resentment and grief, and do not attempt to harass your mother’s co-workers.

I’m of the opinion that, post-college, if you’re living elsewhere, using your parents’ house as a storage unit with an open-ended, indefinite lease does not qualify as “taking good care” of something you don’t want to lose. That doesn’t mean your mother was right to give the dolls away, but it’s incumbent upon you, the owner, to take responsibility for where and how they are stored. It sounds like you’ve already removed the remaining dolls from your mother’s house; I encourage you to find a safe place to store them, along with the pictures of your grandmother, in your own home.

You have the right to be angry with your mother. You can have whatever conversations you need to with her about how her actions made you feel and how you’ve long believed she resented your closeness with your grandmother. If you cry when you go through the boxes of your few remaining heirlooms, go ahead and cry. All of those are appropriate responses to your situation. But taking your mother to court, or demanding a little girl give you her dolls, are not.

Q. Ungrateful child: I am 32 years old and a single mom to a 3-year-old daughter. I’m in graduate school and scheduled to graduate in May. I already have a job lined up after graduation. My daughter and I live rent-free with my parents, although I do pay a minimal amount for utilities and groceries, as well as take care of my other bills. Recently, my mother’s health has dramatically declined (debilitating arthritis, et cetera), and my father is not doing well either. They are only in their mid-50s. Rather than being grateful for what they’ve provided me with, I find myself resenting them. Whereas my mom and I used to be close, now we argue constantly. She thinks I’m ungrateful for the free child care and housing they’ve provided me. I think she uses it as a method of guilt-tripping me, and I wish she could recognize how hard I am trying. The stress of arguing can’t be good for her health, and it’s bad for my mental well-being. I should be more grateful, and I should be more understanding. What can I do to adjust my attitude and ensure we can live peaceably for the next six months until I can move out?

A: This is challenging! Six months is a short enough time that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and might not think finding temporary housing is worth the hassle, but it’s also long enough that you can’t just grit your teeth and muscle through it.

There are some pretty basic tools you can use when a conversation with your mother threatens to turn into a fight. You can say, “Hey, things are getting really heated, and I’m sorry I lost my temper. Let’s take a few minutes and talk about this later, when we’re both more settled.” You can take a walk and get some air when you find yourself getting stressed out. You can ask friends if they’re available for occasional child care—even a few times a month will help if your mother is feeling ill and overwhelmed running after a 3-year-old. I can’t promise this will make the next six months feel like a beautiful dream, but you’re coming from a good place to start with—you have sympathy and compassion for your mother’s situation, which does sound stressful, but you’re also clear on the fact that your parents’ generosity doesn’t entitle them to ask you for anything they want, at any time.

Q. “But what was she wearing?”: My lovely husband of 33 years has always supported me and our two grown daughters. He’s progressive politically, except for one bump in the road: He’s a “But what was she wearing?” kind of guy when it comes to rape and sexual assault. I’ve gone ballistic on the subject but to no avail. Now, because of the #MeToo stories, he wants to know if I was ever sexually harassed, and I told him about things that happened to me. His response is that it’s just because I was good-looking at the time. Yuck! Where is the responsibility on the male to just act like a decent person?

A: I mean, I’m right there with you—it is incumbent upon all adults to behave professionally at work, appropriately in public, and respectfully in private, regardless of what someone else is wearing or how good-looking (at the time!) she happens to be. Your husband ought to see that, and the fact that he doesn’t is frankly troubling. For him to push you to talk about your own experience with sexual harassment only to pull out the rug from under you by dismissing it immediately—and while getting in a nice little dig at your current appearance—suggests that he’s not interested in listening so much as he’s interested in shutting you down. If he thinks that “good-looking” women deserve to be sexually harassed by anyone who finds them attractive, that’s more than just a progressive bump in the road—that’s a significant red flag about his character.

Q. Finally figured out what annoys me about my friend: I have a longtime friend, since high school. We’re in our 60s. A group of seven of us from high school get together several times a month. This friend is generous and kind. She hosts or coordinates most of the events. However, she is pretty unyielding when others make suggestions about activities and doesn’t participate. The group frequently communicates in group texts and on Facebook. Whenever there’s a group conversation or a one-on-one conversation, she always brings the conversation around to her. Recently, we were chatting with a friend in the hospital following surgery. The spotlight hog interjected about how her Christmas decorations looked and, as an afterthought, asked the hospitalized friend how she’s doing.

I’ve gotten very frustrated with this friend but really enjoy my other friends in the group. How do I deal with her without blowing up?

A: You’ve known this woman for more than 40 years, so you should be able to have a difficult conversation about communication styles. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy—it sounds like part of your friendship’s longevity is due to not addressing difficult topics—but you have a solid foundation together, and you can do this. “I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but you often find ways to make a conversation come back to yourself before someone else has gotten the chance to speak. A specific example is when [mutual friend] was in the hospital recovering from surgery, and you started talking about your Christmas decorations. Later you asked how [mutual friend] was doing, but it was an afterthought. I find this frustrating and it makes me want to spend less time talking with you. If I were doing something like this, I’d want my friends to tell me so that I could make a change. I care about you and I know it’s not always easy to see patterns in our own behavior. I’ve been anxious to talk about this with you, because I don’t relish causing you pain, but this behavior is really limiting our friendship, and I don’t want that.”

Q. Re: Dolls: My parents did this as well. I had a collection of stuffed animals I adored and took a lot of emotional comfort in as a child. I came home for winter break and found my parents had donated them all—every single one—to the kids of their friends. I was heartbroken, and there was nothing I could do to get them back, and it felt incredibly cruel to me. I agree one shouldn’t use your parents’ home as a storage space indefinitely, but they should be courteous enough to give you a date by which to go through your stuff and move it yourself. More than that, parents, don’t assume because your kids are grown that they don’t still have attachments to their childhood toys.

Letter writer, I watched Toy Story 3 (particularly the bit at the end where Andy gives away his toys) over and over again to assure myself that the kids who now had my stuffed animals would give them a whole new lease on life. It still hurts that they’re gone. It’s OK to be angry at your mother.

A: Thanks for this—sometimes it can be difficult to know what to do with a powerful feeling of anger and hurt that’s not either “just get over it” or “lash out as quickly as possible against the person who hurt you.”

Q. Second date surgery: This is a fairly straightforward situation, but I’m not sure how to handle it. I’ve met a sweet guy, and we’ve exchanged numbers and have already gone on a first date. We have our second date tomorrow night, and three days after that, I’m having a laparoscopic (small incisions, in and out in a few hours) surgery. I’ll be on bed rest for a least a week, and since the surgery requires cutting into my abdominal muscles, it’ll be a while after the recovery before I’m able to sit up comfortably for a long period of time. I really don’t know how to explain all this on a second date without sounding like I have a weak constitution (I don’t—it’s gallbladder removal, which is one of the most common surgeries), or like I’m going to be incredibly needy for the next month or so after surgery. How should I broach this subject so the guy doesn’t think I’m not interested in seeing him again while I’m recovering, and so he doesn’t ghost me because he thinks I’m too much to handle?

A: If he thinks getting your gallbladder removed is too much to handle, then be grateful you’ve managed to weed him out early! Sure, the timing is weird, but reasonable adults generally understand that things like minor yet important surgery can’t always be planned around one’s future dating life. Just let him know, “Hey, in a couple of days I’m having my gallbladder removed, so I’ll be on bed rest for a while, but I’d love to go out again once I’m back on my feet.” Honestly, if you two really like each other, I think it will feel more fun and charming than anything else—for your third date, he might come by a week or two after your surgery date and bring tea and soup. Or, if that doesn’t appeal, you can stay connected over the phone or via text, and go out once you’re sufficiently recovered to visit a restaurant again.

Q. Not all in: I’m married with a child, and I’m not all in. I don’t want to move into a home I own and make it communal property. The marriage is fairly happy. We get along, and I love her, but I have my doubts to whether we’ll make it for the long-term. I have more than $100,000 in equity in the home and consider it part of my retirement plan. The home would be perfect for our family, but I don’t want to forfeit my sole ownership of the property. If we were to live there and separate, the property would be a communal asset, and she would get half. I would like her to sign a contract clarifying ownership of the property but am sure that it would be met with copious tears and as an acknowledgment that I think the marriage might not last forever. How might I proceed to move forward with the move, protect my assets, and not signify my belief that we might not be together forever?

A: If your wife were controlling or abusive or prone to extreme financial mismanagement, I could understand wanting to protect your assets before leaving, but you’re not currently contemplating divorce—you’re trying to figure out a way to hedge your bets in the middle of a marriage to a woman you’ve already had a child with. You could get a post-nup, but not every state enforces those, and you’ll of course have to deal with the possibility that your wife will be hurt and angry at the prospect.

I’m not sure what kind of contract your wife could sign, if you bought a house, that would clarify you owned it. Even if you purchase it individually and don’t put her name on the mortgage, she might still have a case for calling it community property if you two divorced, depending upon what state you lived in. I’d advise you to consult a lawyer if you want to know more about how your state might view a home purchased during your marriage. That said, I think your best bet is to identify, with your wife, what issues are causing your doubts about your marriage’s longevity and to invest in a marriage counselor right now rather than a divorce lawyer later.

Q. Dating a 30-year-old virgin: I just found out that the 30-year-old guy I’ve started seeing is still a virgin (and not by choice). This really surprised me, because he is nice and charming. Is it a red flag that none of his previous girlfriends have wanted to take him to bed?

A: No. It just means that he’s a virgin. If he hasn’t done or said anything that you consider a red flag, then you’re in the clear. Talk a lot, figure out what you both want, communicate your limits and interests and desires, and have fun!

Q. Name: I am getting married this spring. This winter I have tried very hard to integrate my 6-year-old daughter and myself into my fiancé’s family since we don’t have much of one (only my grandmother is alive on my side, and my ex is worthless). My fiancé loves my daughter and has plans to adopt her after the wedding. His parents are very accepting as well. My problem is my sister-in-law to be, who is pregnant and very self-involved. Beyond referring to her baby as the “first grandchild,” she is having a girl and chose a name very similar to my daughter’s and my own (think Eliza, Lisbeth, and Elizabeth). She wants to refer to her unborn baby by the common nickname that both I and my daughter use, and she wants us to change how we are addressed because it would be too “confusing for the baby.” I laughed it off when she first brought it up, but she has been unrelentingly insistent. It is annoying to be called by my full Christian name when I haven’t gone by that since Catholic school, but I would be OK to suck it up in the name of family harmony—but not my daughter. My fiancé and I left my daughter in the care of his parents and sister for a romantic weekend, only to get back and find my daughter in tears because she wasn’t allowed to be called by her name anymore. My future sister-in-law refused to address my daughter by her nickname, even when my daughter objected. She even told my daughter that it wasn’t her name anymore, as it belonged to the baby.

I am beyond furious. My fiancé wants to chalk it up to his sister’s hormones, but right now all I can think of are my daughter’s tears. How exactly are my in-laws going to react when their biological grandchild gets here? They just waved their hands while their daughter stole my 6-year-old’s identity! My fiancé thinks I am making a mountain out of a molehill. Am I crazy or is this out of line?

A: This is a very long letter about something very simple: “No, I’m not going to change my name, or my daughter’s name, because you want to name your child the same thing. This conversation is over.” You do not need to justify or explain your choice. The fact that your family has thrown their support behind your sister-in-law’s bizarre demand does not make them right; it merely makes them all equally deluded and manipulative. The fact that your fiancé thinks you are “making a mountain out of a molehill” for not wanting to change the name you’ve always had to humor his sister’s whim says something about how much time and energy he’s invested in giving in to her demands over the years—don’t join him.

Q. Re: Ungrateful child: Please also recognize that you’re grieving the early loss of your mom’s vigor and her ability to do and be everything you imagined (for herself, for you, for your child, et cetera). And she’s grieving the same things as well! By acknowledging this new factor, you can build a safe place for each of you to process your feelings. You may also benefit from a few counseling sessions (your campus may offer them for free), so you can gain guidance into how to more effectively channel your emotions and regain a healthier relationship with your mom.

A: That’s a great reminder of some other issues that may be at play. Take advantage of whatever resources your campus has to offer!

Mallory Ortberg: Thanks, everyone! See you next week.

If you missed Part 1 of this week’s chat, click here to read it.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

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Pho Soc Trang


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Vietnamese Restaurant Kelowna Downtown

Pho 888 | Home | Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine

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Our 33 Best Asian-Inspired Finger Food Recipes

Our 33 Best Asian-Inspired Finger Food Recipes


SAVEUR

From satay to maki to Asian chicken wings, feed party guests well with these Asian-inspired finger food recipes.

The Best Board Games From 2017

The Best Board Games From 2017

by Keith Law @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

The ongoing boom in tabletop board-gaming shows no sign of slowing any time soon; Boardgamegeek lists nearly 600 titles with a publication year of 2017 and enough user ratings to put them on the global rankings, and more than 2,000 other titles that were released somewhere, somehow during the year.

I of course haven’t tried them all—I’ve played or demoed somewhere north of 50 games this year but south of 100, and if I had played more than that I’m not sure I’d admit it anywhere my employers could see it. It is, however, nearly the end of the year, and before the apocalypse descends upon us all, here are my choices for 2017’s best games, organized into various categories. It’s worth noting that one game I wanted to love was Legend of the Five Rings. It has some of the best art of the year, and was co-designed by one of the folks behind the excellent Game of Thrones card game’s current edition, but it’s just … so … slow. The game has already found a cult following in the three months since its release, so perhaps it’s just not my cup of tea, but I found it just too languid.

With that out of the way, on to the top picks.

Best Overall Game

Azul
Azul is just the second title from Plan B Games, the new company founded by former Z-Man president Sophie Gravel, and between its simple mechanics, high-quality components, and perfect amount of screw-your-opponent, it’s a huge winner. Designed by Michael Kiesling, who made one of my all-time favorite Eurogames, Vikings, Azul asks players to fill out a five-by-five grid on their individual boards by taking tiles in five colors from the central supply. There’s a big game-theory aspect to selecting which tiles to take and which to leave for later (or to try to foist on one of your opponents), on top of the challenge of figuring out how best to deploy the tiles you take on your board. It plays quickly and works as well with two players as it does with four.

Azul
$80, Amazon

Best Heavy Game

Wasteland Express Delivery Service
Heavy in the literal sense, Wasteland Express’s box is enormous, weighing over seven pounds, with hundreds of cardboard and plastic pieces. The gameplay itself isn’t quite as heavy as that might imply, though, and you can finish a game in under two hours. More mid-weight than high complexity, Wasteland Express has players moving around a postapocalyptic map to bring water, food, or weapons from one city to another in exchange for cash or to fulfill contracts. You get to trick out your truck with over a dozen different “mods,” things that give you more firepower when you fight neutral raiders, or that let you pass through irradiated areas unharmed, or that let you carry more goods on a single haul. It’s a little Mad Max, a little Fallout, and a little Galaxy Trucker all in one.

Wasteland Express Delivery Service
$56, Amazon

Best Party Game

Werewords
Werewords is a spinoff of the popular One Night Ultimate Werewolffranchise, which has become a brand unto itself. This time it takes the same core deduction and bluffing mechanic and adds a bit of Twenty Questions. Players are assigned roles that they keep secret, other than the Mayor, who runs the show and learns the game’s magic word but also has a second, secret role of his or her own. Players must attempt to guess the magic word (it’s not please) via yes-or-no questions before the four-minute timer runs out. However, one player is the Werewolf, working at cross purposes to everyone else. The game also comes with extra roles to vary play, and it’s tailor-made for expansion packs. The game requires at least four players but, like many social deduction games, it’s better with more people around the table (and drinking).

Werewords
$17, Amazon

Best Game for Two Players

Santorini
Santorini was first developed by a math professor in the early 2000s, but only saw a limited release as a strictly abstract game this year, when Roxley Games put out this Greek-mythology-themed version that also builds in numerous expansions and variants to make it almost like multiple games in one box. Players work with two builders on a five-by-five board, using one builder per turn to start or add a level to an adjacent building. A player can win by constructing a three-story building and then getting one of his/her builders to stand on top of it—but only if the opposing player doesn’t slap a dome on top of the building first, which precludes anyone from moving to that space. It’s quite replayable on its own, but the game also includes “god” and “hero” powers that give players one additional power beyond the simple move-and-build mechanic, with 40 different cards that can be played in many combinations.

Santorini
$27, Amazon

Best Reissue

Stop Thief!
I admit to serious bias on this one, as the original Stop Thief! was one of my favorite board games when I was a kid, not least because of the little electronic “phone” that came with the game and gave you clues that told you when the culprit was running, or when he broke a window or triggered an alarm. The phone is no more, alas, but of course Stop Thief! now works with an app, and the game itself is the same but with updated graphics. Players compete to track down a specific thief by unearthing clues and following the sounds the app gives to represent his movements. Other great games to get reissues in 2017: Torres, London, and Through the Desert.

Stop Thief!
$30, Amazon

Best New Board Game App

Through the Ages
This isn’t the best board game to come out as an app this year (that would be 7 Wonders), but it is the best port of any board game to tablets or phones in 2017, and the biggest reason is the tutorial. Through the Ages is a very heavy Eurogame that takes three to four hours to play, taking the 4X concept from video games and trying to bring it to the table top without losing the complexity. Learning it can be daunting. I came into this app without ever having played the physical game, so I started off cold and found the tutorial incredibly useful and quite entertaining. (I won’t spoil it, but it has the best joke I’ve ever seen in a game tutorial.) The developers also did a fantastic job of using the illusion of 3-D perspective on the 2-D screen to replicate the giant tableau a player would have in the physical game. It took me an embarrassing number of plays to finally beat the medium AI, but at least each run-through only took 15 to 20 minutes instead of 180.

Through the Ages
$10, iTunes

Best Expansion

Cities of Splendor
Marc Andre had a good year, releasing Majesty—his very good and long-awaited follow-up to his 2014 Spiel des Jahres–nominated game Splendor—this month, as well as the four-in-one expansion Cities of Splendor back in August. Splendor was a fairly closed game with tight, streamlined mechanics, but Andre came up with four mini-expansions that all come in one box, each of which brings one specific twist that alters the base game in a significant way. The Cities expansion replaces the noble tiles with city tiles that you earn by meeting a specific point total and accumulating the right combination of gem cards. The Trading Posts give you new powers. The Orient expansion expands the table from 12 cards for purchase to 18. And the Strongholds expansion gives Splendor a more directly competitive aspect by letting players reserve development cards with their stronghold tokens. Each gives the base game a needed boost, changing the pace and/or making it more interactive with other players.

Cities of Splendor (Expansion to Splendor)
$36, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Welcome

by janvier @ Tasty Vietnamese | Tasty Vietnamese

Please check back soon for our specials. Tasty VietnameseUSA ryan@liquidtrends.com

Comforting Bowls of Mixian – Weekend Lunch at Little Tong (NYC)

by Tina @ The Wandering Eater

The brutal cold winter in New York City makes many people yearn for a large steaming bowl of soup and noodles to warm themselves inside and out. While there are many options for that general food category, I was curious to eat at Little Tong with a few friends. Little Tong, run by chef Simone Tong, specializes on mixian rice noodles and overall this place is worth the hype. We started off with very tasty starters of ghost chicken and beef tartare. The ghost chicken was a delicately spicy poached chicken dish. The fried shallots added some crunch and savory..

Plan ahead with our calendar of all the 2018 Baton Rouge Mardi Gras parades and festivities

by Allie Cobb @ [225]

Some people say Christmas is the best time of the year, but here in Louisiana, we know Mardi Gras season takes the cake. The good news is it’s already fast approaching! With more than seven parades in Baton Rouge alone, there are plenty of opportunities to get your fill of fun this year. Krewe of Mutts...

The post Plan ahead with our calendar of all the 2018 Baton Rouge Mardi Gras parades and festivities appeared first on [225].

Indelibly Om

Indelibly Om

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Mallory Ortberg: Good morning, everybody! Let’s get to chatting.

Q. I got an insensitive tattoo in a prominent area a long time ago: I am a white person who grew up without any faith and started practicing Buddhism during college. I attended a temple, studied the history, and genuinely followed it for 13 years. During that time I got a large om symbol tattooed on my hand, which admittedly was a fad. While Buddhism is still extremely near to my heart, I kind of let it go after having to move to an area with no temples. And as the conversation about cultural appropriation has developed, I’ve been feeling deep tattoo regret.

I’ve seen a few tattoo artists who have turned me away because any cover-up will likely only turn into a giant blob. I also sought laser removal but was told the color and placement of the tattoo will render treatment ineffective. Recently, an Asian friend of mine asked me to cover the tattoo around her family because it really bothers them. I feel like a total jerk. I’ve gotten several annoyed stares and I’m not sure how to make things right.

Appropriation was just something I was not aware of a decade ago when I got this tattoo. I try to keep it covered with sleeves or gloves, but I need a better long-term solution. What do you think is the best path here?

A: Since there are a lot of people with tattoos they now regret who can’t afford (or aren’t good candidates for) laser removal, there are a number of tattoo-specific concealers and foundations on the market that are waterproof, easy to apply, and relatively inexpensive—and a lot easier to put on every day than gloves. The newfound self-awareness and discomfort you’re experiencing now have spurred you to want to act differently and be more mindful of other people’s experiences, which is a good thing. Moreover, you’re aware that your own personal connection to Buddhism is not the same thing as this particular tattoo, and that covering up the latter doesn’t mean eradicating the former.

Q. 26-year-old virgin: I am a 26-year-old woman who is college-educated and makes a decent salary. I have a somewhat healthy social life, although, I wish I went out more on the weekends. I’m also the friend giving out advice on dating and men, but I’ve never been on a date, nor have I kissed a guy (I don’t count kissing boys when I was a kid). Most importantly, I’ve never had sex.

These facts didn’t bother me when I was in college, but now that I see more women my age and even some of my former high school and college classmates getting married, I feel uneasy. I was admittedly shy around guys I liked and really insecure back then. I was raised by an abusive family who convinced me I was unlovable, so I avoided men out of fear of rejection. I am more confident and secure with myself now. My problem is, I don’t know how to put myself out there. I feel all of the men in my age range are so experienced in dating that they’d be less interested in dating the “26-year-old virgin.”

A: I wish so much that I could put all of the people who write to me about feeling self-conscious about their virginity in their 20s, 30s, and beyond in touch with one another—not necessarily as a dating service, but at least so everyone could feel less alone. There’s a reason the old chestnut “don’t compare your insides to everyone else’s outsides,” while hoary, is true—not every guy in his 20s is a wildly confident, profoundly sexually experienced dating champion. Many guys in their 20s are also virgins. Many guys in their 20s have also never been on a date. Many guys in their 20s who have had sex/been on dates are not necessarily thrown by the prospect of going out with someone who hasn’t.

Your best bet, I think, is to be as honest as is comfortable about where you’re coming from, and to look specifically for the kind of guy who is interested in going out with you, with your particular history. That doesn’t mean you have to open first dates with a laminated sexual résumé—you’re not required to furnish a list of references to a prospective new partner, whether you’ve had a lot of romantic experience or none.

The best way to “put yourself out there” is to, I’m afraid, simply put yourself out there, and that’s going to entail a new sort of risk, whether that’s signing up for online dating, asking men out, going to singles events, or asking friends to set you up with prospective guys. Some guys will be interested; some won’t. You might go on a great date with someone and not hear from him again. You might go on a terrible date with someone who thought you had a great time and wants to go out again. That’s common to almost everyone who dates, so please don’t ascribe any discomfort or boredom or lack of mutual interest to your sexual status—it’s just part of the game. If a guy seems turned off by the fact that you’re a virgin, although it won’t feel good, it’s in fact a very good thing—you’ve just avoided getting involved with someone who wasn’t right for you. Don’t feel that you have to apologize for not having had sex before, and good luck! Dating is weird, and tricky, and sometimes really, really fun.

Q. Update—Dolls: I read your advice and a lot of your readers’ comments. Some of them were really hurtful and some helped me put my feelings in perspective. I had already sorted and given away everything I didn’t want before I left for college across the state. Other than my bed and a rocking chair, everything else—including my dolls—had been packed into 12 boxes and left in a corner of our basement. I wasn’t taking up a lot of room, I was never given a deadline, and I never thought my mother would steal from me or I would not have left my things there. I graduated in May and got my job and new apartment in September.

I am not going to take my mother to court or try to get the dolls back. I did, however, try to talk to my mother again. I told her how much those dolls meant to me and how much it upset me that she gave them away. She dismissed me again. I realized this wasn’t about the dolls—it was about my mother minimizing and interfering with my relationships. Everything is zero sum with her; if I give affection to my grandmother and father, then that is less for her. She’d rather keep up a competition with a dead woman in order to “win,” and in doing so, she lost me. I am not staying with her for Christmas. I have already volunteered to work the holidays and will be spending New Year’s with my father and his new girlfriend. I don’t know what I am going to do in the future, but right now, I need time and space away from my mother. You and your readers helped me in the end. Please thank them for me.

A: I’m so glad you found the feedback helpful, and I’m particularly glad you were able to figure out that there’s more behind your feelings about your mother than just the dolls. It sounds like the history between the two of you is fairly fraught, and it’s going to take some time for you to determine how much space you need from her. Congratulations on making Christmas plans that don’t involve being run through an emotional wringer—I hope you have a great time working and seeing your father, and that your future relationship with your mother will be one full of robustly maintained emotional boundaries.

Q. Do I give it back?: I discovered my boyfriend sleeping with my best friend/roommate. There was plenty of drama; she moved out, and I tried to pick up the pieces of my life. During the move, some of her expensive jewelry went missing. I was out of town at the time and she texted me asking me if I had seen it. I told her I hadn’t, and she insinuated I stole it. I was furious and shared the texts with our group of friends; it devolved into a mess where she got cut out completely. Even my ex-boyfriend came down on my side. This happened a year ago. Then, while getting a new fridge, I discovered some of the missing jewelry and a lot of junk. My cat had batted them off the table and under the fridge.

I feel awful, but I really don’t want to contact her again at all. I lost 15 pounds from stress during that time. I do not want to bring it up again or validate her delusions. I didn’t steal anything from her. What is the right thing to do? Donate it? Treat myself to a spa day? Mail it to a relative of hers from a different state and disguise my handwriting? Leave it in a drawer?

A: The right thing to do is to give her back her jewelry. You don’t have to talk to her, and you don’t have to listen if she doesn’t believe that the cat knocked it behind the fridge, but you’ll feel enormously better about yourself if you don’t carry out the crime she once wrongly accused you of committing. Mail it to her with a brief note about finding it behind the fridge and be done with it. You don’t have to speak to her if she wants to reopen the conversation.

Q. Re: I got an insensitive tattoo in a prominent area a long time ago: I don’t think the letter writer should cover the tattoo. He or she got the tattoo during an important exploration of their spirituality, and while Buddhism did not end up as their spiritual path, they still consider it meaningful. This is not cultural appropriation, and any member of any religion should understand this kind of explanation.

A: There are a number of responses along this line, but it’s important to remember that the letter writer wants to cover the tattoo. Saying, “This isn’t cultural appropriation, and you should feel fine about it” when the letter writer does, in fact, consider this tattoo to have been a faddish sign of cultural appropriation suggests that this idea is somehow coming from the friend who had asked him or her to cover it up. It seems clear to me, from the letter writer’s letter, that while the request has highlighted some of their own feelings about that tattoo, that they had for a long time come to think of the tattoo as faddish and misguided, and to wish they had not gotten it in the first place.

Q. Re: 26-year-old virgin: This could have been me, down to the abusive family—and add 10 years. Now I’m in a stable, very sexually satisfying relationship. I realized I have to make myself happy. I let my family history and my insecurities get the better of me, and I realized that everyone is messed up in their own way. Putting yourself out there is step one. It may also help to talk to your gynecologist; she may have some suggestions on how to make things easier physically. By the time I lost mine, I was so terrified of the physical aspect I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it. And you don’t have to share your lack of history if you don’t want to.

A: I’m so glad to hear that you’re happy and healthy and doing well. For what it’s worth, while I think the letter writer’s anxieties about trying to seek out sexual/romantic relationships are completely understandable, I think it’s also helpful to remember that “losing” one’s virginity is a fairly arbitrary social construct. There are a lot of different ways to have sex. One doesn’t “lose” something after having sex for the first time any more than one “loses” something after roller-skating for the first time. That’s not to directly compare sex to roller-skating, obviously, but I think it’s better to frame your desire as “I’d like to start having sex” rather than “I’d like to lose my virginity.”

Q. My horrendous college roommate (and bully) is the mother of my child’s new best friend: I recently discovered that my 6-year-old daughter “Hannah” has a new best friend who is the daughter of my college freshman roommate “Lillian.” Lillian was exceedingly unkind to me when we lived together. She made fun of my weight, my lack of friends, my awkwardness. She and her friends would help themselves to my laundry detergent and food. My few attempts to address Lillian’s behavior and how much it upset me ended in tears (and Lillian telling me we were in college now so I should grow up). I still have difficulty talking about Lillian, to my husband or my counselor, because I’m ashamed that as an adult I allowed myself to be treated that way.

Hannah adores Lillian’s daughter Skyler, and until I met Skyler’s mom in person, I was thrilled that my daughter had made a new friend. Since I’ve lost weight and go by my married name, Lillian didn’t recognize me (or has chosen to pretend she doesn’t recognize me). She’s eager to arrange a play date (and possibly a sleepover) over Christmas break, and the very idea makes me want to vomit. I don’t feel comfortable allowing my daughter around Lillian until I’ve assured myself she isn’t still as cruel as she was in college (about 18 years ago). My husband supports whatever makes me feel comfortable, but in the end, I want what’s best for Hannah. How do I bring this up with Lillian—or am I being immature for wanting this assurance at all?

A: You’re not immature for not wanting to spend time with a woman who bullied you for your size and your emotional vulnerability, nor are you immature for feeling anxious at the thought of letting your little girl spend time with her.

First and foremost, I think you should speak more to your husband and counselor about your feelings, despite the obvious judgment you’ve been passing on yourself for “allowing” yourself to be bullied. I know it’s not as simple as to say “just don’t be ashamed of the thing you’re ashamed about,” but you should not fault yourself for Lillian’s behavior. You repeatedly attempted to tell her how her cruelty affected you and were dismissed every time. The fact that she is now pretending not to remember someone she lived with for a year is evidence that she has neither grown nor changed from the bully she was in college.

It would be sad, of course, if you said something to Lillian now and as a result your daughters did not get to spend as much time together. But how much worse would it be if Lillian focused her cruel barbs on your daughter? I think it’s worth speaking to her about it, although I think you should discuss with your husband and therapist first what exactly you’d like to say, and what you think you’ll do if Lillian declines to apologize (which seems likely). I’d suggest something like: “Lillian, when we were roommates in college you bullied me for my weight, my loneliness, and my emotional vulnerability, and it hurt me deeply. I tried to ask you to stop repeatedly, and you didn’t. Obviously I’m concerned at the thought of letting my daughter stay at your house. I don’t want to relitigate the past, but I don’t want you to treat her the way you treated me.”

Q. Crush: When I was 14, I babysat my brothers and our neighbors’ son “Danny.” Danny was going through a very hard time and basically lived with us for about a year, before moving in with his grandmother. I ended up going to college at 16 and moved across state. Danny has stayed close to my brothers and I saw him sometimes over the years. Now I am 30, have a great job, and own a house. Danny, who is now 23, moved to my city and recently came over to help me with some home repairs. Sparks flew: He is cute, charming, and funny. After the repairs were finished, he made me dinner. Then Danny confessed to me that he has always had a crush on me and still does. He wants to take me out. Seven years isn’t that big of an age gap. My dad is 14 years older than my mother. I am very tempted by this, but I am weirded out by the semifamilial dynamics. I also really disliked it back in college when I saw creepy older guys trolling for barely legal girls. I would never want to be like that. Can I get a blessing or back-off here? I don’t trust my own motivations.

A: I answered a similar question (with a few meaningful differences in terms of age) a week or so back, but I’m going to give you different advice. You say you’re anxious at the prospect of seeing yourself like these “creepy older guys,” but Danny is 23, not “barely legal,” and it’s been well over a decade since he lived with your family. In the time since, he’s grown up completely independent of you. The two of you have been reintroduced to each other as adults, and that meeting rekindled a childhood crush of his. Presumably, when he says he’s always had a crush on you, he doesn’t mean he’s been single-mindedly pining and refused to date people his own age, simply that he had a youthful infatuation that’s been reawakened by this second meeting. So there doesn’t seem to me to be an obvious imbalance of power, or that you’re contemplating going out with someone scarcely on the cusp of young adulthood. That doesn’t mean you should go full steam ahead if you feel anxious or uncomfortable, however—it’s important to pay attention to your concerns.

Spend some time thinking about the possible outcomes. What if you two date and it doesn’t work out? Are you more interested in preserving the friendship, or does the risk seem worth it? Could you find a way to maintain a friendly relationship after a breakup, given that your respective families are fairly close? Does Danny seem like a relatively well-adjusted adult with a dating history that includes people who aren’t you? Be honest about what you’re anxious about, but don’t feel like there’s something inherently predatory about your position. Danny lived with your family for a year as a child, then moved on—you didn’t raise him. He’s a 23-year-old adult who asked you out on a date.

Q. Re: My horrendous college roommate (and bully) is the mother of my child’s new best friend: Do not engage Lillian directly. She was a horrible person back then, and her current behavior is strong evidence that nothing has changed. There is no reason in the world to trust her with your child. Seriously. Never leave your child unsupervised with her. The good news is that 6-year-olds change best friends like the rest of us change socks. You don’t need to encourage or discourage anything. (Discouraging will just make Skyler that much more desirable as a playmate.) Just let the friendship run its course. But trust your gut on Lillian.

A: Here’s an alternative option if you don’t want to speak with Lillian directly (which would, frankly, make a lot of sense, given her past responses to your attempts to speak with her). There’s nothing wrong with saying, “Sorry, we’ve got plans over the break” and declining to let your daughter spend the night at her house without going into detail over your past history.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

Childless Burden

Childless Burden

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up below to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Q. Husband embarrassed by my infertility: My husband and I have been married for five years. We have no children because I have been unable to get pregnant, even with the help of fertility treatments. We are set up with an agency to adopt, but that has also been a lengthy and emotional process, which has included a match with a birth mother who ultimately broke the match because her mother didn’t like us.

Now that my husband’s sister-in-law just had a baby, he’s more desperate than ever to start our family. He has recently told me that he is “embarrassed” by the fact that we are almost 35 and childless, and he places the blame squarely on me being “unable to produce a child.” The truth is, while I have been diagnosed with a hormonal disorder, it hasn’t been proven to be the reason why we haven’t gotten pregnant. Nonetheless, I feel ashamed and hurt by these comments. I fear I may lose my husband over this. What should I do?

A: Couples’ counseling, get thee to a couples’ counselor yesterday. I know that dealing with infertility can put a strain on any relationship, and over the course of almost any marriage both parties will eventually (and inevitably) say cruel and hurtful things to one another, but framing your infertility as some sort of biological failure wherein blame can be apportioned as assigned is cruel, unnecessarily divisive, and ultimately unproductive. Be honest with your husband about how painful and unloving his words were. Make it clear that he cannot speak to you that way, especially if the two of you are planning on adopting and raising a child together—that’s no way to model familial affection for a little kid. If he can’t see the gravity of what he said, and if he’s not willing to apologize and mend his ways, then it might be time to consider parting from him, but here’s hoping he comes to his senses and tries to make things right before it’s too late.

Q. My dog: Three years ago, I asked my brother and his girlfriend to take care of my dog while I went away to school. The first year was fine, but midway through the second, my brother broke up with his girlfriend and moved out. I panicked and asked her if she would still take care of my dog (she had a house with a yard while my brother and I lived in apartments). She agreed but told me come pick my dog up in three months. I wasn’t able to meet the deadline and begged her for an extension. Then my dog had to have some expensive surgery (I gave her some cash later on) but since then, she has been later and later in responding to me.

I admit I wasn’t as diligent as I should have been but I had a lot on my plate with my final year of school and two internships. Now she refuses to give back the dog. She finally called me back after I bombarded with texts. She told me I was harassing her, she was going to call the cops, that I had “abandoned” my dog so it was hers now, and she microchipped and registered him as hers. I don’t know what to do. Please how do I get my dog back from her?

A: I’d encourage you to familiarize yourself with animal abandonment/ownership laws in your area; it’s possible (though not likely) that you still have some legal claim to the dog. That said, while I’m sympathetic to your feelings, I think you should put them aside and look at the facts. You asked someone else to take care of your dog for three years—a not insubstantial portion of the dog’s life—then, when given a deadline to resume ownership, you were unable to do so. If you didn’t register the dog as yours and never had him microchipped, then I think your brother’s ex owns the dog in a legal and a logistical sense.

Sometimes people have to temporarily give up pets through circumstances entirely out of their control, but it’s not like you were evicted or a victim of bad timing. You made a decision to prioritize your “final year of school and two internships”—which is, frankly, understandable—and now you’re experiencing the consequences of that decision.

You can be sad about this, you can experience regret, you can wish you had prioritized things differently, but you should use that as an impetus to behave differently if you ever get another pet in the future, rather than try to force this woman to give up the dog she’s been responsible for during the last three years and has clearly grown to love.

Q. Mother diagnosing everyone (especially me!) with mental disorders: I’ve come back to my childhood home for winter break, and my mother has been declaring my every action a sign of mental illness. (My three siblings have all diagnosed with some form of mental illness; I am the only one who is not, and I have talked to several therapists.) I twitched my leg? A Tourette’s tic. I’m stressed out about a problem I’m having? Anxiety. She has also self-diagnosed herself with OCD.

It really irritates me to have my every thought or movement dissected like this, and she’s even started diagnosing the people I tell her about stories from college. I’ve asked her to stop multiple times, but she claims it’s her duty as a parent, and also mentioned one time that “figuring out what people have gives her sympathy for them.”

When I was younger, we really struggled to get my siblings diagnosed and she did a lot of research and work to make it possible for them to get help, but now she seems to think that I need that too when it’s very clear to others that I am doing fine. I don’t know how much more I can take. I go to college nearby and visit often so this is not something I can just wait out. What do I do?

A: If visiting less often is an option, I think that’s your best choice. If you absolutely have to go home, that’s one thing, but if you merely find it convenient or enjoy staying someplace with an in-unit washer and dryer, I think you should curtail your visits. You’ve tried setting a verbal limit with your mother and she’s ignored you, the best and most effective way to follow up with that is to back up your words with actions. “Mom, I’ve told you not to diagnose me; if you can’t stop, I’m going to have to leave.”

If for whatever reason you can’t limit your visits, you can still leave the room, go take a walk, call a trusted friend who’s able to listen to you vent about these bizarre attempts to play armchair psychiatrist. If, when you’re trying to tell her about a friend you’ve made in one of your classes, she insists on diagnosing them as well, you get to say: “Mom, I’ve asked you not to do this. I want to be able to tell you what’s going on in my life, but not if you’re going to treat stories about my friends like case studies.” If she can’t let up after that, then you stop telling her stories about your friends.

What your mother doing is sad and bizarre, and I’m so sorry you have to deal with this right now, but your best way forward is to set big, neon-flashing limits between yourself and this behavior. Don’t try to reason with her about it, or let her draw you into an argument about why it’s OK because she enjoys doing it. Just make it clear that you’re willing and able to spend time with her, to whatever degree she’s capable of honoring your simple request—if she can’t do that, then you’re going to hang up/leave the room/cut the story short and wait to try again later.

Q. Should you tell?: I recently went on a series of dates with a guy that I was really clicking with. However, when it got more intimate, he was terrible! It was like he had no idea what he was doing and he didn’t seem to show a lot of concern for how it was for me. We’re in our 30s and have both had multiple prior relationships. We have a dinner date tonight and I’m thinking of canceling and telling him the truth about why, as I think I’d want to know. Should I?

A: Sure! It would be one thing if he seemed unsure and you thought you guys could try again with some more explicit instructions and requests, but if you think he’s a mostly indifferent lover, then don’t waste your time trying to turn him into a conscientious one. Cancel the date, tell him you just weren’t feeling the physical connection, and move on.

Q. Re: My dog: I wish you had left off the first sentence of your advice to the truly former dog owner. The ex was extraordinarily generous to not only keep the dog, but to pay for and take care of a dog that needed expensive surgery that the LW only gave some cash for later on. The letter writer needs to put the needs of the dog, who is well-cared for and loved, first and move on now, not explore legal options.

A: That’s fair! This woman has put her time and pocketbook on the line repeatedly for the dog; if we were watching a heartwarming movie about the emotional rewards of pet ownership, we’d all be cheering for the original poster’s brother’s ex to keep the dog. The original poster should move on; it’s unlikely that they have legal rights to the dog, given that they apparently never registered or microchipped him, but frankly even if they do, they ceded the moral claim a long time ago.

Q. Reverse baby pressure: I am 40, my fiancé is 49. He wants kids more than me. When we first met I was 37, and I told him that I would be open to children, but only if it happened naturally, no intervention. He agreed. He also agreed to be the primary caretaker.

I out-earn him and had no desire to leave my job. Shortly after our engagement he accepted a job out on the West Coast, with the intent to do that job for a year and then move back to the East Coast. As a result of many factors beyond his control, it actually took him almost two years to get back. In that time not only have I aged, but I am up for a promotion at my job. The job he will work here has him traveling for two weeks out of the month.

I told him at this point that I did not think kids were in the cards. I have showed him all the pregnancy stats and the risks to me. I also told him I did not want to be pregnant until married, and since I was not going to be able to take time off from work, he would have to adjust his schedule as originally agreed. He says he cannot do that. He is angry at me for not taking time off from my job and thinks it’s my fault. Now he says he is questioning his decision to marry me. I have explained that I will try to get pregnant but it is unlikely.

I am furious. I feel like he is looking solely for an incubator for his child and that I mean nothing to him. He’s never cared for an infant, has no idea how much time it takes, and no idea how it affects a woman. He also knows realistically he would have a hard time at almost 50 years old going out and finding a woman who is significantly younger than him who wants kids, and not be used for money. What gives? I feel like I am in “bizarro” world—shouldn’t I be the one asking for the child?

A: There is no “bizarro” world; the idea that it’s the natural order of things for only women to want to have children and for all men to have to be cajoled into the idea is patently untrue. You both seem to have been relatively honest with one another at the outset, only for you both to assume the other would eventually come around to your way of thinking, and since then you’ve both dug your heels in and gone on to assume the other isn’t doing his or her fair share of the work of trying to meet halfway.

It’s not quite clear to me if your partner is upset you won’t take time off work for the actual pregnancy, or if he’s trying to change the terms of your initial agreement by suggesting you take on child care responsibilities, but either way, you’re absolutely right not to want to contemplate having kids with him. You two might benefit from couples’ counseling to reassess your mutual goals and figure out how to communicate with one another better, but I think you should continue to be clear that you’re not interested in getting pregnant on the terms that he’s offering, and that you’re in no position to change your mind as long as the two of you feel this at odds with one another.

Q. Re: Should I tell?: Am I the only one thinking that it’s super premature to write off a guy based on their first intimate experience together? Unless he did something outright abusive, a couple’s first time together can be awkward so it may be prudent to give him another shot.

A: If your bar for sleeping with someone a second time is “he wasn’t abusive,” then that’s your prerogative, but that’s an awfully low bar.

Q. How do you tell your boyfriend he’s in love with someone else?: My boyfriend of nine years landed a great job about a month and half ago following a several-year struggle with switching careers. This should have been a good turning point for both of us, but along with the new job came the realization that he would no longer be working with a woman he’d grown rather close to in his old role. Ever since then, he has been more irritable with me, very sensitive to what I say, and suddenly extremely concerned with problems we’ve had in our relationship for many years. He keeps trying to tell me she’s a symptom of our problems—not the problem—and yet he’s told me how much he cares about her several times. He’s had a couple of multihour conversations with her late at night, and even bought her a very expensive Christmas present. What do I do?

A: Address reality. You don’t need him to admit that he’s in love with her or agree with your perspective. The subject of your letter is “how do you tell your boyfriend he’s in love with someone else,” which suggests that you’re fairly convinced at this point that he’s not simply lost focus or temporarily infatuated. Tell him what you’ve seen: That ever since he stopped seeing her on a regular basis he’s irritable, hypersensitive, and newly focused on the problems in your relationship. Moreover, he’s in the same breath reiterating how much he cares for her while also claiming she doesn’t have much to do with the problems you two are experiencing.

Whether or not the two of them ever slept together, he’s had an emotional affair (that appears to be ongoing). It’s not up to him to say whether or not his relationship with her is a problem or merely a symptom, it’s a problem for you because your boyfriend is currently pouring the most, and the best, of his emotional energy into his relationship with her. If you think it’s worth trying to work through this, and he’s willing to stop seeing her, then you can certainly give it a try; if you think you have sufficient reason to end the relationship, then I think you should break up with him.

Q. My friend prefers my husband’s ex: My friend Javi, who I know through my husband, throws parties every year for his birthday, but he never invites us. We asked him about it and he said it was because Sonya, my husband’s ex-girlfriend, was invited and he didn’t want it to be awkward for her. I was offended by it and decided that as long as I wasn’t invited to his birthday celebrations, he was not getting a birthday gift. I believe that’s a natural consequence to leaving us out.

The problem is, he keeps buying us and our son gifts for our birthdays, which wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t because this year we didn’t throw any parties. He even gave one to my son for Christmas. Now the one feeling awkward is me.

A: It’s always deflating when someone isn’t slighting us as much as we wish they would so we could get well and properly mad at them, isn’t it? The way I see it, getting mad is a nonrenewable resource, and we should all try to save it up for instances where we can really enjoy ourselves.

Javi isn’t a super-close friend of yours, and he appears to have a pre-existing relationship with your husband’s ex; once a year he doesn’t invite you to his birthday party, but otherwise he sounds friendly, approachable, and interested in your happiness. I think you have a good opportunity to let this particular resentment go. Maybe Javi’s never going to be your best friend, but if he wants to send you and your son Christmas presents and occasionally go to the movies together, then I think you should accept his casual friendship. That doesn’t mean you have to start getting him presents for his birthday—lots of adults don’t buy other adults birthday presents—but encourage your son to write him a thank you note when he receives a gift, and be polite and friendly when you two run into one another.

Q. When to walk: I’ve been in a long-distance relationship for a few years now. We met when I lived in his country for work. We see each other about six times a year for a few weeks at a time. While I love him dearly, I’m starting to crumble without having an endgame in sight. I’ve talked to him about this and he’s adamant that he’ll propose when he’s ready and not a moment sooner, that he wants it to be a surprise, et cetera. I have told him it doesn’t need to be some big elaborate thing; I’m more concerned about being together. There are other things to consider, like the considerable time the visa will take, which we can’t expedite.

I don’t want to keep having this conversation to be met with a vague ‘we’ll get there.’ I shouldn’t have to beg to take the next step. I don’t know how much longer I’m willing to hold out for this. How do I communicate this more clearly without issuing an ultimatum? I’m at a loss.

A: Issue an ultimatum! Ultimatums get a bad rap, but I’m not suggesting you force him to jump through a lot of elaborate hoops in order to prove his love. You’ve told him repeatedly that you’re anxious about the future of your relationship, and that you’d like to enter into an engagement together as equal partners after having talked about what you both want. He’s heard you say that, and his response was, “No, I want to create an elaborate surprise at some non-specific future date.” That’s not going to work for you and is in fact expressly not what you want. If you don’t want to continue having vague conversations about “getting there” someday, then it’s incumbent upon you to make yourself extremely clear. “I don’t want to be surprised by a big, showy engagement. I want to be with you, and I want to start taking steps towards living together, but I’m not willing to continue in a relationship where you hold all the cards in terms of what we do next. This is a deal breaker for me. Are you willing to compromise on this?”

Mallory Ortberg: Thanks for chatting, everyone! Remember to register and microchip your pets.

If you missed Part 1 of this week’s chat, click here to read it.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

A Vietnamese Christmas Menu - I'm Not the Nanny

A Vietnamese Christmas Menu - I'm Not the Nanny


I'm Not the Nanny

Instead of our usually baked ham for Christmas dinner, I'm planning a Vietnamese Christmas menu: eggrolls, hotpot and who knows what else?

Five Good Things That Happened to American Workplaces in 2017

Five Good Things That Happened to American Workplaces in 2017

by Slate Staff @ Slate Articles

The past year brought us many reasons to worry about our chances of achieving that happy work-life balance we dream about—given the seemingly endless number of regulations and worker protections the Trump administration has cut, the major changes to the National Labor Relations Board, and now many questions about what the largest piece of tax reform legislation in history will do to our economy. Still, it’s worth remembering that even a tough year has a silver lining, and there is hope that our best work-lives are still ahead of us. From a national movement to snuff out toxic work cultures to state and local innovations for balancing work and family, 2017 offered some good with the bad.

Here, members of the Better Life Lab team at New America highlight five seriously good things that happened for American workplaces in 2017:

1. #MeToo

In September, the courageous voices of a few women set off a tsunami of disclosures of widespread workplace sexual harassment across sectors as varied as movie-making, news media, politics, and academia. Amplified by social media and the #MeToo hashtag that allowed women from all walks of life to share their experiences with harassment and make the case for its pervasiveness, the groundswell removed prominent men from their positions of power. More importantly, #MeToo and the surrounding disclosures, while horrifying, spurred a broader conversation about behavior in the workplace and sex and gender and power dynamics. Men and women are re-examining their workplace interactions and employers are thinking anew about how they create structures and processes to allow for victims to tell their stories and end these all-too-common abuses. —Amanda Lenhart

2. Schedule stability in Oregon

In August, Oregon became the first state in the country to pass a law ensuring schedule predictability and stability to the hourly workers of large employers. The law, which goes into effect in July, requires employers with more than 500 workers to give their employees advance notice of schedules (one week in 2018, two weeks in 2020), adequate rest (10 hours) between shifts, and the right to request certain shifts or workplaces—or pay a “predictability” premium. The law, which passed with solid bipartisan support, is designed to both put an end to the erratic and unpredictable schedules that wreak havoc on the lives, health, and livelihoods of hourly workers and to help businesses by creating a healthier environment for workers that will reduce costly absenteeism and turnover.

In recent years, increasingly erratic schedules have become the norm for the hourly workforce through a combination of new scheduling software and the pressure to cut labor costs. With behemoths like Walmart, McDonald’s, Home Depot, and Kroger, the retail and fast food sectors are by far the largest civilian employment areas in the United States. Pressure from online competitors like Amazon has forced what some call a retail jobs “apocalypse,” with, for instance, more department store jobs lost in the past 15 years than coal mining or factory jobs. The Oregon predictable scheduling law follows city ordinances in Seattle, San Francisco, and New York and is seen a model for legislation that lawmakers from both parties can support. —Brigid Schulte

3. Hawaii’s solution to the elder care crisis

In July, Hawaii passed the Kupuna Caregiver Assistance Act, ensuring that senior citizens in the state and their working family members have access to the elder care they need. The act grants primary caregivers who work at least 30 hours a week with up to $70 a day in assistance from professional home aides. Hawaii rose to face the challenges presented by an aging population and an extremely high cost of living, a challenge that the rest of the United States faces or will soon face. Working family members who also perform unpaid elder care, a role primarily held by women, can now remain in the workforce. The benefits of the Kupuna Caregiver Assistance Act extend beyond the family and into local businesses as employers can now retain valuable skilled workers.

The passing of this landmark legislation carries implications for the future of elder care in the United States. Hawaii’s program serves as a potential inspiration and a data source for how other states could enact similar legislation. For American workers increasingly sandwiched between their careers and the need to provide care to kids and their aging parents, Kapuna represents a badly needed path forward. —Roselyn Miller

4. Paid parental leave in San Francisco

Life got a lot easier for many working parents in San Francisco this year. That’s because the city passed a new paid parental leave law and became the first city in the country to offer six weeks of fully paid parental leave. It officially went into effect in January. Even before that, California was already a good place (compared with other states) to have a kid: It pays 55 percent of a worker’s salary for up to six weeks. This new city law requires that employers pay the 45 percent difference, and it was expected to raise the average weekly salary from $743 to $1,351. It could make an especially big difference for low-income populations that don’t work for big tech giants and don’t have access to generous leave policies.

Unsurprisingly, the business community’s reaction to the new law has been mixed, and some economic analysis has suggested it could slow hiring and job creation. But right now, it’s impossible to predict the ultimate outcome and impact on families and on business at large. And it’s impossible to know whether it could or should be a model for other cities. But it is possible to applaud San Francisco’s spirit of experimentation—of trying something rather than nothing and for giving the rest of the country a starting point for action. —Elizabeth Weingarten

5. The rise of remote work

As one of only two countries in the world offering zero weeks of guaranteed paid leave to workers for family or health crises (alongside Papua New Guinea), the U.S. workforce is desperate for more jobs that don’t require onsite, regularly set shifts. And 2017 seems to have made even more managers and workers converts to the glories of flexible working than ever before. According to a 2017 report from FlexJobs, a service that helps companies recruit flexible workers, remote working has increased by 115 percent in the past decade. With the uptake of new technologies like Zoom, for all your video conferencing needs; Slack, for regular interoffice chatting and info-sharing; and seemingly endless options for finding pop-in co-working spaces in your own neighborhood, the reasons for employers not to accommodate teleworking are fewer than ever.

To help meet these needs, a new job board, Werk, exclusively connects job-seekers with companies that want to attract remote and flexible workers. The demand for setups that allow Americans to both live and work at the same time is here. Here’s to hoping 2018 is the year more workplaces step up to meet it. —Haley Swenson

Fight Mineral Depletion in Your Favorite Greens

by @ Green Home Library

From the world of climate science comes the unsettling news that carbon dioxide, or CO2, actually reduces protein and nitrogen in staple grains like rice, wheat and barley.

CO2 Will Not Improve Plant Nutrition

Previously, it was thought that CO2 would improve plant growth and, as a result, food plant yields. Not so. In fact, atmospheric CO2 increases carbohydrates like starch and sugar, but depletes essential trace minerals, often more than nine percent.

That’s a lot of loss when it comes to the 13 essential minerals, 7 of which are vital to life: calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and zinc (some scientists even include sodium, which is abundant in most diets).

The Seven Vital Nutrients

...are considered essential to everything from the immune system, the heart, and the Central Nervous System, to adequate hemoglobin in blood, sexual maturity, and metabolism. Diets low in minerals, especially zinc  and iron, result in poor growth in childhood, an immune system poorly equipped to fight off infections, and a greater number of maternal and child deaths.

This depletion in the bioavailability of minerals is “systemic and global” and may dramatically worsen the prevalence of “hidden hunger” and obesity. This type of malnutrition is typical of poor and undeveloped countries because many people cannot afford the fruits, vegetables, dairy and meats necessary to provide complete nutrition.

Lack of Plant Nutrients Raising Obesity Epidemic?

Unfortunately, it is also being seen in greater numbers in developed nations as the disparity between rich and poor grows. In the USA – according to New York Time columnist David Brooks – this gap is about 0.45, or worse than Iran. Brooks also notes that income inequality in New York City is similar to Swaziland. Miami is like Zimbabwe, and Los Angeles is equivalent to Sri Lanka.

Looking into the future, study author Loladze suggests that these food plant deficiencies might contribute to the rise in global obesity as people eat increasingly starchy grain crops, etc., consuming more and more to make up for the lack of vital nutrition.

What You Can Do

You can make sure that you (and your family and loved ones) do not suffer from vitamin/phytonutrient/mineral deficiencies. According to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, broccoli sprouts are a superb source of minerals like calcium and magnesium, containing 10 to 100 times more cancer and inflammation fighters than full-sized broccoli plants, as well as vitamins and essential fatty acids produced during sprouting. Broccoli sprouts also help detox from many environmental pollutants like benzene.

They are easy to grow with a little planning and care. They are also easy on the budget, requiring little more than an old jar, some cheesecloth, and some seed. You can use sunflower seeds, broccoli seeds, and alfalfa seeds, to name but a few.

The "Indoor Salad Garden"

You can also grow some small vegetables indoors, in an “indoor salad garden”. Dr. Mercola, a leading health expert, recommends watercress, which reportedly has greater nutrient density than either broccoli or alfalfa sprouts.

You can even add various lettuces, green onions, arugula, spinach and mesclun to your salad garden. You can build racks to set in front of patio doors – but not directly, as this will freeze the plants. You can buy plant lights at any big-box home and garden store. Or you can spend up to $500 for a full-featured, tiered indoor growing system.

In short, as mega-farming and increasing CO2 levels rob plants of their nutrition, you can feed your family well on an hour or two a week planting, growing and harvesting sprouts and other salad vegetables.

Storing Your Home-Grown, Nutrient Rich Greens

Once your plants are harvested, be sure to store them in USA-made, BPA-free plastic food containers manufactured from recycled plastic. These eco-friendly food storage containers will definitely “green” your kitchen, even if it is red and blue.

Top 15 Things to Do This Week in Houston: January 15 to 21, 2018

by 365 Things in Houston Staff @ 365 Things to Do in Houston

Make the most of your week with our top 15 event picks happening in Houston from MLK Day, Monday, January 15 to Sunday, January 21, 2018. Also in January 2018 Top 15 Events This Month Top 10 Games & Sports Events Top 10 Food & Drink Events Top 9 Live Shows & Concerts Top 8 […]

The post Top 15 Things to Do This Week in Houston: January 15 to 21, 2018 appeared first on 365 Things to Do in Houston.

Baton Rouge restaurants open on Christmas day 2016 - [225]

Baton Rouge restaurants open on Christmas day 2016 - [225]


[225]

Looking for a Christmas dinner alternative to standing over the stove all day preparing meats, pies and lots of potato-based side dishes?  Luckily, a few restaurants in the Baton Rouge area will keep their doors and kitchens open on Christmas day. Check out who’s open below.  Note: We reached out to dozens of restaurants and these confirmed they...

Spending Christmas in Saigon, Vietnam

by fred wilson @ Back of the Bike Tours

Christmas is nearly a month away, and can be trully a magical time in Vietnam (minus the snow). If you decided to spend our favorite holiday in the South of Vietnam, make sure to check out our video on what Xmas is really like like...

5 Bites: Un-pho-gettable Vietnamese Food in Oakland

5 Bites: Un-pho-gettable Vietnamese Food in Oakland


Bay Area Bites

Craving tasty Southeast Asian fare? Check out these five Vietnamese restaurants in Oakland.

Relationship Unmoored

Relationship Unmoored

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up below to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Mallory Ortberg: Good morning! Let’s get chatting.

Q. Is he insensitive? Or merely conservative?: My boyfriend and I have been together for two years, and he is loving, caring, and dedicated. He’s in the medical field and enjoys helping his patients. Most of the time, I can see myself marrying him and being happy, but some things he says politically make me nervous, and I’m worried that he’s too uncaring about other people’s situations. He doesn’t have a problem with Roy Moore being a senator because “he hasn’t been convicted.” He seems to judge sexual harassment victims for not coming forward earlier and doesn’t understand why some wouldn’t.

I’m a politically involved liberal, and he’s not, so I know he doesn’t think a lot about these topics and can be thrown off. Sometimes he will also say anything to end a fight. How can I tell if he’s just more conservative than me? Or if he’s just just defensive (I admittedly come on really strong when I question him)? What is a character problem I should be concerned about? I love him, but he’s making me nervous.

A: If your boyfriend’s stance on what kind of person should hold elected office is “Roy Moore is fine by me, as long as he hasn’t been convicted of sexually assaulting underage girls,” then he is not defensive, or thrown off, or someone who hasn’t spent enough time thinking about these topics. He’s a bad person.

It’s possible for someone to be loving, caring, and dedicated to their partner, to work hard at their job, and to hold beliefs that are so repugnant that the good does not outweigh the bad. You should be more than “nervous” that your boyfriend thinks the only question he needs to consider about a man accused of sexual assault by five different women is “Has he been convicted?” Pay attention to this nervousness—it’s your gut trying to tell you that this man is not safe to be around, that if you ever experienced sexual harassment, assault, or violence, he would not believe or help you. He is telling you everything you need to know about his character. Listen, and leave him.

Q. Dye job: Is it ever acceptable to make a request about your partner’s appearance? I would never comment on something like weight or unchangeable physical characteristics (nor would I want to—I think my wife is beautiful). But what about easily changeable things? My wife has recently stopped coloring her hair, so now she is all gray. We are in our 30s. Would I be a jerk if I asked her to go back to the dye job?

A: It’s not beyond the pale of acceptable things to say to one’s partner, but it’s also possible that you might hurt your wife’s feelings, or that she’ll say no to your request. If you two can typically have productive conversations about fraught topics like personal appearance comfortably and affectionately, then you might consider bringing it up. You can say that you really liked the color she used to dye her hair, and if she ever went back, you’d be totally into it. But if she likes the gray, or doesn’t relish the hassle of keeping a dye job refreshed, then you should drop it.

Q. Adolescent embarrassment: I’m in my late-30s but for some reason am painfully embarrassed by my pre-teen/middle school years. I don’t want any throwback pics or “hey, remember how you used to...” discussion. It’s completely irrational. I was not tormented and had no particularly traumatic incidents. Just your garden-variety awkward. Anyway, I’ve never told anyone this because I realize it’s nuts. If things come up, I just laugh along and change the subject as swiftly as possible. But recently a family member has started posting clips from old family videos on Facebook. I am absolutely mortified at the thought of some of the videos that I know they have of me being made public. On one hand, I think that I should try to just laugh it off and let it go, and that making a big deal of it would just draw attention to it. But I’m not exaggerating when I say my stomach is in knots just thinking about those videos. Why can’t I see the humor in those years the way most people do?

A: You do not have to see the humor in your adolescence just because some other people see humor in theirs. Your feelings do not need to be justified by the experience of others! You can say to your relative, “Hey, I’m glad you’re enjoying these old videos. Would you please not upload any including me? I’d prefer not to have any videos of me as a child made public. Thank you so much.” You can also unfollow/detag yourself/mute your relative on social media if even videos that don’t include you, but remind you of that time in your life, make you feel uncomfortable. It’s fine to feel sensitive about this, and there’s plenty of relatively small steps you can take to avoid this source of anxiety.

Q. Reading too much into his ex pattern: I am 36 years old and have been in a relationship with a great guy for almost two years. He is 43. We are talking about marriage and possibly kids if that works out. I have zero issues with our relationship—it’s great. The only concern I have is that prior to dating me, my boyfriend only dated very attractive women under 26 years old. Some of them were even as young as 20 or 22, while he was in his mid-to-late 30s. I guess I am concerned that someday he will want to go back to that. I am not sure where this fear comes from, and I am not even sure what I want to communicate—“Hey, our relationship is great, but I have a fear, based on nothing, that you might want to go back to dating college-aged women.” I am being ridiculous. How can I get over this?

A: This fear is not based on nothing, and it’s not ridiculous. It’s based on a series of choices your boyfriend has made. Your goal should not be to “get over this.” Your goal should be to talk to your boyfriend about his past and to share your feelings, anxieties, and questions with him openly.

You’re not talking about an age gap between two adults in similar life situations, or the occasional exception—for most of his life and well into his late 30s, your boyfriend has dated college-aged women. That’s a pretty significant pattern, and there’s a pretty significant difference between an adult who’s been living independently for a few years and someone who was a senior in high school two years ago. How did he meet those women? How did they talk about the difference in their ages? What did he think about the potential imbalance of personal power inherent in a 38-year-old dating a 20-year-old? If he shuts down or dismisses the topic, that’s a sign that he hasn’t thought critically about it, and that should worry you. Not because he “might want to go back” to dating extremely young women, but because it’s an indicator of how he sees and treats women.

Q. Re: Is he insensitive? Or merely conservative?: I’m not sure I agree with Prudie’s answer on this one. As much as it’s certainly a possible red flag, I remember having a truly horrible argument with my now-husband, when we were first dating, in which he argued that rape culture wasn’t a real thing—after all, he’d never heard of it!—and I stormed out of his apartment in tears and almost dumped him. In the intervening years he has started listening to the things women (and other minorities) have to say, and has become possibly a better feminist than me (he is, among other things, spearheading a gender equality campaign in his workplace to recognize women’s unpaid contributions). The key character trait driving this change was a willingness to truly listen to other people and change his mind when confronted with new information. I think the letter writer probably needs to make that same assessment about her boyfriend, and I hope she gets as lucky as I did. But I agree that if she doesn’t get that sense from him, she needs to run, run, run.

A: I’m glad to hear that your husband came to listen and pay attention to you when you talked about rape culture. That said, I don’t think it’s incumbent upon anyone, particularly women, to stick with a partner in the hopes that they eventually come to believe in things like sexual assault and harassment. It would be a good outcome if the letter writer’s partner listened with an open mind, apologized for his previous dismissal, and went on to behave differently. It would also be a good outcome if the letter writer ended their relationship over this.

Q. Poly, maybe?: I recently got out of a very long-term relationship. I hadn’t expected to enter the dating world so soon, but I met a guy while traveling for work and made an instant connection with him. I only travel to his area a few weeks a year, so I stayed in contact with him and we chat almost every day. Well, I’ve just recently met someone else more local (once again, it caught me by surprise). I know I’m not necessarily ready for a relationship with either, but I’m really starting to like both of them. I’ve always felt I could be polyamorous, as I feel that people have the capability to care for and love multiple people, but should I continue spending time with both of them? How would I even bring this up with them? I feel like down the line, I’ll be forced to choose.

A: It’s great to think about this sort of thing before it comes up, but it’s worth remembering that one of the guys you’re seeing lives far away and you only get to see one another a few weeks a year. You don’t appear to be facing an imminent “Are we exclusive?” conversation. If you’re interested in poly dating, I’d encourage you to do some research about how other people make it work; it never hurts to have more information on your side, and you can probably benefit a great deal from hearing more about what mistakes and pitfalls others have experienced.

As for these two guys, it sounds like—so far—everything is going great. As long as you’re honest about what you feel (“I like you, I’m not looking for an exclusive relationship, I want to keep seeing each other”), you’re in the clear. If you want to talk about the possibility of polyamory with one or both of them, just say, “Hey, there’s no smooth way to open this conversation, so I’m just going to go for it. I’m interested in dating, but I’m not interested in monogamy; are you down for that?” If the answer is “No,” by the way, that doesn’t mean you did something wrong or that you shouldn’t have brought up the subject at all. It just means you’re both looking for different things, and your relationship has reached a natural end. Good luck!

Q. Mother off the rails: My father has just collapsed from a cancer none of us knew he had. He is ailing, and my mother is absolutely freaking out. She has always had undiagnosed, untreated mental illnesses. Since his retirement, she has clung to my father. My sister is there trying to manage things while my father is in the hospital. If she leaves the room, my mother freaks out. Last night mom called me, hysterical, saying that she had been “abandoned” (my sister went to the gym). She wandered the neighborhood wailing and sobbing until a neighbor came out to talk to her. Sooner or later, someone may call the police. She has not been to a doctor since I was born (I’m in my 50s). She won’t listen to anyone and wouldn’t let a caseworker into the house to assess the situation. I am estranged from all of them but would like to get her some help. Is there an agency I can contact? Once he passes, what would happen to her if she can never be alone? (She will never voluntarily go into a home.) They are both in their 90s. Please someone help me help them before someone gets hurt.

A: You can contact your local division of the Area Agency on Aging (here’s a relevant example from my neighborhood, for example), and/or get in touch with your city’s social services department and request an elder check. Here’s an elder care directory with specific information on what resources are available in different states. Since you’re estranged from your family, and it doesn’t sound like you’re planning on re-establishing contact, I think your best bet is to make sure your sister is aware of all the resources and assistance that may be available to her as she tries to care for your parents. If any readers have experience or advice they’d like to share, let me know and I’ll print that, too.

Q. Swiped a crush: I recently asked out a man and he said yes (yay!). However, it turns out my roommate is also interested in him. I did not know this at the time, and I’m wondering if I should tell her about it and make sure it doesn’t interfere with our friendship, or if I should just cancel the date.

A: Don’t cancel the date, but do let her know that you’re going out with him—not because you have to apologize for going out with a guy you didn’t know she sort of liked, but in the interest of full disclosure, and so she’s not surprised if he shows up at your place in a few weeks for a third or a fourth date.

Q. Daughter doesn’t want to visit me: My daughter is 16 years old. Her mother and I have been divorced for most of my daughter’s life. For years, I have had to fight my ex’s attempt to keep my daughter from me and to keep joint, 50-50 custody. However, as a teen my daughter has been rebelling—stealing, failing school, et cetera. I’ve punished her by taking her phone away or not letting her go over to friend’s houses. Instead of backing me up, my ex sides with my daughter—without asking me why I punished her. Now my daughter refuses to visit me and even called the police on me for sending her to wash her dishes after a meal. Do I force her (enforce my court order), or realize that a 16-year-old not wanting to see her dad is old enough to make her decision?

A: You do have the legal right to custody, of course, but if your goal is to preserve the possibility of a better relationship a few years down the road once your daughter is out of her teens, I think it’s wise to be judicious about enforcing your legal rights. That’s not to say you should stop speaking to her—if she’s acting out so extremely that she’s calling the police over being made to wash her dishes (!), then I think you have grounds for serious concern and should consider making her an appointment with a therapist. It’s a shame that your ex isn’t backing you up, but it might be worth trying to have a conversation with her about your concerns, and to make it clear that you’re worried about your daughter, and that you’re not capriciously punishing her, but trying to look out for her best interests.

Q. Re: Dye job: I would not ask your wife to do this. I’m also 30 and now officially in the “salt and pepper” phase of my hair, and while I can laugh about it, I would feel weird if my wife asked me to dye it to make it look younger. I am sure the letter writer has undergone changes with age that the letter writer cannot control that would be hurtful if letter writer’s wife brought them up.

A: I’m getting a lot of letters to the effect that it’s better not to ask, especially since your wife used to dye her hair. She’s probably acutely aware of how expensive and labor-intensive the process is, and has decided it’s no longer worth doing.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

Saigon Summer Nights

by Tamarind Tree @ Tamarind Tree Restaurant

Pick a night, Monday through Sunday. Relax and sample the flavors of Saigon during out cocktail reception on the patio. Seven distinctive finger-foods mingled with seven celebrated martinis.

The Best Cookbooks to Give

The Best Cookbooks to Give

by Ashlea Halpern @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening (is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?), but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that college student, or golf-loving parent, or Star Wars fanatic in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or, at least, a very helpful starting point. For our latest installment, we asked a dozen prominent cookbook authors to tell us the cookbook they’d be most excited to get this holiday season. Below, the tomes (that cover everything from Cuban to Turkish to Thai to bread) that will appease the most discerning gourmands on your list. (For more giftable books we like, click here.)

“If someone gave me Kris Yenbamroong’s Night+Market cookbook, he or she would know me too well. I’ve been a fan of Kris’s since 2011, when I met him at a food event where he was serving small, housemade Thai sausages with whole bird’s-eye chiles and raw ginger. His boldness impressed me as much as his Thai-American-Angeleno story. He’s Thai-food royalty in Los Angeles, but that has been a plus and minus for his career. Young chefs like Kris are paving their own culinary paths while dealing with stereotypes that come from many directions. Kris succeeds because he’s generous, humble, soulful, and smart. His food is gutsy and fun, yet respectful. I’ve had so many chile-related endorphin rushes from eating at his restaurants and learning about the complex and vibrant foods of Thailand, all the while being surrounded by the sights and sounds of Los Angeles. I’ve lived in Northern California for nearly 20 years, but restaurants and chefs like him are why I still love L.A.! ” —Andrea Nguyen, author of The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles

Night+Market: Delicious Thai Food to Facilitate Drinking and Fun-Having Amongst Friends by Kris Yenbamroong
$22, Amazon

“Every time I visit my friend Andy Ricker in Portland, Oregon, we go to Kachka. The last time we ate there, we were also joined by chef David Thompson, who insisted we have a vodka competition. High jinks ensued! The Kachka style of eating is to me the perfect vibe: bold, vibrant flavors; serious attention to detail, but in a non-fussy setting; and based around the idea of sharing food and drink with friends and loved ones. I have never been to Russia, but if it’s anything like Kachka, sign me up.” —Kris Yenbamroong, chef-owner of the Night+Market restaurants in California and author of Night+Market: Delicious Thai Food to Facilitate Drinking and Fun-Having Amongst Friends

Kachka: A Return to Russian Cooking by Bonnie Frumkin Morales
$27, Amazon

“This book intrigues me for several reasons. Chef Sean Sherman’s cookbook shares recipes that are a part of our country’s native cuisine and history, one that ironically is relatively undiscovered and seldom written about. His book offers a firsthand perspective on indigenous food traditions and ingredients specific to his tribe of Oglala Lakota, located on the plains of the Midwest. I admire Sherman’s dedication to continually learning, educating others, and innovating on native cuisine before it is lost to us.” —Chitra Agrawal, chef-owner of Brooklyn Delhi and author of Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes From Bangalore to Brooklyn

The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman with Beth Dooley
$23, Amazon

“While this isn’t a traditional cookbook, I definitely want a copy of The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael Twitty, under my Christmas tree. I can’t imagine a more important historical culinary book coming out this year than this. Southern food is such a crucial element of our culinary landscape in America, and understanding its rich history will better inform my recipe development and love of my culture and cooking all the way around.” —Jocelyn Delk Adams, author of Grandbaby Cakes: Modern Recipes, Vintage Charm, Soulful Memories

The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African-American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael Twitty
$19, Amazon

“And of course, shameless plug, Feed the Resistance is the top cookbook gift I am giving this year. Contributing a recipe to this book by Julia Turshen was such an incredible experience. The forging of political activism and food is genius.” —Jocelyn Delk Adams

Feed the Resistance: Recipes + Ideas for Getting Involved by Julia Turshen
$10, Amazon

“Since I help write cookbooks and spend an enormous amount of time making sure recipes work, I probably shouldn’t admit that I rarely cook more than a recipe or two from the cookbooks I own. I do love reading recipes, though. And because I’m not cooking much, I especially love books and recipes that tell a story, especially about food linked to a place and culture. For years and years, I’ve been obsessively consuming Eating Asia, a blog (can I still call websites blogs?) by Robyn Eckhardt and her photographer husband, David Hagerman. A few years ago, she got obsessed with Turkey and spent years working on this cookbook. It’s one of those books that reminds you how much you don’t know about the world. I want!” —J.J. Goode, cookbook co-author of The Drinking Food of Thailand with Andy Ricker and State Bird Provisions: A Cookbook with Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski

Istanbul and Beyond: Exploring the Diverse Cuisines of Turkey by Robyn Eckhardt
$24, Amazon

“I’m a carb enthusiast and love eating bread (no fear here!), but the act of baking it has always intimidated me. Alexandra Stafford’s book, Bread Toast Crumbs, promises to put cooks like myself at ease with approachable recipes for no-knead peasant bread and ways to work it into every meal. Yes, please! I’d like to be able to get my groove on churning out loaves and have the house smell like a boulangerie while I’m at it. I’m hopeful this book will help build my confidence in the baking department. Rise up!” —Colu Henry, author of Back Pocket Pasta: Inspired Dinners to Cook on the Fly

Bread Toast Crumbs: Recipes for No-Knead Loaves & Meals to Savor Every Slice by Alexandra Stafford
$20, Amazon

“I’ve never been to Cuba, so I’ve always been curious about what the cuisine is like when you’re actually there. I know things are changing fast, but there’s still so much mystery, which is why I’ve been wanting to get my hands on Anya von Bremzen’s new book. Getting on the ground is exciting enough, but also gaining kitchen-door access to paladares, the privately owned restaurants that must navigate both the government and a crazy black market to survive, seems like a cheat code. It’s like discovering a secret passageway inside a secret passageway.” —Drew Lazor, co-author of New German Cooking: Recipes for Classics Revisited  and author of the forthcoming Session Cocktails: Low-Alcohol Drinks for Any Occasion

Paladares: Recipes Inspired by the Private Restaurants of Cuba by Anya von Bremzen
$25, Amazon

“I’d be delighted to receive a copy of David Tanis Market Cooking. David was one of the chefs who taught me to cook at Chez Panisse. Anytime I’m stuck in a rut, the first thing I do is refer back to my teachers and their teachers for ideas and inspiration. It’s sort of like being back in the kitchen with them. David is a genius with vegetables, always adding a little unexpected twist, a little something special. It’s been a long time since I cooked with David, but reading and cooking from his books never fails to make me feel like I’m right back in the kitchen alongside him.” —Samin Nosrat, EAT columnist at The New York Times Magazine and author of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking

David Tanis Market Cooking: Recipes and Revelations, Ingredient by Ingredient by David Tanis
$23, Amazon

“I’m really looking forward to The Palestinian Table by Reem Kassis. When it comes to cooking at home, I love to make things that fill in the gaps of our local restaurant scene, especially if it means working with recipes that let me take advantage of what Kentucky farmers do best (I think that includes the best lamb and poultry around, along with our fantastic dairy and produce). As a baker, I’m especially excited to tackle the section on regional breads and pastries.” —Stella Parks, senior editor at Serious Eats and author of BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts

The Palestinian Table by Reem Kassis
$25, Amazon

“I love cookbooks that you can truly cook from—that are both inspiring but attainable. Downtime: Deliciousness at Home by Nadine Levy Redzepi (wife of renowned Noma chef René Redzepi) is a compilation of simple foods that are elevated with a bit of style and restaurant cooking. I am intrigued and would love to curl up with this one.” —Karen Mordechai, author of Simple Fare and Sunday Suppers: Recipes + Gatherings

Downtime: Deliciousness at Home by Nadine Levy Redzepi
$23, Amazon

“It’s been a real year for cookbooks, so this was an extremely hard choice. You’re all great! That said, I find myself really poring over books written on subjects I know the least about, and to say I know nothing about the food of Georgia or Azerbaijan (or beyond) would be a huge understatement. But, from the little I can gather, the food features lots of herbs, savory pies, and meaty vegetables drizzled with a thing called matsoni (maybe a new replacement for yogurt). Very much my speed. I’m excited to dive into Kaukasis and figure out what plov is, and then maybe even learn to make it.” —Alison Roman, author of Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes

Kaukasis: A Culinary Journey Through Georgia, Azerbaijan & Beyond by Olia Hercules
$19, Amazon

“I would love to receive Salvador Dalí’s Les Dîners de Gala. My father found an early edition of this incredible art/cookbook in a rare bookstore when I was a kid, and I have tried to steal it from him ever since (he has it on lockdown). It was just rereleased, and I covet it. It’s a Surrealist fantasy of a rolling dinner party, where the food is sculptural, abundant, and absurd. Cookbooks are always full of fantasy, but so rarely does an author own it as much as Dalí does here. Want to throw a dinner party? Just put together a seafood tower of giant lobsters and crawfish that levitate above the table! Voilà!” —Julia Sherman, author of blog turned book, Salad for President: A Cookbook Inspired by Artists

Dalí: Les Dîners de Gala by Salvador Dalí
$39, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

The Un-Pho-Gettable Origins of Vietnams Signature Dish

by Emma Nguyen @ I Love Pho

Every country has a special dish that they can be really proud, of something that reflects their cultural roots, for Japan it’s Sushi, USA has burgers or Chicken Waffles, Australia has Lamingtons, Meat Pies and for Vietnam that dish is Pho. What’s great about good food is that it can be universally satisfying regardless of...

The post The Un-Pho-Gettable Origins of Vietnams Signature Dish appeared first on I Love Pho.

The Best Gifts for Music Lovers

The Best Gifts for Music Lovers

by Lori Keong @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening—is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?—but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that hard-core traveler, beauty junkie, or new mom in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or at least a very helpful starting point. For our latest installment, we asked 10 music lovers about the tiny noise-canceling headphones, covetable new records, and music books they want this year.

“This might be too obvious, but it’s true: For the past few years, I’ve asked for whatever new Kendrick Lamar album is out, on vinyl. I would like DAMN. this year, please. I can’t imagine a more foolproof gift for the young music lover in your life.” —Jenn Pelly, associate reviews editor at Pitchfork and author of The Raincoats’ The Raincoats

DAMN. Vinyl Record
$27, Amazon

“I want someone to get me Lizzy Goodman’s book Meet Me in the Bathroom. I’ve had an inside joke with myself ever since it came out, because everyone was like, ‘Have you read it yet? Have you read it yet?’ and I kept saying, ‘No, I’m going to wait for someone to buy it for me’ because it’s the most ‘me’ present ever. My bosses are quoted in the book, and it’s all about Interpol and the Strokes and all these bands that I love, and a scene that I care about. And I’ve bought it for a ton of my friends, and I think it’s funny that I haven’t read it yet. I’m just waiting for it to fall in my lap.” —Shira Knishkowy, music publicist at Matador Records

Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City
$18, Amazon

“One thing I always want for Christmas but never get is the 69 Love Songs album by the Magnetic Fields. I’ve never bought it for myself because I can never justify spending $100 on a box set for myself, but I keep hoping that I’ll someday get it for Christmas. It’s a pretty large accomplishment to make this sprawling album of 69 different styles and genres, with the one through line being that they’re all love songs. I think it’s the best indie-rock album of the ’90s, one of the best albums ever made actually, and I would love it on vinyl.” —Philip Cosores, deputy music editor at Uproxx

69 Love Songs Box Set
$85, Amazon

“This is on my ‘to read’ list. I love everything Murakami does, and this especially looks great. The first book of Murakami’s that drew me in was What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, meditations on running and life, wrapped in a memoir. Before devoting his life to writing, he ran a jazz bar in Tokyo, and the influence of music runs through his novels. Here in Absolutely on Music, he’s in conversation with his friend and conductor, Seiji Ozawa, of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. I’m no runner, nor particular fan of classical music, but I’ll happily go on this excursion with him.” —Karl Henkell, editor-in-chief of Record

Absolutely on Music: Conversations
$19, Amazon

“This pocket operator is made by Teenage Engineering and comes in many forms. I already have the PO-12, which is a drum machine, but would love to expand my collection. The PO-14 is a great bass-line synthesizer with a sequencer and much more. What’s great about the pocket operators is, you can chain them together and sync them up to play music.” —Demo Taped, musician and producer

Teenage Engineering Sub Bass Synthesizer
$50, Amazon

“Brian Eno recently remastered a bunch of his solo records, the ones that are more pop-leaning. And they’re mastered at half-speed, so you play them at 45 rpm instead of 33 rpm, which is better for audio. They’re all records that I’ve wanted to own for a while and haven’t been able to track down a good copy. They don’t sell it in my local record shop, but they released Taking Tiger Mountain and Another Green World (which is one of my favorite records of all time), and I would love to get my hands on those.” —Caroline Marchildon, music publicist at Secretly Group

Taking Tiger Mountain LP
$31, Amazon

“This book is a collection of solutions for when you are stuck creatively. It offers different approaches to making music and finding inspiration. I think it would be a very useful tool to any producer. Feeling stuck happens to every artist at some point no matter the medium. This book would be a great way to get the ball rolling creatively.” —Demo Taped

Making Music: 74 Creative Strategies for Electronic Music Producers E-book
$10, Amazon

“I don’t have a Bluetooth speaker, so this is something that I’ve been wanting for a minute, but I was kind of overwhelmed by the choices. I feel like it’s such a convenient thing to have, even at home if you’re hanging out in the kitchen, for parties, or even for travel. I found one from Bang & Olufsen that’s not that expensive. It’s oval-shaped, it’s a really nice color, and is a nice, sleek size, so you could easily stow it away if you wanted. I feel like some of them are bulky or don’t look that great, but this one is a pretty reasonable price and it looks really nice.” —Caroline Marchildon

B&O Play Portable Bluetooth Speaker
$132, Amazon

“I wear these at every show we play and every show I attend. They’re perfect for a music lover who would like to continue listening to music for a long time.” —Lucy Dacus, musician

Pro 17 Hearing Protection
$185, Amazon

“This is an awesome, futuristic voice-controlled speaker, so it’s kind of like Alexa mixed with a speaker, which I really like. Instead of using a remote, it’s easier to just communicate with it. And Sonos is a really good product, so I’m excited to use it.” —Ilana Kaplan, freelance music writer and editor

Sonos One: The Smart Speaker for Music Lovers
$199, Amazon

“I used to have a pair of Bose headphones that an ex-boyfriend bought me, and they were amazing because I travel all the time. I’m on planes every other week, and they come in a really nice case that I can leave in my purse so I don’t forget them, and they don’t get lost or tangled in my bag. But then, of course, I did lose them about a year ago, and I’ve been missing them ever since. They’re so amazing: They’re really small and comfortable, but the sound quality’s amazing.” —Shira Knishkowy

Bose Quiet Comfort Acoustic Noise-Canceling Headphones
$249, Amazon

“After having kids, I’ve had to get rid of my sprawling turntable setup and record collection. This turntable stand centralizes all the gear plus record storage into a neatly organized space with a minimal footprint. It prevents the hobby from taking over your life.” —Peter Hahn, co-founder of Turntable Lab

Line Phono Turntable Station
$499, Amazon

“Ableton is one of our favorite DAWs (digital audio workstations) because of its user-friendly flow. The capabilities are endless with sound-engineering, and it’s also perfect to use on the go. Because we are traveling so much and always on airplanes, this DAW allows us to pull ideas from our head and build out demos super fast while we’re on the go.” —Trevor Dahl, Kevin Ford, and Matthew Russell of electronic music trio Cheat Codes

Ableton Live 9-Suite Multi-Track Audio
$639, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Remembering the Christmas bombing of Hanoi

Remembering the Christmas bombing of Hanoi


BBC News

The biggest ever bombing campaign by US B-52 bombers took place over Christmas 40 years ago, when the US dropped 20,000 tonnes of explosives on North Vietnam.

Pho 83

Pho 83


Pho 83

Authentic and delicious Vietnamese food for dine-in or take-out!

Skip the Pho, Order These Eight Vietnamese Dishes Instead

Skip the Pho, Order These Eight Vietnamese Dishes Instead


Houston Press

I get asked all the time about where to find the best Vietnamese food in Houston. How do I pick just one place? As of the 2010 Census, Houston is home to over 35,000 Vietnamese Americans, making it the fourth largest Vietnamese community in the country. A quick Yelp search...

Speak Now

Speak Now

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week by signing up in the box below. Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

Got a burning question for Prudie? She’ll be online here on Slate to chat with readers each Monday at noon. Submit your questions and comments here before or during the live discussion.

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I’m in a six-month relationship with an amazing guy. He’s kind, generous, funny, and supportive, and we click on all levels. He treats me better than any man who ever said he loved me—but he’s not ready to say it yet. I’ve said it already, and I don’t regret saying it because I know I mean it. He says he feels the same thing I do but isn’t ready to call it love—he wants to wait until we’re further down the line toward commitment before saying it. His only other relationship lasted for six years and ended badly, so he’s very cautious this time around. He also wants to wait until he knows where his job will be and where he’ll be living.

I know this is something you can’t force, but it’s really bothering me. I have absolutely no complaints about how he treats me. That’s why I want to tell him I love him practically all the time! But I have to hold back because I know not hearing it back will hurt. I also don’t understand why outside factors like where he’ll be living would influence how he feels about me in the first place. How do I process this and not fixate on it but allow myself to be happy with someone who clearly cares deeply about me, even if he can’t say the same words I do? And is there a time limit by which he should say it? I’m just so worried he’ll never say it at all.
—Three Little Words

This is such an individual thing that I’m almost reluctant to give you any advice more specific than “Do what you think is right for you.” Your boyfriend has made it clear that he’s not ready to say he loves you and he’s given you a number of reasons for that decision. Whether or not you think those reasons make sense, whether or not his decision can work for you, whether or not there’s a point at which you would need to hear “I love you” in return in order to continue your relationship, those are questions that only you can answer. There’s no one-size-fits-all time limit, no date by which all boyfriends have to say, “I love you,” or become loveless monsters.

I can say a few things with relative authority. I think your best way forward is to share your fears with your boyfriend. I think that “having no complaints” about how he treats you is not necessarily a reason to stay in a relationship if you decide it’s not working for you. I think that his previous romantic relationship may provide useful context for where he’s coming from but is ultimately irrelevant to how the two of you relate to one another. If you think it’s odd that he’s willing to say he all-but-loves you unless and until he gets a job lined up, then I don’t think you should try to convince yourself to stop “fixating” on it. I think you should pay attention to your own feelings, which matter every bit as much as his. That doesn’t mean you have to offer him an ultimatum tomorrow, but don’t spend too much time trying to convince yourself that it’s silly to care about hearing “I love you” in response. It matters to you. That’s important, and you should be honest about it, and see whether the two of you can work through this together. If you can’t, it doesn’t mean you threw away a good relationship for frivolous reasons.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I own a rental house down the street from my own residence. I rent it a bit below market with the understanding that tenants will be “easy.” The current tenants (a couple and their 8-year old) have been generally OK, if not the best I’ve ever had. However, I’ve recently heard from a few neighbors that “Tommy” is a terror at school and has bullied several neighborhood kids. They’ve hinted that I might do our local elementary school a favor if I didn’t renew their lease. (I am within my rights to do so; it ends in May, and I would give 60 days’ notice.) There are very few rentals in the local elementary school catchment area, so “Tommy” would likely end up at a different school next year were his family to move. My neighbors are nice people, and I doubt they are exaggerating—and they have always been welcoming to my tenants in the past. Any advice on how to handle this?
—Playground-Tenant Dispute

You have an opportunity here to not get involved in someone else’s parenting challenges, and I suggest you take it. If Tommy is causing problems at school with someone else’s children, then it’s up to the school and Tommy’s parents to address it. As long as Tommy’s parents are living up to their half of the rental agreement, there’s no reason for you to evict them based on secondhand information that their kid is a bully. Even if Tommy is in need of serious discipline, he’s also 8 years old.
Not to mention the fact that simply sending him to another school would do nothing to address his behavior! This is a situation that calls for some classic, old-fashioned butting out.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
About two years ago my parents separated and are now divorced. They both had affairs, and my dad left my mother for the woman he had an affair with. We’re still working on blending the families, but two of my siblings, one in particular, have refused to accept my dad’s fiancée. My brother has said that he will not budge until they break up. My dad says that he’s done appeasing my brother and has to stand up for his relationship. I’m worried that he’s about to torpedo his relationship with my brother, but I can hardly expect him to end his engagement. My brother steadfastly refused to go to my dad’s for Christmas and continues to reject any of my dad’s attempts to get them in the same room together. I don’t know how to talk to either of them anymore. How do I help keep my family from falling completely to pieces?
—Family Breakup

I know this isn’t the answer you were hoping to hear, and I know you’ve already had to deal with a lot of destabilizing new developments over the last couple of years, but your first and most important task is to resign from the job of “person responsible for keeping the family together.” Your family is still your family even if your parents get divorced, even if your brother and your father keep fighting, even if your brother and your father stop speaking to one another. I imagine that lately it feels like everything is out of your control and that your family is disintegrating, but as long as you make yourself responsible for keeping everyone together, you’re going to drive yourself crazy—not to mention set yourself up for failure.

Encourage your brother and your father to talk to one another, then let the subject drop. After that: Talk to your brother about any subject that isn’t your father. Talk to your father about any subject that isn’t your brother. Remind yourself, whenever the little anxiety engine in the back of your mind that whispers, “This family is dissolving into pieces and if you don’t do something right now, we’ll never be able to be a family again” starts to fire up again, that you cannot manage your father’s and your brother’s relationship for them, and that you will be OK no matter what happens between them.

Dear Prudence LIVE in San Francisco! See Mallory Ortberg and special guests on Jan. 25.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I grew up in far-from-privileged circumstances, but I typically got what I wanted, particularly away from home. Maybe I just had a way with the adults in my life, but I considered myself a hard worker who demonstrated persistence and determination. Yet, now that I’m a sophomore in college, I’ve been forced to reckon with the fact that my peers—who, in this setting, have more influence—aren’t as easily persuaded by my own persistent efforts to achieve a goal. Over the past year and a half, there have been a number of setbacks where I’ve felt powerless to alter the outcome, which I’m not used to. Could you give some advice on how a college student could adjust to this change and leverage it for future success?
—How to Adjust to Not Getting Your Way?

I think it’s probably worth developing a more nuanced attitude to failure for its own sake, not merely because you think it might result in future success. Part of the college experience—part of being a young adult regardless of whether you go to college or not—has to do with experiencing failures and setbacks, sometimes for the first time without familial aid. They’re often surprising, they’re generally unlooked-for, and they usually hurt. That’s not to say that you have to resign yourself to every failure that comes your way, or that there’s no value in persistence and determination—simply that figuring out how to deal with disappointments is an important component of becoming a well-rounded adult. I can’t promise you that learning to lose gracefully will ultimately become part of a strategy for future success. Silicon Valley promulgates a belief in eternally transformative failure, that every single failure brings one closer to a more thoroughly optimized outcome, and I don’t think that’s true. On any given day, in any given circumstance, there will be a number of things that are totally outside your control, and any number of outcomes you will be absolutely powerless to alter. Failure is inevitable, and therefore it’s important to figure out how to respond to each individual failure with relative equanimity—whether that leads to a later success or not. You can be a persistent, determined person, a hard worker, and any number of other positive attributes and still fail; it’s not a reckoning on your individual worth. Consider these current failures as good training for the rest of your life.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I have reconnected on social media with a former girlfriend, and she has become a very close friend. We dated briefly in our early 20s. It was an intense relationship that fell apart because we were both young and immature. I am now a middle-aged, divorced single dad; she is happily married with two daughters and lives several states away. The chemistry between us is unmistakable. She even came back to my area (alone) several months ago to visit family, and she invited me out for dinner and mentioned that her husband was in poor health. The remark about her husband’s health was only in passing. We didn’t have a whole conversation about that. But as you can tell, I put a whole lot of meaning into it. I can tell she has feelings for me. How strong, I don’t know, but she clearly loves her husband and their kids.

I am absolutely smitten with her. I think about her every day. We talk on social media maybe once a week or so. I don’t want to break up her family or even sow any hint of trouble there, so I haven’t told her how I feel. On the other hand, it is hard to think seriously of anyone else romantically—just in case something happens in her husband’s life. And I feel like total shit for even thinking that. If I break off contact with her, I lose a good friend. And how do I do that? And what do I say to our mutual friends? I know I am in a destructive pattern, but I don’t know what to do.
—Can’t Extinguish Old Flame

This is the sort of thinking that can quickly spiral out of control in a closed environment like the inside of your own head. The next time you find yourself obsessing over your ex, I think it might be helpful to counter some of your fantasies with reality.

Fantasy: She mentioned that her husband’s health isn’t great! Maybe he’s going to die soon, and the two of us can get back together, and I’ll be 22 again.

Reality: My ex clearly loves her husband and her kids. I know that she’s happily married. I will never be 22 again. I am middle-aged and divorced and have to deal with the complicated feelings that engenders within me. We had dinner once a few months ago. Now we talk about once a week and there seems to be some sort of charge between us that, while pleasant, does not incline her to express a wish to leave her family to be with me. The fact that I think about her every day has more to do with me than it does with her.

You don’t have to say anything to your mutual friends, because there’s nothing going on, aside from a rekindled friendship that may or may not carry a slightly flirtatious vibe. (I’m inclined to take your claim that you “can tell” she has feelings for you with a grain of salt, not because I don’t think she likes you, but because you’re clearly bringing a lot more intensity to the table than she is.) I get where you’re coming from! This is a woman you have an intense, albeit brief, romantic history with, who’s re-entered your life during a time when you’ve been feeling a little adrift, and you’ve been reminded of all the reasons you connected with her in the first place. But if you’re having trouble putting her out of your mind to such an extent that you’re not able to go on dates or focus on your own life, then I recommend you see a counselor and spend some time figuring out why you’re so fixated on this ex in particular. That’s a healthier and more productive strategy than hoping your ex’s husband dies in the next year or two, then feeling guilty about it.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I recently decided to try a little light bondage with my boyfriend of just over a year. I stripped down, put on a blindfold, and let him tie me to the bed. Then I waited. And waited. Finally, I pushed off the blindfold (it was very light bondage!) and saw that I was all alone. I found him in the living room and asked what was wrong. He said nothing was wrong—he just wanted to see how long I would lie there. I called him a jerk, and we got into an argument. He said it was just a joke and that I should lighten up, but I’m still angry. Am I making too big a deal out of this?
—Unbound in New York

That move goes in the Bad (Ex-)Boyfriend Hall of Fame. The fact that he wants to call it a joke doesn’t mean you don’t get to feel angry and hurt about it, or ask him why he decided to make a joke out of your sex life or why he thought it would be funny to leave you alone, confused, bound, and vulnerable. Calling something “just a joke” is not the get-out-of-jail-free card some people think it is. The fact that he hasn’t apologized and doesn’t seem especially interested in how it made you feel says a lot about what you can expect from him in the future.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

More Dear Prudence

Net Neutered: Prudie counsels a couple who don’t allow their guests to access Facebook while staying in their vacation home.

Singular Assault: Prudie advises a letter writer who was once sexually assaulted by their current partner.

Due Date: My roommate’s jobless sister can’t keep sleeping on the couch after her baby is born.

Very Suggestive Texts: Prudie counsels a letter writer who is trying to protect her marriage after acting on a crush at a company holiday party.

In Love With a Truther: Prudie advises a letter writer who’s dating “a really great guy” who happens to think 9/11 was an inside job.

Fear in the Family: I’m afraid of my teenage stepson.

Not an Act: Prudie advises a letter writer who constantly gets questioned about her disability.

Indelibly Om: Prudie counsels a letter writer who regrets getting a tattoo she now regards as culturally insensitive.

A Very Vietnamese Christmas

A Very Vietnamese Christmas


Simon Stanley, Writer

Simon Stanley unwraps the tropical festive spirit, of a very Vietnamese Christmas. Photos by Vinh Dao. Despite being home to a relatively small Catholic community, with the majority of the remainde…

9 Places to Chow Down on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - Because entertaining at home is so unnecessary

by diningoutadmin @ DiningOut Denver/Boulder

Our secret to a stress-free holiday? Pigging out with your closest loved ones and enjoying round after round of libations. ...

The post 9 Places to Chow Down on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day appeared first on DiningOut Denver/Boulder.

Experts Reveal What Makes for a Happier Holiday. Hint: It’s Not More Stuff.

Experts Reveal What Makes for a Happier Holiday. Hint: It’s Not More Stuff.

by Brigid Schulte @ Slate Articles

The holidays, it can seem, are all about time and money: Spending too much money. Never having enough time. All of which can cause so much stress and unhappiness that the American Psychological Association has actually set up an online Holiday Stress Resource Center to help us cope.

It doesn’t take a survey to know that most people want to be happy and not stressed out at the holidays. We look forward to heightened feelings of happiness, love, high spirits and connectedness. But we so often get caught up in all the extra work it takes to create all that good cheer that Christmas and the winter holidays instead can come to feel like a dreaded, gigantic to-do list. Tree? Check. Lights that work? Run to the store. Cards? Ordered, stamped, and mailed. Gifts?

I knew I was in need of a serious holiday attitude adjustment when my neighbor came over with a freshly baked plate of cookies. My first instinct, I’m ashamed to say, rather than gratitude for this selfless and delicious gift, was annoyance. I’d have to reciprocate, dang it. Like Santa, it was just one more thing to put on the list.

So I turned to a couple of happiness experts, Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia, and Ashley Whillans, an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School, who specialize in studying the choices we make around time, money, and drudge work.

Here are their five top strategies that social science research suggests will help us all have a happier holiday:

1. Be in the moment: We live in an era of intense time pressure, when most people feel there simply isn’t enough time in their lives and stress is at an all-time high. That can make us feel out of control and always behind, and unhappy, especially at the holidays. So give some thought to how you really want to spend your time.

Dunn makes it a practice to think about what will make the time she spends over the holidays most enjoyable and enable her to be fully present. Not surprisingly, she said, happiness research shows that when we can be present in the moment, we enjoy it more. “If you’re doing one thing and thinking about another, that undermines your ability to reap enjoyment in whatever you’re doing,” Dunn said.

So she made some decisions that, to an economist, may seem irrational, but make perfect sense to a happiness researcher. She has a flexible schedule, so she was thinking she and her husband and son could visit her family in San Francisco in early December, when the flights are dramatically cheaper. But while that makes more economic sense, she knew she’d also be juggling and worrying about work, like writing final exams and grading papers, which would be distracting and make the time feel more stressful. “So we’ll spend a little more money going over Christmas, but that will help me get more enjoyment out of the experience.”

2. Prioritize quality time: Guided by the research that, when it comes to happiness, time matters more than money, when Whillans took her new job at Harvard, she and her husband decided to pay more in rent so she could walk to work, rather than pay less and have a big, time-sucking commute. They consciously chose to spend more money to buy themselves more time.

Whillans takes the same approach to the holidays. She and her husband have a no-gift rule. They instead try to spend time with each other over the holidays. “We give ourselves the gift of uninterrupted time. We focus on prioritizing time with each other, rather than what we’re going to give to each other.”

And as for using your time for meaningful things rather than cooking, cleaning, and all the exhausting work it can take to create holiday magic? If you can afford it, buy your way out of the drudge work you dread, they said. If you can’t, share the load, or do less of it.

Dunn and Whillans recently published research that found that people are happier when they use money to buy their way out of drudgery. In one of their studies, they gave people $40 and had one group buy stuff, and another group buy their way out of unenjoyable chores with cleaning, lawn or errand services, or take-out food. That opened up the possibility of spending time differently.

People reported feeling more in control of their time, Whillans said, and less overwhelmed by their daily lives. So taking a page from their own research, Dunn, who doesn’t love wrapping presents, prioritizes shopping at stores that do the wrapping for her, even if it costs a bit more.

3. Buy experiences, not things: Other happiness researchers have found that spending money on positive experiences, rather than stuff, makes us happier and increases our sense of well-being. And, Whillans said, both the anticipation of the experience and savoring the memory of it afterward can extend those feelings of happiness.

In their study, people who bought their way out of drudge work and had more time, tended to choose to spend it with family and friends and socialized more and enjoyed their time more. That certainly reinforces research that found people who focus on family and spirituality at the holidays are happier than those who are wrapped up in spending money and getting gifts.

4. Maximize the impact of your generosity: “We see in our research that giving promotes happiness to the extent that you can really see, understand, or envision the benefit it will have to the people you’re giving to,” Dunn said. “If I get my dad some random cuff links, I know it’s not going to change anything about his life. The same thing applies to a lot of charitable giving. We just don't get much of an emotional return on it if it’s too diffuse, or if we don’t know how would make a difference.”

So this year, after running around all day in the rain buying Christmas presents and feeling mildly irritated with the world, Dunn came home and donated to an organization that helps pay for operations to repair clubfoot. “I know, if I give this gift, a kid on the other side of the world will have a totally different life,” she said. “The more you can understand the generosity of your gift, the better you’re going to feel. It was a nice way to end the day.”

5. Less is more: Sometimes, what makes us unhappy, especially around the holidays, is simply the too muchness of it all: too much food and drink, too much to do, too much to buy, too many holiday parties at the same time. All of that can add to an intensified sense of time pressure, stress, and unhappiness. So think about doing less. “People are bad at making goals around subtraction,” Whillans said. “We fail to think about removing experiences from our lives as a path to greater happiness.”

Prioritize the kinds of experiences you really want to have. Think about what’s necessary, and drop the expectation that everything must be perfect. “Figure out what to not do,” Dunn said. Go to one fewer party or event. Say no. Focus less on consumption and more on positive experiences, or helping others, Whillans said. “Those are things we know are better for happiness.”

And maybe find time to do a little something nice for your cookie-baking neighbor, not because it’s just one more thing to cross off your to-do list, or because the research shows doing something nice for someone else really does make us happy, but because this is what a truly joyful holiday season is all about.

Top 5 Children Activities in Saigon, Vietnam!

by fred wilson @ Back of the Bike Tours

We’re quite proud to say that we had our tours customers aged from 1 to 95 years old, and they all enjoyed it! Though parents are often quite scared to let their children on a motorbike in busy Saigon, we believe that is also a...

How Clueless Straight White Guys Excuse Religious Homophobia

How Clueless Straight White Guys Excuse Religious Homophobia

by Nathaniel Frank @ Slate Articles

Why does it seem that, every time a national debate erupts about the place of minorities in American life, a gaggle of Straight White Guys with little connection to or understanding of these minorities holds forth on how they should or shouldn’t resolve their grievance about unequal treatment? This week’s version came in response to Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Division, the Supreme Court case of Jack Phillips, a Christian baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins. Phillips is seeking a license to discriminate based on artistic and religious freedom.

This week’s featured culprits: David Brooks writing in the New York Times, and George Will and political scientist Greg Weiner in the Washington Post. Each of their pieces made some reasonable points. But each betrayed a galling inability or unwillingness to truly consider what it might feel like to be a disfavored minority in modern America—to enter a store and be stamped for rejection based on a stigma you’ve already endured your entire life. In other words, they refused to let empathy shape their thinking.

If you write, opine, make policy or rulings or otherwise hold power over others, you can’t do your job well if you don’t practice empathy. This appeal to empathy is not a plea for powerful men to feel sorry for minorities; it’s about creating the moral habits of mind that involve putting yourself in others’ shoes so you can better understand the many sides of an issue that disproportionately affects people who aren’t you. If decent white men should have learned anything from the Trump election, Charlottesville, the police killings of unarmed black men, and the nationwide sexual harassment scandal, it’s that we have a special responsibility to better learn and practice empathy so we can make more informed decisions and wreak less havoc across the world.

With that in mind, I present five arguments advanced by Clueless Straight White Guys about religious-based anti-LGBTQ discrimination and explain why they’re clueless:

Argument No. 1: It’s just cake; buy it somewhere else.

Brooks: “It’s just a cake. It’s not like they were being denied a home or a job, or a wedding. A cake looks good in magazines, but it’s not an important thing in a marriage.”

Will: “Denver has many bakers who, not having Phillips’s scruples, would have unhesitatingly supplied the cake they desired.”

Weiner: “The most obvious option is for a couple to obtain their wedding cake from a baker who is happy to supply it and from whom they are pleased to purchase it. Masterpiece Cakeshop is outside Denver. The supply of bakers there is ample. Common sense—or common courtesy—provides supple tools to resolve the dispute.”

Why it’s clueless:

It’s really the essence of cluelessness to assume the rest of the world resembles the urban or suburban bubble you may inhabit. For millions of people, the next nearest vendor could be hours away, and many people have day jobs and family obligations that are more restrictive than penning columns from a Brooklyn brownstone (as I’m doing now).

Even more important, “go elsewhere” entirely misses the point of this case. The feeling seems to be that if a major material hardship is not at issue, LGBTQ people should just suck it up and not fuss about such ethereal things as seeking dignity and avoiding the humiliation of exclusion from the public realm. As I’ve argued, full access to both commercial accommodations and marital recognition is a basic matter of equal dignity. For black Americans, standing a few feet further back on an Alabama bus was, yes, a material hardship for toiling housecleaners and waitresses on their feet all day; but just as important, it was an affront to dignity and it was deemed, quite properly, a constitutional affront.

As Justice Anthony Kennedy asked this week in oral arguments, wouldn’t a sign announcing no “cakes for gay weddings” be an affront to gay people? Whether that sign is actually hung or not, knowing that’s a store’s policy would be badly wounding, as reams of research on the harms of discrimination show. This case is about equality, not shopping.

Argument No. 2: It’s not like we’re condoning something as bad as racial discrimination.

Brooks: “There are clearly many cases in which the legal course is the right response (Brown v. Board of Education). But the legal course has some disadvantages…”

Weiner: “There is a substantial difference between sincere religious objections to same-sex marriage and bogus objections to laws against racial discrimination. Most people can make that distinction intuitively.”

Why it’s clueless:

This is a fundamental failure of understanding history—itself a failure of empathy because history requires putting yourself in the worlds of others. The argument here is that when religion was used to justify slavery and racial discrimination in the past, those people were obviously being disingenuous. But today’s use of religion to defend other forms of prejudice is, just as obviously, sincere.

But the Christian explanations for segregation really were deeply felt. And the Supreme Court has repeatedly thrown this rationale out. In 1968, it ruled that a South Carolina barbecue chain could not refuse service to black Americans even though the owner claimed doing so “contravenes the will of God.” In the 1980s, Bob Jones University lost tax exemption because it barred students in interracial relationships—despite claims that it was acting on biblical prohibitions. The trial judge in the case that later outlawed bans on interracial marriage declared in his decision that “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents … The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

These judges stated or conceded that the religious beliefs propping up racism were sincere. Fortunately, that didn’t hold up in court as a justification for segregation. Meanwhile, religious justifications for racial segregation are hardly a thing of the past, but have been bubbling up again for decades and have broken into the open as part of Donald Trump’s ennobling of white nationalism. Think the violent alt-right protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, will decline to invoke every last religious exemption a court might hand them?

Clueless Straight White Guys seem to feel at the end of the day that, while racism is bad, homophobia really just isn’t that awful and so religious conservatives should just get a pass.

Argument No. 3: It would have been so much kinder if the gays had just been neighborly and courteous about all this, even though the baker wasn’t. The gay couple acted like nasty bullies (while also being whiny, litigious victims).

Brooks: “The complex art of neighborliness is our best way forward. … The neighborly course would have been to use this situation as a community-building moment. … The legal course … was to take the problem out of the neighborhood and throw it into the court system. … This is modern America, so of course Craig and Mullins took the legal route [which is one reason] why we have such a polarized, angry and bitter society…”

Will: “Craig and Mullins, who have caused [the baker] serious financial loss and emotional distress, might be feeling virtuous for having done so. But siccing the government on him was nasty … Craig and Mullins, who sought his punishment, have behaved abominably … Their side’s sweeping victory in the struggle over gay rights has been decisive, and now less bullying and more magnanimity from the victors would be seemly.”

Weiner: “The object of the case is not to secure Masterpiece Cakeshop’s services. It is to dragoon its owner, Jack C. Phillips, into compliance with their views.”

Why it’s clueless:

Really? The gays behaved “abominably”? Dragging out the actual word the Bible uses to condemn gays as disgusting threats to civilization? Will berates a gay couple for having the audacity to ask the government to enforce the law, and derides them as essentially fetishizing their own rights. This can only be said by someone who has never had to defend his rights against those who would repeatedly trample them. I’ve no doubt it’s annoying for Will to hear black, brown, female, gay, and trans people always clamoring for their rights; imagine for a minute what it feels like for them.

Telling minorities who have suffered a history of discrimination that it’s unneighborly, unseemly, or discourteous to fight for rights that they’re being denied but you’re enjoying is shameless—ultimately just another mechanism for denying those rights in the first place. Do you actually think the minority members love always having to be the loudmouths reminding the world that they deserve the same rights as you already have? And to the extent that some activists become almost permanently wedded to the “angry activist” position, can you really blame them?

Finally, Brooks and Will have their facts wrong about the case, and their mistaken assumptions suggest a clear bias against minorities, whom they seem to view as inveterate whiners. The gay couple is not guilty of “siccing the government” on the baker, and they were not the ones who threw this issue into the courts or “took the legal route” and polarized the nation. Colorado law bans anti-gay discrimination in public accommodations. What the gay couple did was file an administrative complaint after Phillips violated this law. The state ordered Phillips to comply with the law, and he refused, asserting a First Amendment right to ignore it. And the Alliance Defending Freedom, the conservative Christian group representing Phillips that spends $50 million a year on anti-LGBTQ and other religious exemptions lawsuits, is the one who has filed court cases all across the nation over this issue. Where’s the outrage directed at them?

Argument No. 4: Be patient and let the political process of persuasion and compromise run its course; the courts are the wrong place to go when your rights aren’t being protected, and it will only spur backlash.

Brooks: “The tide of opinion is quickly swinging in favor of gay marriage. Its advocates have every cause to feel confident, patient and secure … [Going to court] inevitably generates angry reactions and populist uprisings. … It takes what could be a conversation and turns it into a confrontation. It is dehumanizing. It ends persuasion and relies on the threat of state coercion.”

Weiner: “The court [is] too blunt an instrument for resolving many conflicts of rights … Left to the political process—or even better, to informal mechanisms of society—the conflict almost certainly could be resolved without forcing a choice between anti-discrimination laws and religious freedom … [The baker can] be made to deliver a cake, but that outcome would almost surely set the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights movement back by stoking resentment from its opponents. That is exactly what happened in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when court rulings sparked a wave of state constitutional amendments defining marriage heterosexually.”

Why it’s clueless:

Has anyone else noticed how well the “political process” has been functioning lately, particularly with protecting the rights of vulnerable minorities? And are Clueless Straight White Guys aware of the tens of millions being spent by conservative religious groups pushing hundreds of state bills and lawsuits seeking to undercut the reality of marriage equality and other gains toward LGBTQ equality?

Here’s the thing about patiently waiting for your rights to be handed to you and sparing the courts the need to do their job. It’s certainly correct that court fights alone can bring Pyrrhic victories when not accompanied by a broad base of public support. But political persuasion almost always works in tandem with courts—which are, after all, an equal branch of democratic governance. “Let the people decide” is the rallying cry of those enabling tyranny of the majority, secure in the knowledge that “the people” will not make the hard but just decisions that a court might.

The political process did not secure marriage equality; the courts did. And the brilliance of the LGBTQ movement, as those who aren’t clueless about LGBTQ history and the long struggle for marriage will tell you, was that its advocates did engage in persuasion, conversation, and appeals to the public—for decades. One result was that Colorado passed a duly enacted law through its democratically elected legislature banning anti-gay discrimination in public accommodations. This was the political process playing out, the product of years of compromise and persuasion. And that effort involved using lawsuits as a means to get the nation thinking and talking about their right to equality—as we’re doing right now around this lawsuit.

It also meant using courts to secure rights when, for too long, politics refused to deliver them. Only a few states legalized marriage through voter ballots or legislatures, and only after courts got the ball rolling. When “left to the political process,” most states passed laws barring same-sex marriage instead. Yes, pushing for LGBTQ equality in court spurred backlash, as Weiner notes. But it then generated a public dialogue around empathy and equality, and swept full marriage equality into being nationwide—including places like Alabama. If going to court for racial equality was the right course, it’s also the right course here.

Argument No. 5: The baker is only asking that his sincere religious beliefs and artistic freedom be respected; he is not harming anyone.

Brooks: “Phillips is a Christian and believes that the Bible teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman. Phillips is not trying to restrict gay marriage or gay rights; he’s simply asking not to be forced to take part.”

Will: “To make his vocation compatible with his convictions and Colorado law, Phillips has stopped making wedding cakes, which was his principal pleasure and 40 percent of his business… Phillips’s obedience to his religious convictions neither expressed animus toward [the gay couple] nor injured them nor seriously inconvenienced them.”

Why it’s clueless:

The prevalence and harms of discrimination are not abstractions, but have been extensively documented, including in this amicus brief signed by three dozens scholars. You could just spend some time speaking with LGBTQ people who have faced it, and you’d know this.

Most people seem to take Phillips at his word that, as a Christian, his opposition to participating in a same-sex marriage is a “sincere belief.” At first blush, this sounds reasonable, since we can’t get into his head. Yet while Phillips may experience his beliefs as sincere, it’s simultaneously possible—indeed likely—that bias and even animus are really at play. Consider this consistency test: The Bible clearly teaches not only that marriage is for straights, but that it’s for life and that divorce is a sin equivalent to adultery. Yet no one has sued for the right to refuse service to customers on their second or third marriage. Will accepts Phillips’ claim of religious belief on faith, as if the baker’s only choice is to stop selling his beloved wedding cakes entirely. But if that’s true, he would have made the same fuss over mounds of other Biblical transgressions. Courts can’t look into the minds of the parties to a case. But there is enough evidence that bias, often unconscious, is the overwhelming factor in anti-gay discrimination to take claims of religious sincerity with a grain of salt.

Even if we take religious-based anti-LGBTQ sentiment as sincere, there’s no question that refusing service to minorities causes harm. And where the wish to harm others by imposing your religion on them collides with the state’s interest in ensuring the dignity of access to public accommodations, the courts have already sided with the latter. The free exercise of religion, a federal court concluded, is “subject to regulation when religious acts require accommodation to a society.” The Constitution, said the Supreme Court in 1973, “places no value on discrimination,” and it “has never been accorded affirmative constitutional protections.” At the end of the day, two values are colliding: The freedom (religious-based or otherwise) to discriminate and the freedom to fully belong to the public. The public gets a say in which one prevails.

A final, neighborly note:

If you are a Clueless Straight White Guy, you are still lovable! You still deserve to be listened to. I am not arguing that only people directly affected by an issue have a right to speak about it. But you have a special obligation not to spew forth without doing your homework: Take the time to put yourself in others’ shoes; reach out to people who are differently situated than you and learn about their experience; open your own heart and mind before you tell others how to do same. Empathy is a job—and for those of us who have enjoyed a life of unearned privilege, it just got harder.

A Peas Offering for the Dairy Aisle: Can This Milk Alternative Rival the Real Deal?

A Peas Offering for the Dairy Aisle: Can This Milk Alternative Rival the Real Deal?

by NPR Food @ Bay Area Bites

Yellow-pea milk might sound odd, but the founders of Ripple Foods think their protein-rich dairy alternatives could give cow's milk a run for its money and open the door to more plant-based products.

Aussie vs Vietnamese Christmas..are they similar? - I Love Pho

Aussie vs Vietnamese Christmas..are they similar? - I Love Pho


I Love Pho

Have you always had Turkey, Ham and Buche de Noel for Christmas? This festive season, be brave to refresh your taste with our Vietnamese Christmas menu. It has all the Christmas menu’s components of: Quail & Chicken instead of Turkey, Crispy pork instead of Ham, and fresh Prawn salad with Green papaya to replace the fresh...

The Best Exercise Bikes

The Best Exercise Bikes

by Maxine Builder @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

To find the very best products that no human being would have the time to try, look to the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star ratings and lots of ’em) products and choose the most convincing. You’ll find the best crowdsourced ideas whether you’re searching for comforters, bed sheets, or even Christmas trees. Below, the best exercise bikes determined by the hard-nosed reviewers on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

Best Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike, Overall

4.2 stars, 2,274 reviews
“I love going to spin classes, but don’t have the ability to attend when classes are scheduled because of work and family. I bought this bike to add to my great gym in my basement—and I love it. It’s solid, heavyweight metal; the 40-pound flywheel and construction provide the right amount of tension and stability to do any kind of workout you wish—standing on the pedals with heavy tension or fast pedaling with light resistance. This bike was easy to assemble—took less than 15 minutes … Great purchase!”

Sunny Health & Fitness Pro Indoor Cycling Bike
$254, Amazon

Best Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike Less Than $150

4.2 stars, 113 reviews
“I started working out at home, so I decided to buy several things that would work and not take a lot of space. I went back and forth with deciding to buy this bike because I knew it would be a big purchase, and if it didn’t happen to work, I didn’t want to deal with the return and headache. Well, no need to return. It has been one of my favorite fitness-related purchases—aside from the Bosu Ball. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE and definitely recommended to anyone who wants to get in shape and get a good cardiovascular and leg workout … It is big enough to feel comfortable, and steady and small enough to fit it nearly anywhere. I live in NYC and the apartments here aren’t huge, and it is perfect. The bike is also very beautiful, so it does not look bad if you just leave it out. The seat is comfortable, so I don’t think I would be buying cushions for it … So, in conclusion, if you’re thinking about buying it, definitely do so. It is 100 percent worthy and fantastic.”

Pro Gear 100S Exercise Bike/Indoor Training Cycle
$132, Amazon

Best Upright Exercise Bike

4.3 stars, 126 reviews
“I have been a ‘gym rat’ for decades and work out five [or] six times per week. I have used the best commercial upright bikes out there. This one, to my surprise, is every bit as good and even better than most of the commercial bikes you find in gyms. The seat is extraordinarily comfortable—the most comfortable of any stationary bike I have ridden. The programs are easy to use, and the pedaling and resistance are extremely smooth and fluid. I ride on level 20 (highest level is 25) for 40 minutes, and it is no problem for the machine at all. I get my heart rate going at the high rate I like for the duration of my workout. The heart-rate monitor sometimes gives erroneous readings, but I find that is the case on the best commercial machines as well. I put this bike together in 30 minutes by myself. A really outstanding piece of workout equipment!”

Nautilus U616 Upright Bike
$349, Amazon

Best Folding Upright Exercise Bike, Overall

4.4 stars, 4,882 reviews
“I really wanted an exercise machine I could use at home for the days I don’t make it to the gym (which, I’ll admit, is most days). However, I also have a small apartment with limited floor and storage space. I love that this bike fits snugly against the wall when not in use without sacrificing comfort or sturdiness (even with my big booty) in order to be compact.

Bikes are not usually my go-to exercise equipment because they give me a sore butt and crotch when I push myself, and sometimes, even when I don’t. However, this bike doesn’t feel the same to use as a regular bike or the standard exercise bike you would find at the gym. The pedals are further forward and the seat is wider, and I actually find it to be more comfortable. I am still able to get my heart rate up and work my legs just as well as other bikes while sitting fully back on the seat. I have not noticed any aches or pains indicating the positioning is problematic, but I have noticed considerably less pain caused by the seat than I usually experience using exercise bikes.

It is quiet, smooth, tracks everything I want to track, has appropriate resistance, and still works great six months later. I am very happy with my purchase!”

Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike With Pulse
$130, Amazon

Best Folding Upright Exercise Bike With 400-Pound Weight Capacity

4.3 stars, 505 reviews
“I’ve had this for about two weeks now. It has been wonderful and convenient! I needed some lower-impact cardio exercise to incorporate into my regime (jogging was taking its toll on my knees and ankles), and I am so glad I came across this. The seat takes some getting used to, but it supports my six-foot, 320-pound self in my journey to weight loss. The reviews are somewhat correct about the resistance levels being a little weak. I have pretty strong legs (from lugging around this weight most of my life) and levels four to seven work just fine for me. I only, however, use this machine for moderate exercise in 20- to 40-minute periods. The setup is very easy. Took me about 30 minutes to do alone, and all the necessary equipment is included. Highly recommended.”

Exerpeutic Gold 500 XLS Foldable Upright Bike, 400 Lbs
$165, Amazon

Best Folding Upright Exercise Bike Less Than $100

4.5 stars, 116 reviews
“I can’t believe what a good product this is, especially for the price! The ride is comfortable, smooth and quiet. It barely makes any noise at all. It is much more comfortable, smooth, and quiet than the expensive models I use at my gym and at physical therapy. You would be able to use this in front of the TV without disturbing anyone else in the room … I only weigh 125 pounds, but it is big enough to feel sturdy [and] small enough to fold up to put away and save space. I am very happy with this purchase.”

ProGear Foldable Magnetic Upright Bike
$85, Amazon

Best Upright Exercise Bike With Fan-Resistance

4.1 stars, 496 reviews
“This bike is a BEAST. It’s really heavy and structurally sound, and definitely gives a full-body workout. The adjustable seat makes it comfortable for taller people—both my five-eight self and six-one-or-so boyfriend have no problem, but it might be a bit of a reach (literally) for shorter folks. Since it’s so substantial, it really kicks your ass when you’re first getting used to it, but the hard work pays off: Between diet and using this bike regularly, I’ve lost almost 40 pounds and my boyfriend has lost around 50. I absolutely love this bike and would definitely recommend it!”

Schwinn AD6 Airdyne Exercise Bike
$500, Amazon

Best Recumbent Exercise Bike

4.1 stars, 4,797 reviews
“I’ve been using this bike for about two years, and I absolutely love it. I turn on the television and watch a movie or play video games and the time flies by! I honestly forget I’m riding it sometimes, though that depends how good the movie or video game is! I have to get up every 30 minutes to stretch and give my buttocks a break, but it’s a very comfortable seat overall. I keep a pillow stashed between the seat and backrest for even more comfort. When I started, I was 400 pounds, so there’s no weight limit that I’m aware of. Easy to assemble, and you can adjust the tension from one to eight to make your workout easier or harder. Plus, the legs rotate forward or backward, so you can ride in any direction you please. It also allows you to adjust the length from the seat to the pedals, so if you’re short or tall, you can adjust it to fit your needs … The unit is magnetic, so it’s very quiet—can’t hear a thing when you’re riding. The digital screen tracks time elapsed, calories burned, distance traveled, and current speed; you can set it to rotate between these display options or set it to stick to a single option (for instance, if you only want to see time elapsed). I haven’t replaced the batteries yet (I think they’re two AA), so they seem to last forever … I lost 60 pounds over the course of a few months doing no other exercise other than riding this recumbent bike in my room. Yeah, it’s THAT good. Great exercise bike that’s well worth the price!”

Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike With Resistance ME-709
$122, Amazon

Best Folding Recumbent Exercise Bike

4.4 stars, 2,400 reviews
“This is perhaps the nicest gift I’ve ever treated myself to. My ideal piece of exercise equipment would have been a treadmill (I LOVE TO RUN), but it simply wasn’t an option—they cost too much, take up too much space and require a lot of maintenance. This handy-dandy little exercise bike, however, takes up very little space and is quite affordable (compared to, say, my old gym membership or a treadmill) … Love the tension control—I can definitely break a sweat on this bike and get a good burn in my legs. Computer function is nice, but I don’t buy that I burn nearly as many calories as it claims I do. The heart-rate monitor was surprisingly accurate for me (I have my own heart-rate monitor I use on runs to compare it to), and I like that I can see how long I’ve been working out for—in reality, though, I almost never pay attention to the display … Very happy with this bike, love the space-saving design, and I find it to be a very comfortable, ‘semi-recumbent’-style bike.”

Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike
$97, Amazon

Best Upright Exercise Bike With Desk

4.2 stars, 1,443 reviews
“I haven’t been this delighted with a product in a long time. As a college professor, I can’t avoid sedentary evenings. Or rather, I couldn’t. That all changed last week when I assembled this bike and begin clocking 20 miles per day while doing a few hours of research. The design is ingenious—I especially like the drawer for my phone, as well as the strap securing my laptop … It took just under two hours to assemble, and I agree with the other reviewers that a ratchet set is handy if you have it, but not essential. You should also tighten the bolts once a week or so, which isn’t hard. As for usability, you’re not going to want to spend a full day on this, but you won’t have to. I find that reading, emailing, note-taking, web-surfing, and movies work best on the Fitdesk; intensive writing might be better saved for a desk on which you don’t have to expend a few brain waves to keep the pedals moving. That said, if you pedal at light resistance, you’ll barely be aware that you’re doing it, and I do think the process keeps me more alert, even if it divides my attention a hair. I don’t know how these guys keep the prices so low, and they even donate some of the desks [to] schools! I’ll check back in if I have troubles with it down the road, but if I get a year out of this, it will have paid itself off many times. I don’t use the phrase ‘life-changing’ lightly, but it just may fit here.”

FitDesk Desk Exercise Bike With Message Bar
$265, Amazon

Best Recumbent Exercise Bike With Desk

4.2 stars, 381 reviews
“I love this bike! I am able to type on my MacBook Pro (15-inch) without any shaking or discomfort. I set the tension to about six (out of eight) and end up getting a pretty good workout while also getting my work done. This bike is really changing my sedentary work lifestyle; I recommend it to anyone who wants to stay active throughout the day. Easy to put together and fold and store. I’m really surprised by how awesome this bike is—wish I could have it at work, too!”

Exerpeutic Workfit 1000 Desk Station Folding Semi-Recumbent Exercise Bike
$200, Amazon

Best Under-Desk Exercise Bike, Overall

4.7 stars, 1,716 reviews
“I LOVE this exerciser! I have a typical desk job and used to struggle to fit exercise into busy work days and even busier evenings with family commitments. I now exercise an average of 1.5 hours a day—riding 25 to 35 miles—while I’m working. I tend to use it while I’m on calls and don’t have to do heavy typing. It’s low, but still would not allow me to pedal under my keyboard tray, so I have it under another part of my desk where it works just fine while I’m on the phone. The machine is heavy, well-made, and virtually silent. My workspace is carpeted and I have a rolling chair, but I find that on tension-setting three I’m still able to pedal without the chair moving much, and haven’t had to use the included strap. I use my abdominals to help hold the chair in place for added exercise benefits. Also, I’m a fidgeter, and a surprise bonus of this machine is that the pedaling takes care of my need to fidget, so my concentration and focus on work is actually greater while I pedal. Who knew? … Overall, it’s a life changer! I highly recommend this gizmo for people with sedentary jobs.”

DeskCycle Desk Exercise Bike Pedal Exerciser, White
$159, Amazon

Best Under-Desk Exercise Bike Less Than $100

4.3 stars, 630 reviews
“I seriously wish I found this five years ago. I am pretty active but work a lot, sitting at a desk 10 hours a day at a pretty stressful job. My legs get achy from sitting; I just feel lethargic and have gained a couple pounds I’m not happy about over the last couple years … Long story short—this is a life changer. I received it over the weekend, it’s super easy to assemble, and did a quick trial run watching TV. It’s a very smooth ride, and completely SILENT, which is perfect for the office. First day taking it to work, I biked 13 miles throughout the day—AT MY DESK … I feel more energized and not like a worthless sloth sitting all day. As far as resistance goes, there are adjustable settings, so you can go as light or heavy as you want, digital monitor showing calories and distance, and it’s small enough to fit right under your desk. I am using the fourth out of eight on the difficulty level, and it’s just enough to not get super sweaty at work, but still get a good work out. I have zero complaints and can’t wait to get back in shape!”

Sunny Health & Fitness SF-B0418 Magnetic Mini Exercise Bike, Gray
$101, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

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Vietnamese Food - What to Eat in Vietnam


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Indochine, authentic Thai dining in Wilmington, NC. Encore's Best Asian and Best Atmosphere for 15 years! Enjoy the exquisite dining room or outdoor garden.

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Due Date

Due Date

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com.
(Questions may be edited.)

Got a burning question for Prudie? She’ll be online here on Slate to chat with readers Wednesday at noon. Submit your questions and comments here before or during the live discussion.

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I own my house but have roommates to help pay the bills. I haven’t had any problems with this arrangement and most of my roommates are old friends. Right now “Billy” has been letting his little sister, “Katy,” stay in our living room after she lost her job and apartment. Katy’s a good kid, and I don’t mind her sleeping on the sofa for a month or so until she gets back on her feet. Recently I learned that Katy is pregnant and plans on keeping the child. Since finding out, I haven’t really said anything to Katy and Billy because I don’t know how to tell them that I don’t want to have a newborn in the house. This is a line I am not willing to cross.

Katy is not on the lease and Billy only rents month to month. I know I can legally give them notice, but I don’t want to do that if I don’t have to. How do I toe the line of being helpful while also saying, Please get out of my home?
—No Kids

Right now, if you keep on with your strategy of not saying anything, you’re eventually going to put yourself in a situation where you have no other option besides serving Katy, and possibly Billy, with an eviction notice. The more advance warning and clarity you can offer Katy, the better off she’ll be in the long run. In general, it’s better for everyone involved to be clear about deadlines before inviting them to sleep on your couch “until they get back on their feet,” mostly because “until someone gets back on their feet” can take anywhere from a few weeks to, you know, forever. You don’t have to bring her pregnancy into it, because you haven’t formalized your living arrangement and it sounds like it was already understood that her staying with you was temporary from the start. Figure out how much time you’re willing to let Katy continue to spend on your couch (30 days, 45, 60, whatever) and let her know that’s her move-out date, and let her make her own arrangements. But you do have to say something now, because the longer you wait, the more Katy and Billy are likely to make unfounded assumptions about the length of her stay.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
How do you nicely turn someone down? I recently met a co-worker’s friend at a party who is apparently interested in me. She gave her number to my co-worker to pass on to me. People rarely hit on me, so I’m not used to turning down advances, but I’m not interested. Normally I think I could sort this out, but I have to worry about my co-worker asking constantly if I’ve contacted her yet and telling me how we’d be good together because we like the same stuff. I don’t want to disrupt our professional relationship.
—Just Not Interested

You definitely don’t have to contact your co-worker’s friend. You never asked for her number and didn’t offer her yours. All you have to say to your co-worker is, “Thanks for the offer, but I’m not interested in Iphigenia, so I’m not going to call her.” Lots of people like the same things, but that doesn’t mean there’s a mutual romantic connection. Hopefully your co-worker is just a little overzealous, if well-meaning. (Although it’s hard to imagine why they’d want their friend to go out with someone who had to be talked into the idea rather than someone who was genuinely excited, without prompting, to ask her out.) If they continue to press, just say, “I didn’t feel a romantic connection, and I’d appreciate it if you dropped the subject.” You’re not the one who’s disrupting your professional relationship, so you should feel no qualms about being polite but firm.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I have been dating “Sam” for three years. We both were theater kids and the odd one out in our rather conservative families. Now Sam has come out as trans and I feel overwhelmed. I want to be supportive. I want to be a good girlfriend. But I feel like I am drowning. Sam has transitioned and our love life is nonexistent.

I can’t take comfort in our social circle because they are behind Sam all the way. I tried once and got rejected brutally. There is no way I can confide in my family. If I break up now, I am afraid I am going to lose Sam and every one of my friends, because they will peg me as a bigot. On every level we click, but not sexually anymore. What do I do?
—Not a Lesbian

Ending a romantic relationship over incompatible sexual orientation does not make you a bad person, nor transphobic, nor unsupportive. You can love Sam, affirm their transition, and break up with them. Being there for Sam does not mean staying in a romantic relationship indefinitely. I’m so sorry that your friends have made you feel as if you have done something wrong by being honest about your own sexuality. If you’re in need of confidential support, try a local PFLAG meeting or contacting the Straight Spouses Network. (You don’t have to be married or planning on staying together in order to talk to someone or find an online support group.) It is possible for you to end your romantic relationship with Sam kindly and respectfully, while leaving the door open for a continued friendship. Whether Sam takes you up on that right away, or the two of you decide you need to take a little space after your breakup, please know that you are not doing anything wrong. Neither of you are!

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I am in my mid-40s and have a good job. I’m dating “Emily,” a single mother with one grown son and two teenagers. My wife died unexpectedly soon after we got married and I found myself responsible for her 13-year-old daughter, “Taylor.” Her biological father was dead and no one else was able to take her in. I adopted Taylor and raised her the best I could until she went off to college. She is a smart, funny, wonderful girl. I am very proud of her and want the best for her, but I don’t have the instinctive love of a parent. I took care of Taylor because it was my duty and there was no else to step up. Taylor calls me dad and I see her for holidays. I don’t ever want to be in the position of having to parent again. Taylor was a good kid and easy to raise, but I still resented being a father more often than not. I have never breathed a word of this to anyone.

I see Emily right now on the weekends and sometimes after work. We get along on every level, and I might even love her, but I do not want to be a stepdad again. Marriage is off the table for me. How do I tell Emily this? I know her kids are going to grow up and leave in the next few years, but her kids are not Taylor and consistently get into minor trouble or need Emily to bail them out. I couldn’t deal with them well.
—Not a Dad Again

It sounds like you know your own desires and limitations pretty well. It’s incumbent upon you, therefore, to communicate them clearly and effectively to your girlfriend so that she can make her own decisions. If you know you don’t want to get married, and that you’re not prepared to act as a stepparent in any way, then you should tell her so. Maybe Emily is perfectly happy with your current arrangement and will agree to keep seeing you on the weekends while keeping her family life separate. Maybe she’s looking for something more serious, and you two will break up. Either outcome is vastly preferable to keeping this to yourself and eventually getting roped into getting more involved in the lives of children you have no interest in getting to know better.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I had an affair with a lovely woman for more than four years. This was the greatest experience of my life. She is incredibly smart, affable, beautiful, and mature. We started off as friends—best friends. Our personalities matched almost perfectly; we had similar tastes and connected at a level that neither of us had experienced with someone else. Yet last year, I messed up and gradually drove her away from me. I take full responsibility for that. Because of the age difference between us, I wanted her to feel free to go and explore. I did not want to constrain her options as she was blossoming. The geographical distance did not help either.

Here’s my problem: I want my best friend back. As avid introverts, it is already incredibly difficult to find a friend, let alone a best friend. I am rueing the chain of events that led to this every single day without exception. It’s been over a year. I respect her decision to not go back to what it was between us, but can’t we be best friends again? She has declined to talk to me multiple times in the past year, and I don’t have the courage to ask again. I cannot seem to find closure on this. I want to laugh over Trump’s impulsiveness, discuss populism, and explore ’80s music again.
—Return to Me

No, you cannot be best friends with someone who doesn’t want to talk to you. Not even if you really, really miss them, not even if you’re both introverts, not even if you both dislike Trump, not even if you’re very sorry you hurt them, not even if you both like music from the 1980s. The most important criteria for whether two people are best friends is this: Do both parties want to be best friends? If the answer isn’t unanimous, then the answer is no. It’s not a question of “courage” when it comes to repeatedly contacting this woman to try to get her to change her mind. It’s a question of respect. She’s made it extremely clear that she does not want to be friends again, and if you really want to take “full responsibility” for having driven her away, then you need to accept that she’s gone away and deal with your feelings of regret and loss on your own, and let them inspire you to treat other friends differently in the future.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
My husband and I are friends with a couple who never reciprocate lunch and dinner invites. We see them every week when they come over for “family lunch.” We cook and they bring a purchased dessert, which is all fine, but they never help with the cleaning up. Sometimes the woman will come talk to me while I’m washing dishes, but it never occurs to her to get a tea towel and help dry. These people are like family; they’re not just friends we see occasionally.

They were just at our house for Christmas, and we provided a full holiday meal. We spent a lot of time making the table beautiful, cooking and serving multiple dishes, providing alcohol, and clearing the table. They brought a store-bought meringue and berries for dessert, then kept enjoying the food and conversation while we spent half an hour cleaning pots and pans. Never once did they get up and offer to help. They just sat there like it was a restaurant. Even after we had finished clearing up, they continued on to the living space, lingering for another 45 minutes, oblivious to our exhaustion and need to get some rest. This was Christmas Day, after all.

I was so angry after they left. My husband said, “Never again!” I wouldn’t mind if they reciprocated with a meal at their house, but they never do. She says he doesn’t like to have people around because their house is small. But to me that is a cop-out. And it’s not like we can say, “Hey, isn’t it your turn to have us for dinner?” Do I just suck it up and accept them for who they are? Or am I justified in being angry at their selfishness and laziness, and I should raise it with them? Unfortunately I know she would be offended.
—Never Heard of a Tea Towel

I’d be frustrated too if I had friends who never once thought to offer to help clean up after a meal I’d prepared, but I’m astonished that not once have either you or your husband said, Hey, can you give me a hand with these dishes? to friends you see every week and consider a part of your family. You don’t have to stand upon ceremony with friends you’ve been close with for years. If they don’t offer to help tidy up the kitchen after you’ve fed them, ask for their help: “Here, dry these plates while I soak the pans.” “Would you help bring some of the glasses into the kitchen?” “We’re not feeling up to hosting next weekend. Would you like to host, or would you rather meet at a restaurant?” “Guys, thank you so much for coming over. We’re absolutely wiped out, so we’re going to turn in. Can I help you grab your coats?” Nothing prevented you from saying those things, and had you said them you might have spared yourself years of pent-up resentment. But there’s also nothing to stop you from saying them now, so do yourself a favor and get started.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

More Dear Prudence

Very Suggestive Texts: Prudie counsels a letter writer who is trying to protect her marriage after acting on a crush at a company holiday party.

In Love With a Truther: Prudie advises a letter writer who’s dating “a really great guy” who happens to think 9/11 was an inside job.

Not an Act: Prudie advises a letter writer who constantly gets questioned about her disability.

Indelibly Om: Prudie counsels a letter writer who regrets getting a tattoo she now regards as culturally insensitive.

Different Strokes: I don’t like the guest my friend has chosen to bring to my party. (She’s poor.)

Toy Story: Prudie advises a letter writer who is considering legal action after her mother gave away a prized doll collection.

Relationship Unmoored: Prudie counsels a letter writer who is bothered by her boyfriend’s refusal to condemn (former) Senate candidate Roy Moore.

Friendly Ghost: Why is my pal blowing me off?

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Not an Act

Not an Act

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Q. Not faking it: I am currently disabled. I’ve worked my way up to being up and about for an hour to two each day. Whenever I go out, people say the oddest things to me. Today, when I parked my car, a man came up and said suspiciously, “You don’t look disabled.” I said I just had surgery and rushed away. This happens almost any time I use my handicapped tag. Friends will tell me that I don’t look sick, or that I look great, and then take it personally when I say that I can’t go out for long or go to events. One of my best friends today asked if I had just tried increasing my pain tolerance. I never know how to respond, and knowing that these interactions are coming makes me anxious about leaving my apartment. What can I say to strangers who confront me about my disability, and to friends who don’t get it?

A: This will hopefully serve as a reminder to all readers that not every disability is immediately visible, and that it’s not the job of the general public to monitor people with handicapped placards for signs that they “really” need them. You don’t owe strangers a damn thing, much less an explanation, and I’m so sorry that so many people have taken it upon themselves to demand one of you. Feel enormously free to ignore them.

Getting this sort of treatment from your friends seems so much more painful. I cannot imagine why your friend would say something as amazingly stupid as, “Have you tried just feeling less pain?” That’s worth revisiting, especially since you say this person is one of your best friends. This is not something you can simply decide to ignore, and your friend should apologize for suggesting you just “get over” something like chronic pain. I hope there are people in your life who understand that you are dealing with a new reality, and who are looking for ways to demonstrate their care and support, rather than demand when you’re going to “get better.”

Q. How do I know if I want children?: I’m in my mid-20s and have been in a relationship with an amazing guy for a little over a year. He’s kind-hearted, funny, understanding, and just all-around great.

The one area where I see any potential conflict for our future is family planning: He doesn’t want any children, and I’m not sure. Most times, I find children noisy, annoying, and a financial and time burden. When I think of myself having children, it seems exhausting and terribly annoying, something that would prevent me from going ahead in life and living fully. But occasionally—generally when I see a cute baby or a well-behaved child—I feel almost a bit of a craving to hold one of my own in my arms, and think that I’d rather like to have a couple in the next 10 years.

How do I unpack my feelings, and know what I want? I love my boyfriend and want to build a future with him, but I’m scared that five or 10 years down the line I’ll suddenly want children and it’ll destroy our relationship.

A: I wish so much that I could promise you that there will come a day, sooner or later, when you will “know what you want” without reservation or doubt, but I can’t. You can spend more time searching your own feelings, you can come to a more thorough understanding of your desires and fears, you can even make decisions based on the strength of your self-knowledge, but you may very well feel unsure (or even change your mind) about any decision you make. There is likely a lovely, happy, meaningful version of your life where you do have children. There is likely a lovely, happy, meaningful version of your life where you don’t. Ask yourself the question independently of your boyfriend’s wishes. That’s not to say that your circumstances can’t or shouldn’t ever influence your decisions, but you need to answer for yourself what your feelings are about having children, not simply what your feelings are after taking his feelings into account first.

If someday you do decide you want to have children and your boyfriend doesn’t, it will not have “destroyed” your relationship—the end of that romantic relationship will be absolutely necessary for the two of you.

Q. Mother’s insensitivity: I have bipolar disorder and OCD. I live with my elderly mother and, for the most part, we get along well. My issue is that my mother is grossly insensitive to my need for her to not touch my food. She is not good about washing her hands after various personal activities. Last week, she started picking things off of my half of a pizza with her fingers, and I asked her to not touch my food for the umpteenth time. She claimed angrily, not for the first time, that I “play out the OCD thing to an extreme” on purpose. I do not, and I’ve worked hard to keep my OCD from being a problem for others.

How can I get my mother to grasp the fact that when anyone touches my food I am unable to eat that food? I do a great deal of work for her in this house, and I don’t think that it is too much to ask that she understand and accept my needs.

A: Tell her, “I’m not ‘playing out the OCD thing.’ I have OCD, which affects my life on a regular basis regardless of how much I might wish it didn’t. I’ve asked you not to touch my food, and you refuse to stop. It’s a simple request, but if you can’t honor it, then I won’t be able to eat with you.” If your mother attempts to do anything but stop touching your food—if she tries to turn this into an argument, if she tries to convince you that it’s fine for her to do this, if she tries to insist that she “just can’t remember” that you don’t want her putting her hands on your food, then simply say, “I’ve asked you not to do this. I’m going to go now,” and eat elsewhere. Either she’ll learn to do better, or you’ll eat more meals without her; either way, you do not have to put up with this rudeness, not even from your mother.

If any readers have particular experience trying to set boundaries with parents they live with, especially while dealing with a mental health diagnosis, please feel free to share anything that’s worked for you.

Q. Is there ever a point in asking “what happened?” about a romance that never was?: In the summer I’ll be visiting the country where I went to university. One of the friends I’ll be seeing is a guy with whom I had a rather flirty but platonic relationship. We really clicked and I liked him, but never made a move because he’d implied in passing that he was gay and/or asexual (I’m a woman). We had one encounter in summer 2016 where he was more flirty (verbally and physically) than usual, which I enjoyed and reciprocated, but the next time we met, he seemed to have lost romantic interest. I felt embarrassed and stopped contacting him, though we started to interact sporadically on Twitter months later. We’ve been in touch since I moved and it’s been flirting-free. When we meet, is there any point asking him about his change of heart, or should I let it go?

A: You can ask, I suppose, but it sounds like you already know the answer—he’s gay and/or asexual, and at some point he decided to change his behavior from “flirtatious” to merely “friendly.” You don’t say he grew cold or distant, merely that your interactions lost a certain potentially romantic charge, and that you pulled back as a result. The fact that you two have been reconnecting on friendly terms over the last few months seems like a very clear sign that he likes you as a friend and doesn’t want to reignite his old flirtatious behavior. I think your best next move is to be friendly in return, accept that your respective orientations are incompatible, and look for someone else to click with romantically.

Q. Not looking for a sister-in-law: I’m in my mid-20s and so is my boyfriend of about a year and a half. His sister just moved to our city to begin to college. At first I was excited to get to know her better, but now we see her every weekend. I don’t love hanging out with someone whose life is in such a different stage of mine so frequently and I feel like I have gained a sister-in-law I was not ready for. Is there a gentle way to bring up to my boyfriend that I don’t enjoy seeing his sister every weekend?

A: Yes, of course! “I like your sister, and I’m glad you two are so close, but I don’t want to spend every weekend with her. Next weekend, I’m going to [see a movie with friends/go dancing/check out a bookstore]. Do you want to come with me?”

Q. Disgraced professor: My son is in high school and has been being tutored by a college math associate professor for the past six months. My son has made fantastic progress and has overcome years of failing math grades.

The problem is that this professor was just fired for sexual harassment at his college. It was a big enough deal to make the local paper and everyone has backed away from him. He has been ejected from his other leadership positions in town and is now seen as a pariah. (The level of harassment was Louis C.K.-level, not Weinstein.)

I want to continue the tutoring as long as possible. I am concerned about the message my son gets in this, but at the same time, this tutoring is the only thing that has ever worked for my son in math. He has taken a child who may have not graduated high school and put him on track for college. What should I do?

A: Oh, I can think of a number of things you can do. Ask yourself, what sort of message will I be sending my high school–aged son about the seriousness of sexual harassment and assault if I encourage him to continue working with this man? How do I feel about myself when I say, “This man who was fired for sexual harassment ‘only’ did things like forcibly keep someone from leaving the room while he masturbated in front of them?” Do you feel honorable? Do you feel proud to pass this sort of mindset on to your child? Do you think your son’s math grade is worth this sort of compromise, this moral haziness, this minimization, this couching? Do you truly think there is no other tutor in your area who can help your son with his studies? Have you truly exhausted all of your other options? Have you even explored a single alternative, or have you already decided what you’re going to do, and are merely looking for reassurance that you can continue with this tutoring and think of yourself as a good person?

What on earth do you mean when you say you want this tutoring to continue for “as long as possible”? Do you mean until you get what you want—your son’s acceptance to a good college, at which point you’ll feel free to end the relationship? Do you mean until other people start asking you why you’re still working with this man as if nothing has happened?

I’m afraid at this point I’ve asked you more questions than you have asked me. My best advice for you is that you try to answer them as honestly as you can, and make your decision from there.

Q. Emotional affair: My husband barely talks to me anymore. Our conversations center on our sons, the dog, and our house. Anything intimate or emotional, he clams up and changes the subject.

My husband has a twin sister with whom he has always been close. She never liked me very much and discouraged my husband from dating me while we were in college. She has warmed up since we got married and is civil when I see her, but that is it.

I am ashamed to admit it, but I went through my husband’s email after a lot of “late nights” at work. He wasn’t having an affair, but instead I found email after email of my husband discussing everything with his sister. He was worried about losing his job, thinking about moving careers, and talking about our marriage. He told her that I was more concerned about “being near a farmer’s market” than helping out financially (I am a stay-at-home mom). It was nauseous to read about all the details he told her—like he felt pressured by me to have a third kid, that I wanted to be a mom more than a wife, how our finances were going, et cetera.

I confronted my husband and I didn’t do it calmly. I know it was wrong to snoop but I felt so betrayed and exposed then. I told him I saw him pulling away from me and I thought he was having an affair, so I looked for evidence and found he was having an emotional affair with his sister. He got so angry I thought he might hit me. He screamed that I was sick in the head to accuse him of screwing his sister. That isn’t what I said!

Since then, he won’t talk to me and can barely look at me. As soon as the boys are in bed, my husband goes into the guest room and locks the door. My husband grew up without a father and always said he would never leave any of his kids; I don’t think he will ask for a divorce, but I can’t stand the thought of this being my life until our children grow up. I don’t know what to do. He wouldn’t agree to counseling because he “didn’t do anything wrong.” I feel so alone now.  Can you help me?

A: Your marriage has suffered about as thorough a breakdown of mutual trust and respect as it is possible to suffer. Go to counseling without your husband (for what it’s worth, relationship counseling is not actually about finding out who “did something wrong” and assigning blame, but about identifying problems in the relationship and finding new ways to approach them). It’s worth trying to figure out how you got to a point in your marriage that you could not speak directly about your issues but felt you had to go through his email, as well as the fact that, rather than saying, “You’ve been talking to your sister about our marital problems and I feel hurt and betrayed,” you accused your husband of having romantic feelings for his own sister.

On some level, you must have known that saying that would cross a line you could not easily return from. Was part of you hoping you could blow up your marriage, that at last you’d have something the two of you would have to talk about, if only to say that you were going to divorce over it? It’s worth figuring out the answers to these questions even if your husband doesn’t accompany you. I can’t imagine it’s likely that the two of you will be able to stay together—it may be best for everyone involved if the two of you divorce—but you deserve the chance to work through this with a good therapist. Go tomorrow.

Q. Gay: My sister came out as a lesbian this summer and I came out as bisexual this Thanksgiving to our very moderate middle-class parents. There were tears and talking and more tears, but my parents are ultimately supportive—almost too much so.

My father brings up his “gay kids” in everyday conversations to complete strangers. An old high school friend who works as a barista mentioned it to me when my dad comes in for coffee. He says how proud he is of us, but he brings it up all the time! My mom has joined PFLAG and has taken to taking pictures of pretty girls and sending them to my sister and me in an effort to set us up. My sister finds it amusing and sweet, but she lives 300 miles away. I live 30 minutes from my parents. I know how lucky I am and how my parents are only acting out of love but it is very embarrassing. How do I tell my parents I appreciate their effort but lay off it?

A: Oh, this is extremely sweet and charming and I can completely appreciate your embarrassment. Some of this I think is worth letting go, like the fact that your mother is in PFLAG (that’s a great outlet for her newfound enthusiasm, frankly), but there’s other things I think you can address. Tell your mother, “Mom, I love how supportive you’ve been, but I don’t want you to set me up with anyone, and it makes me uncomfortable when you send me pictures of pretty girls asking if I’d like to go out with them. I know you’re just looking for ways to connect with me, so please don’t feel like I’m trying to shut you down, but I just don’t want to find prospective dates this way.”

For your father, I’d suggest this: “Dad, I appreciate how supportive you’ve been since we came out, and I don’t want you to feel like you can’t talk about our relationship with anyone, but I’d appreciate it if you were a little more restrained when you bring us up around strangers or acquaintances. The other day a barista at the coffee shop you go to told me that they’d heard I came out, and I’m not comfortable having that kind of conversation with someone I barely knew in high school. Does that make sense?” Your parents sound like great people who are trying as hard as they can to love and support you; my guess is that they’ll ultimately appreciate any direction you can give them.

Q. More than a “mentee”: I recently started my first year in a new job, and was assigned a tenured employee to be my mentor during our orientation program. “Jennifer” is very sweet, tries to be helpful as I learn the ropes, and we have developed a friendly working relationship.

However, she has a habit that has been driving me crazy. Ever since the first time we met during the new employee orientation, Jennifer has refused to call me by my first name, preferring to call me “mentee” every time she interacts with me. If I see her in the building in the morning, I am always greeted by “Good morning, mentee!” or “How are you today, mentee?” At first it was sweet, but now that I’ve worked here for five months, it’s become irritating, and it has even extended to how she addresses me on social media. I know she means well, but it makes me feel like I am a child, instead of an adult who is her equal in our line of work. My co-workers have even started teasing me about it, and although it might seem petty, it really bothers me. How do I approach Jennifer and ask her to call me by my actual name without offending her or making her feel bad? I have avoided addressing it for fear of hurting her feelings.

A: “Would you please call me by my first name when we’re at work? I’m enjoying our mentoring relationship, but I’d rather be addressed by my name than as ‘mentee.’ Thank you!”

Mallory Ortberg: Thanks, everybody! See you next week.

If you missed Part 1 of this week’s chat, click here to read it.
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A Christmas Connection With Gay Culture Thanks to a Gay Men’s Chorus

A Christmas Connection With Gay Culture Thanks to a Gay Men’s Chorus

by John Culhane @ Slate Articles

Hey, Daddy! is a monthly column exploring the joys and struggles of parenting from a gay father’s perspective. Got a topic idea or question for Daddy? Send your letter along to johnculhane19104@gmail.com.

Within just a few minutes, the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus almost managed to redeem 2017.

Looking back over my columns since the 2016 election, I’ve been struck by how relentlessly despairing, or at least solemn, many of them are: concern about the sexual mistreatment of women and how to discuss the issue with teenaged daughters; the efforts at clawing back of LGBTQ rights we’d thought secured by marriage equality; the challenges faced by parents raising disabled kids; and, for good measure, the searing reminder of how we’d been forced to give up our beloved family dog.

Then, during our annual visit to that monolith of warm and fuzzy holiday cheer, Philly’s Comcast Center for the hologram-heavy Christmas show, our wait for the next performance was relieved by the sudden swell of male voices from a few yards to the west. David and I shepherded the kids toward the sound, and almost immediately figured out who was providing the stout, melodic cheer. About forty strong, the choristers tore through a bunch of holiday favorites, and closed with the feel-good chestnut, “Put a Little Love in Your Heart.” At some point, I found myself fighting back tears.

Maybe I was just tired, and less able to resist the emotional pull of music. And it certainly helped that the songs were issuing from actual people, working communally, rather than set among the exhausting, non-stop sludge of Christmas music blasting from every third radio station, and in every shopping center, that now begins its annual aural assault before Thanksgiving.

But whatever the reason, the event caused a rush of complicated emotions as I stood there with my family. A feeling of being connected to a gay community that provided me so much strength for so long, but that I now seldom engage with. The pride in hearing those beautiful voices with my daughters, who got to experience a moment of joy that perhaps deepened their appreciation for gay culture, or at least enkindled it. A familiar frisson of sadness as I surveyed the landscape of survivor-peers of the AIDS cataclysm. And then, unexpectedly, a memory of the post-Orlando massacre vigil we’d attended with the kids more than a year-and-a-half ago (and the subject of my first column.)

That Orlando recollection became Point Zero on a mental timeline, which then fast-forwarded through a jumbled, internal montage. I thought about the fear, anger, and resolve I carried forth from that event, through the dismal Fall 2016 campaign, its crescendo, and the ugly, crashing reality that has followed the election. I flipped through the Twitter train wreck of news and end times commentary that fills my time and my head every day, without pause or mercy. I cringed at the memory of all the fruitless Facebook arguments I’d had over issues ranging from gun control, to the Obamacare and tax bills to, most absurdly and most recently, whether “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is date-rape adjacent. It’s all too much.

Then, at least for a little while, I let it all go.

We were at the event with another (straight) family, and they didn’t even move closer to the singers. There was a practical reason for that—they have a much younger kid, and they wanted to make sure they held their ground where they’d have the best view of where the Christmas show was going to project. But it wasn’t just that: They could hear the music well enough from where we’d all been standing, and they didn’t feel any special connection to the chorus. It was a weighty moment for us, but not particularly significant to them.

Did our daughters have any of the same feeling we did? I don’t know. I recently did a few media things on the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, and was curious to see how they felt about the issues. I was surprised when one of them kind of shrugged off the discriminatory treatment that the gay couple had experienced: “I’d just go to another bakery!” she announced. “If they don’t want my business, too bad for them.” (For the record, her twin sister disagreed: “Why should they have to? And what if there are no other bakeries nearby?”) Probably because we’re so snugly ensconced in Straightville, they’re not generally too woke about the issues the LGBTQ community still faces. We do try to educate them, but they’re really not living any challenges because of their gay dads.

But maybe hearing the soaring voices of the gay chorus, and perhaps sensing how it affected their two dads, is the kind of thing that will seep into them. To what long-term result, I can’t now say. But given the challenges that these and other communities face with renewed urgency in 2017, we need to hope for the best—and to encourage them in actions that improve others’ lives and prospects.

Whatever our kids thought, David and I had a shared moment of pride in our people, reminding ourselves of something that’s become too easy to forget in our straight-seeming, mostly assimilated lives: The world would be a much less interesting or beautiful place without us.

Three Pillars Bar Lounge – Cozy, Upscale and Great Drinks and Japanese Food (NYC)

by Tina @ The Wandering Eater

There’s lots of bars in New York City and its nightlife give you a wide range to choose from the bustling, hole-in-the-wall to the really nice, upscale lounges that may reside in hotels. A relative newcomer from the Suzuki Hospitality Group (the group that owns the 1* Michelin sushi and seasonal kaiseki restaurant called Suzuki and a sushi bar counter seating restaurant, Satsuki) has Three Pillars Bar. This upscale yet cozy lounge is found across the hall from Suzuki restaurant. When you enter through the doorway, you’d see the short foyer filled with crystals dropping from the ceiling making it..

Gender Discrimination at Work Is All Too Real, With 42 Percent of Women Experiencing It

Gender Discrimination at Work Is All Too Real, With 42 Percent of Women Experiencing It

by Alieza Durana @ Slate Articles

Think problems in the workplace are limited to sexual harassment? Think again. New data from a nationally representative Pew Research Center survey out Thursday show upward of 4 out of 10 employed women report experiencing at least one kind of gender discrimination, not including sexual harassment, at work. A separate question found 22 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. The findings are especially significant because the survey was conducted between July and August of 2017, months before reports of sexual harassment and abuse across industries could have impacted perceptions of the questions.

The survey asked both men and women to report whether a series of incidents had happened to them because of their gender, including whether they had earned less than a woman/man doing the same job; were treated as if they were not competent; experienced repeated, small slights at work; been passed over for the most important assignments; felt isolated in the workplace; or been denied a promotion.

Black women were more likely to report at least one kind of gender discrimination (52 percent) than women who were white or Hispanic (40 percent for each). Perhaps the most surprising finding in the survey is that less educated women are less likely to report experiencing gender discrimination than their more educated peers (those with bachelor’s degrees and more): “Roughly three-in-ten working women with a postgraduate degree (29%) say they have experienced repeated small slights at work because of their gender, compared with 18% with a bachelor’s degree and 12% (of women) with less education.”

This finding seems counter to recent reports emphasizing high rates of harassment and workplace abuse in the lowest paid professions where the least educated women have very few labor protections. A 2014 report from the National Women’s Law Center suggests the 17 million women in low-wage jobs are especially vulnerable to harassment by low-level supervisors. One might guess this high vulnerability to abuse would be correlated with overall gender discrimination.

However, the lowest educated and lowest wage women are concentrated in “feminized” pink-collar jobs. They are overrepresented as child care providers, maids and housekeepers, home health aides, personal care aides, cashiers, and in food service. A side effect of this concentration: There may just be fewer men around to discriminate against women in “feminized” professions or for women to have other professional experiences to compare it to. Kim Parker, director of social trends research at Pew and a co-author of the report, notes that other studies have shown women in female-dominated workplaces don’t experience the same rates of discrimination as those in male-dominated workplaces.

Increased levels of education (and discrimination) may have more to do with different perceptions of discriminatory experiences at work. Women might learn about discrimination (as a concept) through higher education and secondly, believe that by getting an education, they should be able to overcome any barriers that exist in today's society. In other words, whether women consider discriminatory behavior like getting passed over for a big assignment to be normal or to be discrimination may vary by level of education.

But Parker wants to ensure that this question of perception does not mean we should assume the discrimination some respondents report isn’t happening, just because they’re more likely to report it than less educated peers. According to Parker, for more educated women, “There’s probably a greater level of awareness about these types of experiences, what they mean, and the broader conversation around gender and work.”

In addition, the structure of low-wage versus high-wage work might affect knowledge of discrimination: High turnover and income volatility might make it harder for workers to know things like whether their income is the same or less than that of co-workers of a different gender. Data from the Urban Institute show that “40 percent of low-income, working-age adults have household income that spikes or dips in at least six months of the year,” probably reflecting job instability. It’s possible that discrimination is more noticeable the longer you're in a job, up for promotions, and exposed to hierarchy in the workplace, which is increasingly limited to higher-wage work. Women with more education may have a leg up on learning about salary differentials, or other less visible forms of discrimination.

As for the sizable racial differences in whether they say they’ve experienced: In particular, while more than 1 in 5 black women say they’ve been passed over for the most important assignments because of their gender, less than half that number of white and Hispanic women report this experience. These claims bolster other findings reflecting worse incidences of most kinds of gender inequalities for black women compared with women as a whole (according to the NWLC, while women over all make about 80 cents to the dollar men make, black women make just 63 cents).

The study’s findings on sexual harassment are also somewhat low, just 22 percent of women and 7 percent of men, compared with other recent polls, though that may be due to the question design and the survey’s pre-Weinstein timeline. But in a different study that breaks down that harassment question to ask respondents about whether they’ve experienced more specific behaviors, such as “unwanted sexual attention,” that number goes up to 40 percent of women reporting harassment.

Parker says the number of men who reported experiencing one of the eight kinds of gender discrimination in the survey (22 percent) is similar to other studies on the question. She points to an October study from Pew that showed a significant portion of men, mostly white men, believe that women are getting preferential treatment in hiring, pay, and promotion. But, according to Parker, women respondents to the survey released today were more likely to have experienced more than one of the kinds of discrimination than men. “Among men who say they’ve experienced at least one of the eight forms of discrimination we asked about, 56% have experienced one and 44% have experienced two or more. Among women who say they’ve experienced at least one of the eight forms of discrimination we asked about, 37% have experienced one and 63% have experienced two or more.”

In the context of our #MeToo moment, they’re helpful in confirming what many have suspected: Sexual harassment and misconduct are happening in the context of larger patterns of behavior that create discriminatory and sexist work environments.

Net Neutered

Net Neutered

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Q. No Facebook allowed: We have a vacation place in a popular tourist area. It’s pretty rural, there’s no cell coverage, and we had to go through a lot of engineering and effort to get ourselves workable internet service. My wife and I are both pretty strongly averse to social media. We’ve therefore blocked all the major social media services at our homes. We often invite friends to come stay with us—and we give a heads-up that there’s no Facebook et al. available.

Some guests have seemed put out by this. Is it so unreasonable? We believe that social media is monetized narcissism, that it distracts us, invades our privacy (we don’t want our property to be free content for these companies), and interferes with having quality time with our guests—that would be our answer if someone were to ask why we block the services, but we don’t volunteer the reasoning. I feel like they wouldn’t be likewise affronted by foregoing meat as guests at a vegetarian house. Is this so different?

A: I don’t know how similar not being able to access social media sites are to eating meat-free meals, but I don’t think you need to come up with direct analogies to vegetarianism in order to justify your choices. You and your wife have decided not to make that aspect of the internet available in your home, and as long as you let your guests know in advance, you’ve discharged your duties as polite hosts. If your guests want full Internet access, then they are welcome to pay for a hotel in your “popular tourist area.”

Q. Baby blunder: When my husband and I found out I was pregnant with our first child and were ready to tell our respective parents, we didn’t put much thought into whose parents we’d break the news to first. We happened to be at my in-laws’ house on Christmas Eve so we told them that night, and of course they were overjoyed. The next day, we expected the same reaction from my parents. Instead, the first words my Mom uttered—captured on video, no less—were, “You told [my in-laws] first, didn’t you?”, with a scathing look on her face. When I said “yes,” she was devastated and didn’t speak to me for two days. On the third day, I got a very tearful phone call saying how badly I’d hurt her, and that since my in-laws already had grandkids the news wasn’t as special to them. She said we should have told them first because I’m their daughter, and that “one day I’d understand.”

Were my husband and I in the wrong? Her reaction completely spoiled what should have been a joyous occasion, and I’ve had a hard time not being resentful toward her.

A: I want to try to be as generous as possible to your parents, but I don’t think that’s going to take me very far. You mother’s attempt to rank “how special” having a grandchild is to each future grandparent, according to her own particular algorithm, makes it seem like she’s going out of her way to get her feelings hurt.

If she wants to get hung up on the fact that her in-laws found out a full 24 hours before she did, rather than on the fact that you and your husband are going to be having a child—then that’s her choice. I personally think it’s a bad one! But it’s certainly not one you need to apologize or take responsibility for.

Q. Friends with exes: I am dating “Simone,” and we are on the verge of getting serious. She is pretty, funny, and the complete package, except for one thing. She doesn’t think people can be friends with their exes.

I can understand her perspective, because she got pretty badly burned by past boyfriends who cheated on her with their ex-wives or girlfriends. I have been lucky that all my relationships except one ended on good notes. Either we broke up over different life choices (wanting kids) or careers (moving for work). I actually ended up playing matchmaker for a few. Simone freezes up with my friends after finding out I dated this one or slept with that one in college. We have told each other about our serious past relationships, but recently she has been needling me about being a “player,” and dropping plans with my friends if one of my known exes is there. She says she trusts me and I have reassured her over and over.

One of my serious exes will be staying with me for a few weeks while she house hunts. She is married to my one of my best friends and they are moving back from out of state. I will not actually see much of her beyond picking her up at the airport. I will being seeing them socially when they move here. How do I prepare Simone? I want to be a good boyfriend here.

A: It sounds like Simone’s biggest reactions have arisen when she’s met a friend of yours whom you’ve later revealed to be an ex. The problem isn’t just that you’ve stayed friends with a lot of people you’ve dated or slept with, the problem is that you don’t share that information with Simone upfront. This is a pattern you’re about to repeat, inasmuch as you’ve made plans to let one of your exes crash with you for “a few weeks” but don’t seem to have shared that news with your current girlfriend yet. Which, by the way, I think is absolutely fine, but you do need to share this information with Simone before your houseguest arrives. I don’t think you have to do much in the way of “preparing” her other than being honest; if Simone wants to get serious with you, she’s going to have to accept that you’re close with some of your exes, but that you’re not trying to cheat on her with any of them. If she can’t accept that, it’s probably better to know sooner rather than later.

Q. I grew up weird: We were brought up in a very religious, weird family setting. My grandfather was a very loving mentally ill man who nobody questioned. He believed he was a prophet and all blindly followed. We had an “independent” church in the basement of our deep country land.

My mother made our lives worth it with her love and kindness, but to this day I still resent her for putting us through so much pain and confusion. I love her and I know she was a victim too, but where do I draw the line? I see a psychiatrist and therapist just to function. She didn’t harm us, but she was an adult and did nothing to protect us. How can I forgive her when she doesn’t believe anything went wrong?

A: You do not have to forgive your mother for your childhood. I know that there’s a lot of value placed on forgiveness in religious settings, as well as in a secular therapeutic context, but all too often what that means is that someone who was victimized or harmed in a profound way is encouraged to paper over their pain, offer unearned absolution, and perform happiness. You can love your mother, accept her flaws and limitations, acknowledge the ways in which she failed you, experience periodic anger and resentment, all while remaining in her life and seeing her as a complex, multifaceted person. Your only “job” with regards to your own childhood is to attempt to view it as accurately and as honestly as possible, and to take care of yourself in the present. You do not have to forgive your mother, nor do you have to pretend that your childhood was fine just because she does.

Continue to see your therapist and psychiatrist. Set whatever boundaries you need to with your mother. If that means not talking about your childhood with her right now, then that’s fine. If that means having a painful conversation with her about your childhood at some point and having a fight, then that’s fine too. The point is that you don’t have to forgive your mother in order to love her, so please don’t feel like it’s your job to get to a place of forgiveness unless and until you decide it’s something you’re ready for.

Q. Day care: I telecommute most days because of medical issues. Over the Christmas break, two of my long-term friends and co-workers had emergency childcare issues (a spouse left for family medical issues, and the daycare burned down).  It would have seriously damaged all of our work, so I offered to watch their girls (12, 10, and 9), who aren’t old enough to be left by themselves but mature enough not to be a bother. We packed down into my basement where they watched TV and read books. I would periodically check on them but I never had any problems. Their mothers packed their lunches and snacks.

My husband mentioned the arrangement to his sister, and she flat out told everyone she expects me to do the same for her boys! Besides them being younger, my nephews are loud, active, and have severe behavior problems. There is no way they can be trusted to be left alone for any period of time.  My sister-in-law does not take no for an answer and runs right over everyone else in the family. This will cause a fight. My husband’s idea is just not to take the girls, but that screws me over with my work! How do I get out of this?

A: You and your husband are going to have to give your sister-in-law “no for an answer,” I’m afraid. I don’t know how much longer you plan on providing emergency daycare for your friends, but the fact that you’re willing to look after three children temporarily in order to keep your workplace afloat doesn’t mean you’re suddenly on the market as a full-time babysitter for any and every relative in need of childcare. You say this will cause a fight, but it’s a fight you’ve got to have; your sister-in-law can and will take no for an answer if you and your husband refuse to give in to her. “No, that doesn’t work for us,” is going to be your constant companion. Not “I’m sorry, but…”, and not “The reason that doesn’t work is…” Just “No, that doesn’t work for us.” You don’t have to “get out of” anything because you haven’t promised your sister-in-law anything, and she’s not entitled to anything from you just because she has unrealistic expectations.

Q. How to put this delicately: My brother—the baby, the favorite, the only boy, et cetera— is getting married. My mother is insistent on looking “drop-dead gorgeous” on his wedding day, and she sends me nightly links to very inappropriate (both in style and for her age) dresses she’s considering buying for this event. I very nicely and politically rule them out for largely made-up reasons, but I’m hoping you can help me come up with a sentence or two to delicately communicate why 1) dressing this way is inappropriate, and 2) you should not be attempting to outshine the bride (I’ve literally had to nix several ivory dresses).

And now for some context! Her other children are married and she dressed tastefully for those weddings, and she only moderately gets along with my brother’s wealthy in-laws-to-be. I realize this shouldn’t be my problem, but here we are.

A: “Hey Mom, you should run these outfits past [Brother and wife-to-be]. Anything that’s not white or too bridal-looking should be fine, but it’s not my wedding, so you should check in with them instead of me. Good luck finding something!”

Q. I dropped off the face of the earth while dealing with an untreated mental illness: As a teenager, I lived briefly with a set of foster parents and their two daughters. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was suffering from undiagnosed PTSD stemming from the situation that led to my living with a foster family. Once I turned 18 and felt I had exhausted my welcome, I moved out on my own. As my mental health collapsed, and I found myself less and less able to maintain relationships, I withdrew from almost everyone. Nobody reached out to me during that time, including my former foster family. Several years later, I learned that the younger of the two daughters apparently hates me for “abandoning” her. I’m not sure what explanation she was offered by the family for my disappearance, but I gather it didn’t paint me in a very positive light. I’ve sent her a couple of messages, but after she ignored the first few, I took that as a cue that she no longer wanted to have any contact with me and stopped.

Is there anything else I can or should do to make amends with this young woman? I feel terrible about the whole situation.

A: While it sounds like your former foster-sister was probably a child during the time of your disappearance and can’t necessarily be expected to have had a fully rational view of reality, I don’t think you should be too hard on your past self. You were a teenager dealing with untreated PTSD and a deeply painful upbringing. You may wish you had handled things differently, but you were doing your best at the time with the tools that you had. I only wish your former foster-family could extend a little more compassion toward you. If she doesn’t respond to your messages, then you certainly can’t force her, but please don’t feel like you have to wear a hairshirt in order to get her attention.

Q. Grimy in-laws: My partner’s parents are lovely, kind, and giving people. They spend much of their time providing for others, especially caring for their nearby grandparents. They spend decidedly less time taking care of their home. Their house is covered in a layer of dust. There are cobwebs in every corner. Their kitchen has layers and layers of oil and food spills. Their floors are littered with debris. Worst of all, their bathroom is covered in black mold! My partner’s mother has a lot of health problems, some of which keep her from keeping up with chores, and some that I believe are exacerbated by the state of the house. I believe their home has been in this state since my partner was a child, but it’s certainly gotten worse given recent health episodes.

I want to help them fix their house, either by offering my time on weekends to clean or offering to pay for a house cleaning service to stop by a few times a month. However, I’m afraid that if I offer to do this I will offend them! I did a little extra cleaning when I spent the holidays with them, and they seemed a little off-put by my insistence on vacuuming the house. We have a great relationship right now, and I don’t want to tarnish it by giving them the impression that I find them dirty. My partner doesn’t want to take the reins here and I certainly don’t want to seem like a persnickety daughter-in-law. I know this problem will only get worse as they age and more health issues emerge. I’m seriously worried that they’re destroying their home and will lose it due to lack of upkeep.

How can I broach the subject without offending them? Or should I just mind my own business and let her children take the lead? Thank you for your help!

A: A bathroom that’s covered in black mold is several steps beyond being “persnickety.” While black mold may not be immediately dangerous, it can certainly exacerbate respiratory issues or lead to possible infection in children or people with compromised immune systems. Talk to your partner about the best way to broach the subject with your in-laws. If your mother-in-law has health problems and they’re both struggling to maintain their multiple obligations to their own parents, then it’s likely there is a way you can frame offering to pay for a cleaning service as a gift and a relief. That’s not to say you two should feel responsible for making sure your in-laws keep their house’s initial value—that day may already be long past.

Be sure, too, that when and if you hire a cleaning service, that you inform them ahead of time about the mold issue and make sure they’ve got the right equipment to deal with it, so that you’re not putting their health at risk either.

Q. Re: Baby blunder: You didn’t do anything wrong. Your mom’s reaction is manipulative and selfish. I don’t know if this is part of her personality, but it makes me wonder what type grandmother she’ll be. If you give in to your mom’s childish behavior, I predict future tantrums about spending time with her grandchild. “The subject is closed. Do you want to talk about something else, or should I hang up now?”

Q. Re: Baby blunder: So sorry you feel that way, mom. We happened to be at my in-laws’ house and we told them. That’s all. You’re still my mom, and I’m counting on your help when the baby comes, and I really hope you’re not going to bean-count every moment with the new baby, or I will be absolutely miserable. Love you!

A: These are both fabulous scripts that offer your mother an opportunity to focus on the (many!) joyful aspects of becoming a first-time grandmother. I hope she takes that opportunity, but if she doesn’t, I think it’s good advice to not try to soothe her tantrums.

Mallory Ortberg: Thanks, everyone! See you back here next week at our normal time on Monday.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!
If you missed Part 1 of this week’s chat, click here to read it.

The Flat-Out Best Vietnamese Restaurants in Denver

The Flat-Out Best Vietnamese Restaurants in Denver


DiningOut Denver/Boulder

The moment you’ve been waiting for is here: the everything-food-and-drink list to end all lists....

Top 5 Seafood dishes to try in Vietnam

by fred wilson @ Back of the Bike Tours

We always recommend travelers in Vietnam to definitely try what the locals call “ốc”, which literally means “snails”, though its meaning is actually going out and enjoying seafood, including crabs, shrimps, oyster and yes, snails. However these ốc restaurants usually have only a 5 to 10...

Centro Mexican Kitchen’s Johnny Curiel Is Cooking Up the Mexican Food You Never Knew You Loved - In the kitchen with Centro Mexican Kitchen's new chef

by diningoutadmin @ DiningOut Denver/Boulder

Boulder boasts many a longstanding culinary icon: Dushanbe Tea House, Lucille’s, Tom’s Tavern (now SALT), Jax, The Greenbriar, Flagstaff House. ...

The post Centro Mexican Kitchen’s Johnny Curiel Is Cooking Up the Mexican Food You Never Knew You Loved appeared first on DiningOut Denver/Boulder.

Friendly Ghost

Friendly Ghost

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week by signing up in the box below. Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

Got a burning question for Prudie? She’ll be online here on Slate to chat with readers each Monday at noon. Submit your questions and comments here before or during the live discussion.

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

* * *

Dear Prudence,

I have a friend, or maybe I had a friend, who I saw at least once a week all summer, but who I have only seen a few times since the school year started. At first I chalked this up to being busy: I’m a teacher; she is the mother of two middle schoolers and is going through a divorce. Whenever I see her (we share a hobby) she no longer initiates conversation and offers minimal replies to my questions. She doesn’t reply to text messages about getting together or asking how she’s doing, although she does eventually respond to logistical questions. She seems to speak to other people normally and responds to our mutual friends in a way she no longer does to me. I feel singled out, and I’m not sure what’s changed between us. I finally wrote her an email saying I miss our friendship and that if I’ve done anything to offend her, I’d like to know what it was so I can make amends. She never wrote back, and I know the healthy thing to do is let it go and accept that she doesn’t want to be friends anymore. But I don’t know what letting go looks like, given that we share a small, tight-knit group of friends, and I still feel hurt and confused by her sudden change in behavior.

—Haunted After Being Ghosted

Uncertainty and ambiguity can make an already difficult situation all the more painful. Knowing a friend has ghosted you, and coming to terms with the fact that, for whatever reason, they’re not going to tell you why things have changed, can be maddening. You’re right, though, in realizing that the answer to “But I’ve got to find out why or I’ll lose it” is not, and can never be, “I’m going to keep pushing until I get a satisfying answer.” Letting it go, in this context, does not mean that you feel great every time you run into her with mutual friends, and feel total lightness and neutrality when you say, “Great to see you, gotta run” while gliding past her in a new peacoat that screams I’m Doing Great, the Loss of Our Friendship Hasn’t Bewildered Me or Crushed My Heart in Any Way. It means you keep feeling hurt and confused, probably for a long while, and it will take a certain amount of effort to keep yourself from trying to pump your mutual friends for information or sending another follow-up email. That’s to be expected. You won’t get over this in a few weeks or even a few months. You may often feel a pang, even years from now, when you think of her or run into her unexpectedly. All that “letting go” has to look like is respecting the fact that, for whatever reason, she doesn’t want to talk right now, and finding an appropriate time and place to let out your grief, confusion, and frustration on your own.

* * *

Dear Prudence,

I’m trying to recover from a bad breakup. It happened quickly and without warning. I had already purchased Christmas gifts for my then-boyfriend and some of his family members. I’m struggling to decide if I’m obligated to give these gifts to them or send them back. Giving them to him wouldn’t help with my healing process, but his family was incredibly kind to me. What should I do?

—Heartbroken

No, you are not obligated to give a present to your ex. It would not help you get over him, and he likely wouldn’t welcome it, given that he just ended your relationship. And as kind as his family may have been, I don’t think it will do you any good to put yourself in the position of giving them presents and revisiting your breakup just a few weeks after the fact. It’d be one thing if you two had been together for years and you considered his family your own, but unless your relationship was unique, the odds are that you are not going to be spending a lot more time with them now that you’re no longer dating your ex. Return the gifts, or find someone else who might enjoy them, and focus on getting through the holidays.

Dear Prudence,

I’m unsure about what to do with my current relationship. I’m 23, he’s 28, and we’ve been dating for about five months. He’s an incredibly sweet, fun-loving, and compassionate guy, so I have nothing negative to say about his character. However, there are a few reasons why I don’t see us having a real future together.

He doesn’t want kids and never has, whereas I’ve always wanted to be a mom. The last time the subject came up, he said he would “let our relationship grow until I genuinely want to have children with you,” but that for now, the thought of having kids scares him. He has a history of depression, and sometimes hypochondria. For the past few months, he’s been experiencing a lot of symptoms that he thinks could be indicative of multiple sclerosis, cancer, or other diseases, and it’s been causing him a lot of stress. I’ve tried my best to be supportive—after all, some of the symptoms could be cause for concern—but after several visits to the doctor, he has acknowledged his hypochondria and resolved to treat it. I respect him a lot for that.

I’m ashamed to say this, but I often find myself fantasizing about past lovers. I know that to a certain degree this is normal, but I feel like I’ve gone way past normal at this point. It’s probably around 80 percent of the time. He frequently tells me how much he loves me, and how much he wants to be with me. I love him too, but when he said that he wants to “spend the rest of [his] life with” me, I told him that it was too early for such a profound statement.

—Stay or Go

Break up with him. It’s wonderful that you respect his recent decision to take better care of his mental health and seek help for his hypochondria, and it’s great that you don’t have anything negative to say about his character, but neither of those are reasons to stay in a relationship with him. He doesn’t want kids, and you do. Presumably you don’t want kids with someone who says “I’m willing to force myself to want them for your sake, if you can get me to love you enough in the future”—you’d like to have kids with someone who actually wants to have kids. Moreover, you’re not enjoying the sex the two of you have together (or at the very least, you’re finding yourself fantasizing to a degree you’re not comfortable with and in a way you haven’t done in previous relationships), and you’re feeling rushed into a form of emotional intimacy and commitment that you’re not ready for. Those are fantastic reasons to break up with someone.

I don’t think you’re unsure at all. You seem pretty clear that you don’t see a future with this guy. Implicit in your letter are two fears: One, that if you break up with him as he’s dealing with a possible health crisis, that makes you a bad person; and two, that he’ll try to talk you out of breaking up with him by minimizing your incompatibility and emphasizing how much he loves you. When it comes to the first fear, I think you can absolve yourself of any guilt. What’s not working in your relationship has nothing to do with his health status, and he’s already seeing a doctor and seeking further treatment—you’re hardly leaving him to languish. When it comes to the second, I think you’re right to anticipate at least the possibility of emotional manipulation when you break up with him. Remind yourself that breaking up does not have to pass by a unanimous vote, and that it’s not a referendum on how much he loves you. It’s simply a question of, “Is this relationship working for me?” Based on your letter, the answer seems like a pretty clear no.

* * *

Dear Prudence,

I’m really struggling with the idea of telling my parents about my girlfriend. They’ve known I’m bisexual for about five years, but it wasn’t by choice, as my mother cyberstalked and subsequently outed me. They’re very homophobic and self-righteous, and after that breach of trust, I’ve taken the stance that they don’t have a right to know about my romantic life. I haven’t cut them off completely, though, and I don’t think I want to, but my good old Catholic guilt complex is making me feel like I can’t tell the rest of my extended family about my relationship, or consider proposing to her, before I tell my parents. That prospect scares me: I’m afraid they’ll yell about my selfishness or tell me I’m going to hell, that they’ll try to manipulate me with suicide threats, that their negative views will taint my relationship and make me second-guess myself, or that my mom might try to take her anger out on my sister, who still lives with them.

I’ve set deadlines for myself to tell them multiple times and have always chickened out. It’s easy to keep a secret since I live halfway across the country and we don’t talk often. But we’ve been dating more than two years and I know that this is weighing on my girlfriend. My sister is the only relative who knows about her, and I go home for the holidays by myself. The last time I went home I was so anxious that it made me physically ill. I know I need to get my butt to therapy because this is a lot, but in the short term, I’ve set my next deadline for after my sister finally moves out of my parents’ house mid-December. Prudie, how do I screw my courage together and actually tell them this time? Would it be horrible of me to just make a Facebook announcement and turn off my phone?

—Coming Out Again

I can feel the panic and pressure you’ve been dealing with for years radiating off the screen. You’ve been almost as hard on yourself as your family has been on you, and it seems like you’ve unintentionally internalized a lot of your parents’ ideas. You seem to think that coming out about your relationship on Facebook in a way that would maximize efficiency and minimize the opportunity for a homophobic backlash is “horrible”—like you’d be getting away with something, or somehow avoiding a more painful conversation that you think you should be having with them instead. I don’t think that’s the case. You do not have to engage with manipulative threats of suicide, the promise of hell, or violent homophobia, whether it comes from your parents or from anyone else. That’s not something you have to meet with grace or understanding, or patiently endure, or calmly offer counterarguments against. They’re not trying to have a conversation with you—they’re trying to abuse you back into the closet using whatever tools they can find. I’m glad to hear you’re planning on starting therapy soon, and I hope it proves helpful as you continue to find ways to set boundaries with your parents—Huge boundaries! Firm boundaries! Boundaries that can be seen from space!—and you have my full permission and approval to come out on Facebook, and subsequently delete or ignore abusive messages.

* * *

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I have been together for over a decade, and we both have children from our first marriages. He has a son who is now 14 and lives with his mother in another state. My husband’s relationship with his first wife is extremely strained, and they don’t speak. I know that a few months into the move his son contemplated suicide, and I reached out to my stepson’s mother back in August to try to bridge the gap between them. Things have been changing for the better. My husband and his ex still don’t talk, but I’m hoping that will change soon, and in the meantime I still talk to her for their son’s sake.

Now that we’re communicating with his son more via the phone, his social media profiles have been automatically “suggested” to me as a contact. Everything I have seen so far is “gay” this and “gay” that, and as I looked further I noticed that he has a few gay friends. I’m wondering if I should ask my husband’s first wife if she is aware of his social media. On one of his profile pics there is a quote which states, “I don’t want to live.” But I don’t know how to ask. I’m not even sure if she knows. I don’t know if I should leave it alone because I don’t want to offend anyone, or not be able to communicate with my husband’s son anymore. Please help!

—Reaching Out

Please don’t run the risk of outing your husband’s vulnerable young son to his parents. What you’re doing right now—offering your support from a distance, communicating regularly with your stepson’s mother, doing your best to establish a rapport between your husband and his ex—is helpful, compassionate, and the most you can do in your current situation. Your stepson can talk to his parents about being gay when and if he’s ready; having that conversation on his behalf, especially when you know he’s struggling with suicidal thoughts, would be counterproductive. The question to ask yourself is, “Have I learned anything from this accidental social media connection that could help my husband’s son?” Your husband and his ex-wife both already know their son is struggling with depression, so there’s no new information there. Outing a young, vulnerable teenager without his knowledge or consent will not help him either. Keep doing what you’re doing. You can certainly ask your husband’s ex-wife how her son is doing and encourage her to make sure he’s receiving adequate support and treatment for his depression, but beyond that, you haven’t learned anything that you have an obligation to disclose.

* * *

Dear Prudence,

My brother and his wife have been married over 10 years and have a son, 9, and a daughter, 7. Over the last five years my sister-in-law has become, in my opinion, obsessed with her looks. She’s a stay-at-home parent in name only who spends hours (and sometimes overnight trips) at the gym every day, constantly enters beauty pageants/fitness competitions, and seems to spend close to no time with her children. At best she ignores them and at worst she treats them with contempt. My brother is paying for several of her plastic surgery procedures. Even when she is at home, she listens to music with her earbuds in so it is very difficult for any of them to initiate an interaction with her. My brother works full time and takes care of the children and the household—paying bills, laundry, cooking, cleaning, yardwork, helping with homework, getting the kids to and from their activities, etc. It has become obvious to my husband and I, as well as others in our family, that the kids need attention and are suffering. I have repeatedly expressed my concerns to my brother and told him that no matter what he decides I am here for them. He is not willing to make moves toward a divorce or go to counseling. He says if he divorces her, he will have “failed.”

At Thanksgiving, I was saying goodbye to my niece and nephew while my brother was saying goodbye to relatives in the other room. My sister-in-law was sitting nearby. During this exchange, my niece told me, loudly, Auntie, I love you more than I love my mom,” then looked very pointedly at her mom and hugged me again. It was obviously a very awkward moment. I said something to the effect of, “Now, now, I’m sure you don’t mean that.” My sister-in-law feigned surprise and then just laughed. I realize a holiday dinner with a house full of people is not the appropriate time to ask my 7-year-old niece about her feelings. I still feel bad. I feel like I failed my niece by contradicting her feelings, and I also feel like I unwittingly condoned my sister-in-law’s behavior. Is there something else I could have said or done in that moment?

—Acquiescing Aunt

I’m afraid this may be another unfortunate instance where you, the letter writer, are doing as much as you possibly can in the interest of furthering the greatest possible good, and that doesn’t really fix the situation. You can’t do much more than you already have to encourage your brother to consider counseling or addressing the problems in his marriage. What you can do, in the meantime, is to continue to spend time with your niece and nephew and offer them as much love and support as you can. That doesn’t mean you’re single-handedly responsible for making up for the fact that their mother treats them with indifference and contempt, while their father is so overwhelmed by working full time and keeping the household running that he can’t attend to their emotional needs. But these kids need all the love and attention they can get right now, and they’re already close to you, which puts you in a position where you can at least be helpful.

Beyond that, don’t beat yourself up too much for trying to defuse the situation over Thanksgiving. How terribly sad that your sister-in-law’s only response to hearing what was obviously a plea for affection was to laugh and do nothing. If you want to bring it up with your brother and reiterate that you don’t think your niece was just joking around, but that she was desperately trying to get her mom’s attention, and encourage him once again to seek counseling either singly or as a couple, I think you should. Whether or not he chooses to take your advice or continues to bury his head in the sand is ultimately up to him.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

More Dear Prudence

That Magic Feeling: Prudie counsels a letter writer on whether you can feel when you’re with the right person.

Baby’s First Sermon: Prudie advises a couple who wants a grandmother to stop trying to convert their infant son into her faith.

Hurt Felines: My teenage neighbor ran over my cat while texting. Now her parents want me to help her with her guilt.

Singing Praise: Prudie counsels a letter writer who thinks her child can’t—and shouldn’t—sing.

Spectrum of Support: Prudie advises a letter writer whose sister refuses to make special accommodations for her son’s autism spectrum disorder.

He’s Mine Now: My fiancé’s ex-wife calls us her “gay husbands.”

Not Her Only Mom: Prudie advises a mother who wants her adopted daughter to learn the truth about the tragic deaths of her birth parents.

Sexy Claus: Prudie counsels a father who walked in on his daughter while she was having sex with her costumed boyfriend.

How to Make Vegetable Prep Easier with Your Food Processor

How to Make Vegetable Prep Easier with Your Food Processor

by Bay Area Bites @ Bay Area Bites

Take a break from practicing your knife skills and let your food processor do the work.

The Best Travel Gadgets and Accessories

The Best Travel Gadgets and Accessories

by Lori Keong @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Every travel situation requires a different set of tools and knickknacks, whether you’re taking a road trip, a red-eye, or backpacking from hostel to hostel. That’s why we talked to eight different kinds of travelers who haven’t settled for the sedentary lifestyle—from professional travel writers and expedition leaders to hardcore nomads (one who’s already ticked 65 countries off of his bucket list) about the special travel accessories that have made their journeys that much easier.

They described in-flight necessities that make that cramped plane seat a little more bearable, functional gadgets that are small miracles in off-the-grid regions, and even a de-constructable suitcase that has earned many admirers abroad.

“Pacsafe makes all kinds of products geared toward travel experts looking to stay one step ahead of thieves, which are RFID-protected (meaning they keep people from swiping your credit-card information). I personally like the Pacsafe wallets because of their retro design, and the ability to chain the wallet to your belt or belt loop. This is essential not only when you are in a big group of people (like a train station in India or tourist area in China), but also when you have had too much to drink and might leave your valuables unattended and lost.” —J.R. Harrison III, nomadic traveler who has backpacked to over 65 countries and six continents, travel blogger at The Savvy Vagabond

Pacsafe Anti-Theft RFID Wallet
$24, Amazon

“I always have tons of gadgets when I travel: the Kindle Paperwhite, the GoPro Hero 5, the Sony A7 Mirrorless Camera, the MacBook Air, multiple USB power banks (all of which are Anker, by the way, the best company for this stuff), etc. When couch surfing—or staying in guest houses, especially hostels—around the world, plugs are few and far between. There are also times when you may be on the move for a few days and won’t have time to sit and charge all of your things for 12-plus hours. This is where this wall charger comes in handy: All you need is one outlet that you can reach with the extended cord, and voilà, plug six devices in all at once.” —J.R. Harrison III

Anker 6-Port USB Wall Charger
$21, Amazon

“It’s funny-looking, and before they were more prolific, I always worried people would think I was wearing a neck brace, but it’s the most practical neck pillow I’ve tried thus far. And I can sleep through an entire 15-hour flight, so clearly it’s working for me.” —Sarah Khan, travel writer

Trtl Pillow
$30, Amazon

“I take quite a few red-eyes, and it’s not uncommon for me to head straight to meetings from the airport, so I always have a great eye mask on hand to ensure I can get a good night’s sleep. Slip makes a fantastic one that we also carry in our stores.” —Jen Rubio, co-founder of Away

Slip Silk Sleep Mask
$45, Amazon

“This cap can turn any Nalgene water bottle into a pressurized shower. Just screw on the lid, pump up to pressure, and depress the button. Mist yourself off on a hot day, rinse your dishes, or even wash your hair while camping. It’s pressurized water, wherever you go. We already ordered ours!” —Megan and Michael of travel blog Fresh Off the Grid

Lunatec Aquabot Sport Water Bottle
$30, Amazon

“Small and portable, this tripod can be set up instantly. It’s not intrusive to your fellow travelers, easy to use, and compact enough to slip into a suitcase or even a day pack. Add an adapter to safely sync this sturdy little tripod with your smartphone.” —Jen Martin, director of expedition development, expedition leader, Lindblad Expeditions

JOBY Gorillapod Flexible Tripod
$58, Amazon

“This plasma arc lighter is hands down the coolest way to light a fire. Using a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, it generates an electrical arc that is 100 percent windproof. It comes with an integrated flashlight and lantern, so you can offer somebody a ‘light’ in every sense of the word.” —Megan and Michael

Power Practical Sparkr
$60, Amazon

“Lightweight, compact, and easy to pack, this utensil set is great for camping trips or just having in the glove box of your car. Never use disposable plastic utensils again!” —Megan and Michael

To-Go Ware Bamboo Travel Utensils Set
$13, Amazon

“I like the Garmin eTrex—it’s rugged, waterproof, and small enough to hold in your hand or pocket. The latest updates have improved screens, resolution, graphics, and ease of use. Having a GPS can come in handy if you want to record where you’ve been or specific locations you’ve visited. (Did you propose on a trail hike? Want to geocache a message for future travelers?) We use them often to record good landing sites, hiking trails, and as an additional safety measure.” —Jen Martin

Garmin eTrex 30x Handheld Navigator
$182, Amazon

“I never really invested in quality headphones until now, and I’m so glad I did. Beats by Dre’s new Studio 3 headphones have advanced noise-canceling technology that can drown out everything. I take a lot of red-eyes, and have always found it nearly impossible to sleep with the constant buzz of the plane’s engine, so these headphones are game changers. They’re wireless, so I can connect them to my iPhone via Bluetooth or use the removable cord to plug them in when I want to watch a movie. They’re not cheap, but if you travel a lot, I think they’re worth it.” —Laura Itzkowitz, freelance travel writer and editor

Beats Studio 3 Wireless Headphones
$290, Amazon

“For a total gadgetry pick—more for fun than functionality—a range finder is high on my list. Tell your distance from a glacier face or know how far your ship is from shore or the nearest iceberg. It’s an interesting option—especially in cold climates, where the ‘white on white’ topography makes it impossible to tell distances. Small and portable, this is highly rated and comes from a company known for good optics.” —Jen Martin

Nikon Prostaff 7i Laser Range Finder
$285, Amazon

“These headphones block out all the noise in an airplane. The motors, but also crying children and snorting men. The sound is, of course, phenomenal—so perfect to watch a movie, listen to some music, or get into a meditation mode.” —Pauline Egge, travel blogger and creator of PetitePassport.com

Bose Quiet Comfort 35
$329, Amazon

“I always use the Pearl when I’m on a trip. It’s designed with the traveler in mind, so everything fits in it. That is, my camera, my phone, a charger, lipstick, my wallet, a small notebook, and a pen.” —Pauline Egge

Pearl Cross-Body Bag
$174, Lo & Sons

“I just got the carry-on suitcase by Away, which has a super-sleek design with a virtually indestructible shell, built-in USB charger, and clever internal compartments, including a waterproof laundry bag. Just make sure to remove the battery pack if you’re traveling through Asia! A friend got flagged at security because of it.” —Laura Itzkowitz

Carry-on Luggage
$225, Away

“I am absolutely in love with this backpack. It’s expensive, but I really couldn’t find a better option that’s both stylish and practical. If you are carrying anything nice as far as a laptop, gadgets, or a nice DSLR camera, these bags are the truth. It is padded in just about every area, provides easy side-pocket access, a padded slip for a laptop, a pouch for a tripod, and enough space for a Bluetooth speaker, hard drive, clothes, or whatever else you want. Extremely durable, sexy, stylish, comfortable, and practical.” —J.R. Harrison III

Yeti Backpack
$368, Zkin

“I took this suitcase with me to Asia, Europe, and the States. Everywhere I went, people reacted to the suitcase as if it were a Labrador pup. They wanted to touch it, use it, and basically wanted to take it with them immediately. The Bugaboo Boxer (yes, of the stroller company) is a suitcase you push instead of pull. It has four wheels you can easily fold and unfold. It makes traveling so much lighter. I’m a big fan.” —Pauline Egge

The Bugaboo Boxer Fully Loaded
$1,490, Bugaboo Boxer

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Hue Oi Vietnamese Fountain Valley Redondo BeachBEST Vietnamese

Hue Oi Vietnamese Fountain Valley Redondo BeachBEST Vietnamese


Hue Oi Vietnamese Fountain Valley Redondo BeachBEST Vietnamese

Hue Oi Vietnamese Cuisine Redondo Beach Fountain Valley California Voted Best Vietnamese Orange County South Bay Los Angeles

The health benefits of Vietnamese food

by Emma Nguyen @ I Love Pho

Australia has exploded lately in a health and gourmet food craze. Fuelled by Tv shows like Masterchef, MKR and The Biggest Loser. Aussies are now learning to eat healthier foods and enjoy them.What most don’t know however is that there is already a succulent and healthy option for lunch and dinner in restaurants all over...

The post The health benefits of Vietnamese food appeared first on I Love Pho.

The Best Vegetarian Restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City

by fred wilson @ Back of the Bike Tours

If you are following us on our YouTube Channel (and you should!) you probably would have watched all of our top 5 already. Our goal as always is to provide travelers with the best spots, according to us, for various Vietnamese street food or activities here...

Vietnam 101: How do the Vietnamese celebrate Christmas? (and travelling tips if you're in Vietnam during Xmas) - Rice 'n Flour

Vietnam 101: How do the Vietnamese celebrate Christmas? (and travelling tips if you're in Vietnam during Xmas) - Rice 'n Flour


Rice 'n Flour

How do the Vietnamese celebrate Christmas and what-to-do, where-to-go... if you visit Vietnam in this holiday season? some observations and many tips 4 U

The Best Bar Carts on Amazon

The Best Bar Carts on Amazon

by Lauren Levy @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

To find the very best products that no human being would have the time to try, look to the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star ratings and lots of ’em) products and choose the most convincing. You’ll find the best crowdsourced ideas whether you’re searching for comforters, bed sheets, or even Christmas trees. Below, the best bar carts determined by the hard-nosed reviewers on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

Best Cheap But Expensive-Looking Bar Cart With Stemware Rack

4.6 stars, 148 reviews
“Absolutely gorgeous! Elegant, minimalist style was the missing thing for my apartment. This is a cute, chic thing! Metal with black glass is so trendy. Fair price and excellent quality.”

Coaster Kitchen Carts Serving Cart With 2 Black Glass Shelves
$69, Amazon

Best Cheap But Expensive-Looking Bar Cart Without Stemware Rack

4.3 stars, 103 reviews
“This small bar cart is ideal for a small apartment. I assembled it without any help, but it would have gone faster with someone else on hand. Still, all the parts went together easily. I had no problem with screws and wheels, which were mentioned in other reviews. If you assemble it carefully, you should be happy with it, too.”

Chrome Metal Bar With Tempered Glass
$80, Amazon

Best Folding Bar Cart

4.5 stars, 445 reviews
“Neatly packaged and arrived on time. The product is already assembled and neatly folded as shown in the images. All you have to do is screw on the wheels on the legs, and it is ready to use. If you are looking for something that is easy to move around and blends in well with your dining room or kitchen, this is perfect and I recommend it.”

Folding Metal Rolling Serving Cart
$60, Amazon

Best Tiered Bar Cart

4.8 stars, 52 reviews
“I love this cart! We live in a smaller condo and it looks great in our living room, and it is great for entertaining guests and easy to decorate. Funny thing is, I put the top or the middle on wrong and ended up having the wine glasses hang on the wrong side, but I actually like it this way, and it freed up another shelf so … that was lucky. Anyway, if you want a quality-looking cart, pick this one. I chose to leave the wheels off, but there are wheels that come with it as well.”

Holly & Martin Zephs Bar Cart
$124, Amazon

Best Traditional Bar Cart

4.5 stars, 170 reviews
“I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on this. It’s small, but that’s why I like it. The color looks really red in the pictures, but it matches my expensive furniture perfectly. The only thing I don’t love is the gilded accents. I might take it apart someday and paint them. It’s not that big of a deal, though. It was a good piece for the price.”

Coaster Serving Cart
$49, Amazon

Best Bar Cart With Cabinets

4.5 stars, 181 reviews
“This bar cart is everything you could ask for. At first, my fiancé and I weren’t sure about how it would look, but after purchasing it, we couldn’t be happier. The cart looks amazing when stocked. Everything came very well-packaged, and assembly was not too bad … about an hour and a half total construction by myself. Just a heads-up, not all size wine glasses will fit in the rack, only smaller white-wine glasses. Also, the bottom rack of the wine-bottle holder is really only meant for larger bottles, as smaller ones will roll around between the wood dividers. But, if the cart is stationary, that won’t matter.”

Winsome Wood Entertainment Cart
$137, Amazon

Best Disguised Liquor Cabinet

4.3 stars, 210 reviews
“I was afraid the quality might be crap, but I was very pleased. It was well-packed and easy to assemble, and it looks beautiful in my living room and holds a ton of bottles and glasses. I absolutely love it!”

Sixteenth-Century Italian Replica Globe Bar Cart
$215, Amazon

Best Bar Cart for Your First Apartment

4.8 stars, 90 reviews
“Great, versatile storage unit! Manual doesn’t include any words, only images, but it’s easy to follow. Comes with everything you need to quickly install your storage unit, except the ‘plus sign’ screwdriver. Love it! I’m always changing what I store in here. I had originally bought this to store snacks, but then quickly changed my mind. And in the first bin, I store first-aid products; second bin stores beauty products; and the third bin stores some office supplies. May not be the most practical, but it can always change. Love the versatility of this storage unit!”

Raskog Home Kitchen Bedroom Storage Utility Cart
$42, Amazon

Best Bar Cart for a Tiny Apartment

4.4 stars, 75 reviews
“Well-made, solid, and sturdy. Exactly what I was looking for! Love it!”

Welland 3-Tier Wood Rolling Cart
$80, Amazon

Best Bar Table

4.5 stars, 289 reviews
“This was just what I was looking for. Great for my small apartment and holds a good amount of alcohol and glasses. Looks very stylish and wasn’t difficult to assemble.”

Coaster Home Furnishings Contemporary Bar Table
$160, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

This week: pre-Christmas, Vietnamese food & Chocolate | The Wandering Eater

This week: pre-Christmas, Vietnamese food & Chocolate | The Wandering Eater


The Wandering Eater

[Translate] I have about a week and a half left ’til school’s over. I’m happy and unhappy about that statement. If you’re wondering why I’m happy, it’s a given, no more class work, papers, and tests; unhappy it’s because I can’t go out to eat that often and the fact that finals are coming closer…my unfortunate future. But what can I do really? Ever since Turkey Day (Thanksgiving) passed, almost every single freakin’ building in Manhattan has been decorated with Christmas lights, decorations, or even large displays of Christmas stuff out in the open. It’s impossible to forget that Christmas..

The Best Champagne Glasses on Amazon

The Best Champagne Glasses on Amazon

by Maxine Builder @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

To find the very best products that no human being would have the time to try, look to the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star ratings and lots of ’em) products and choose the most convincing. You’ll find the best crowdsourced ideas whether you’re searching for comforters, bed sheets, or even Christmas trees. Below, the best Champagne glasses—including plastic and stemless Champagne flutes—determined by the hard-nosed reviewers on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

Best Pair of Crystal Champagne Flutes

4.6 stars, 207 reviews

“Extra-special in looks and would be the perfect ‘toast flutes’ for weddings, at events or [parties]. A few times a year I host events and celebrate with Champagne and loving adding these to my collection. An extra kind of fancy and I just love them. Besides the lovely shape, this set of flutes are made extremely well. Sitting all beautiful and level and being very lightweight, which I can certainly appreciate. At the same time, they are far from being fragile. Very tall and display very nicely. I would love to add a few more to my collection and definitely recommend to others.”

Bella Vino Crystal Champagne Flute Glasses
$20, Amazon

Best Pair of Insulated Stemless Champagne Flutes

4.5 stars, 255 reviews

“These Champagne glasses are a very cute and unique way to toast or simply enjoy a glass of Champagne—or even sparkling cider. The double wall gives the glass a different look than your standard glass yet allows the inside to maintain the temperature longer than a regular glass. The glass itself has a good weight to it but is not overly heavy. It does not seem thin and fragile as a standard Champagne glass. The cylindrical shape allows for an easy grasp that fits nicely in the palm of your hand. However, it has a very smooth finish, and there is nothing to keep it from sliding out of somebody’s hand—if, say, they already had one too many. I personally hold it with my pinky under the bottom for security.”

Eparé Champagne Flutes, Insulated Stemless Glass Set
$18, Amazon

Best Set of Four Crystal Champagne Flutes

4.5 stars, 377 reviews

“These are beautiful glasses that have a nice weight to them and feel special in the hand. The one thing that I did not think about when I bought them, however, was that, even though they are dishwasher-safe, they are too tall to fit in the top drawer of my dishwasher. The Champagne does bubble nicely in them … That said, I’d buy more of these, if I needed them.”

Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Glass Pure Stemware Collection Champagne Flute with Effervescence Points, 7.1-Ounce, Set of 4
$56, Amazon

Best Set of Four Decorative Crystal Champagne Flutes Less Than $25

4.4 stars, 160 reviews

“I purchased a set of these crystal Champagne flutes recently, and was so happy and pleased when I received them! They look like they cost so much more than they did! They are so beautiful! These Champagne flutes make you feel a little bit special, when you use them! I would definitely purchase them for a wedding gift, or a housewarming gift!”

Godinger Dublin Crystal Champagne Flutes, Set of 4
$18, Amazon

Best Set of Four Decorative Crystal Champagne Flutes Less Than $50

4.5 stars, 142 reviews

“I purchased the wine flutes as a wedding shower gift, they were lovely, so I had to buy a set for myself. So, with the beautiful Champagne flutes and a nice bottle of Champagne I had a very lovely wedding shower gift for under $50.”

Marquis by Waterford Omega Flute, Set of 4
$41, Amazon

Best Set of Four Plastic Stemless Champagne Flutes

4.1 stars, 263 reviews

“I bought both the wine and Champagne flutes. Was worried they would look cheap and ugly—they didn’t! Friends are shocked they’re not glass. Lightweight, perfect for our boozy concert picnics in D.C., where no one wants to give up form for function. Don’t wash in dishwasher and they’ll last a long, long time I think. Just bought two sets (wine and Champagne) for two friends and I’m positive they’ll love them as much as I do.”

Govino Go Anywhere Champagne Flute, 8-Ounce, Pack of 4
$13, Amazon

Best Set of 12-Glass Stemless Champagne Flutes

4.3 stars, 308 reviews

“Amazing for entertaining. I got these for NYE and have also used them for mimosas during brunch. Much better than glasses with stems for guests. They are just more stable and less likely to go flying with the commotion of a party. I don’t want to serve nice drinks in plastic cups—stemless wine and Champagne glasses are seriously the best option for a party! I always get compliments on mine and so will you!”

Libbey Stemless Flute Glasses, 12 Piece Set
$25, Amazon

Best Set of 12 Plastic Champagne Flutes

4.7 stars, 174 reviews

“I bought these for a boating trip and they were perfect. I’m not one to give 5 stars but these flutes deserve it. It was nicely packed when it came. The glass is sturdy, looks elegant and perfect for any event. I’ve bought Champagne glasses like these before but other brands need assembly. No assembly is required for these! You can also re-use these glasses. Although these flutes are disposable, they are of such high quality! You do not want to regret not buying these glasses.”

Premium Quality Plastic 5-oz. Champagne Flute, Set of 12
$20, Amazon

Best Set of 12 Plastic Stemless Champagne Flutes

4.6 stars, 602 reviews

“Perfect for an outdoor wedding. They are sturdy so I didn’t have to worry about them tipping over from the wind or someone bumping a table. And since they were disposable, it made the after-party cleanup very easy.”

TOSSWARE 9-oz. Flute, Set of 12
$11, Amazon

Best Set of 96 Plastic Champagne Flutes

4.5 stars, 118 reviews

“I thought these were excellent value for just a ton of attractive party glasses. They look good in person. They’re sturdy, like, sturdy enough that if you wanted to you could use them again. We were able to build a little tower with them. They’re very clear, They’re colorless (I had been concerned they might have a yellow tinge) and they just held up really well. I’m really pleased with the purchase.”

Fineline Settings 2106 - 5 Ounce Flairware ClearOne Piece Champagne Flute 96 Pieces
$48, Amazon

Best Champagne Bong

4.6 stars, 358 reviews

“I absolutely LOVE to Chambong! I bought my original Chambong before the holidays and let me tell you, it really gets the party started! My first bong was back ordered twice so I was super happy to find this one on Amazon Prime. I also need to tell you guys how impressive the packaging is. Wow! That’s half the reason I bought this second bong as a gift for my Champs-lovin’ friend. She went nuts for it!”

Chambong
$35 for 2, Amazon


This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Bay Area Bites’ Guide to Winter Recipe Favorites

Bay Area Bites’ Guide to Winter Recipe Favorites

by Wendy Goodfriend @ Bay Area Bites

Winter doesn't mean you can't make tasty meals. Try our seasonal favorites and comfort food classics.

Is a Federal Junk Food Tax in Our Future?

Is a Federal Junk Food Tax in Our Future?

by Civil Eats @ Bay Area Bites

As momentum builds for local soda taxes, a new study suggests taxes on junk food could be an effective public health tool.

How Do You Stay Fit as a Food Lover?

How Do You Stay Fit as a Food Lover?

by Bay Area Bites @ Bay Area Bites

The staff of America's Test Kitchen shares some of their tips for staying healthy in a food-friendly environment.

Around the World in Houston: Discover Vietnam | 365 Houston

Around the World in Houston: Discover Vietnam | 365 Houston


365 Things to Do in Houston

Join the journey and discover Vietnam as we explore a new region of the globe each week in our Around the World in Houston series.

Traditional Vietnamese Flavors In A Modern American Setting

by phonatic @ Phonatic Vietnamese Cuisine

For diners looking to avoid greasy hamburgers and dishes drowned in butter, there may be an option you haven’t considered: Vietnamese food. Read Full Article

The post Traditional Vietnamese Flavors In A Modern American Setting appeared first on Phonatic Vietnamese Cuisine.

Good Food and Cocktails at Villanelle (NYC)

by Tina @ The Wandering Eater

Villanelle refers to a 16th-century Neapolitan style of melodic poetry consisting of 19 lines. The space has a subdued, earthy look with pine beams running along the bar area, and white brick walls and gray banquettes in the dining room. We stopped by one frigid evening to have dinner and started off with cocktails that run the spectrum from creative takes on classics like the Paul Revere – a nod to the period and it’s a fantastic, smoked version of the Old Fashioned. The Merciless Beauty, as we were informed by the wait staff, a take on the martini. While..

8 Events to Round Out December - Don't close out 2017 without hitting up a few more foodie faves

by diningoutadmin @ DiningOut Denver/Boulder

Need a little solace in between holiday shopping? Here are eight events to round out the month. 1. Gingerbread House ...

The post 8 Events to Round Out December appeared first on DiningOut Denver/Boulder.

How I Saved the Christmas Pageant

How I Saved the Christmas Pageant

by Catherine Trieschmann @ Slate Articles

It is an unspoken ecumenical truth that all Christmas pageants suck. That’s why, for many years, I avoided any involvement in the pageant at the Methodist church we attend in our small Kansas town. I can pinpoint the exact moment when that changed. It was when a bathrobed third-grader recited the worst line in the history of theater.

Five years ago, during a particularly uninspired pageant, we reached the scene in which the Angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds, announcing, “Greetings! I bring you tidings of good news!”

In response, a shepherd replied, “Good news? You want some good news? My dad just saved money on his car insurance!”

The offense did not end there. To make matters worse, the congregation laughed. The third-grade shepherd grinned a sly grin and stuck that good feeling in his back pocket. Now, for the rest of his sweet life, he would never know the difference between a cheap laugh and a real one. It would have been unethical of me not to take action.

I’m a playwright. Not a famous one, but a working one, with productions in theaters around the country. When I try to explain my career to people in town, they usually think I’m making it up—the idea of someone working in professional theater seems as unlikely as voting for a Democrat. So it hasn’t been difficult to hide my bona fides from the school- and church-theater contingent who will eat your time like piranhas if you hint at any experience hanging lights. It’s hard enough to hustle up paid work in the theater; the last thing I wanted to do was give it away for free. But this car-insurance quip crossed a line for me. Clearly, I had a moral duty to teach the children of my town how to cross stage left, speak into a microphone, and land a joke that wouldn’t make them feel dirty in the morning.

The next December, I took full responsibility for the Christmas play: writing, direction, and design. First, I threw out the script. I kept the main players—Jesus, Mary, and Joseph—but axed the shepherds and wise men. Little boys and girls dressed as shepherds look ridiculous, and while the wise men do have an interesting story, the subplot about Herod murdering all the babies in Bethlehem would entail too much bloodwork for my first year.

I also nixed the “Biblical times” costumes the church stores in the basement. I know the women who made these costumes in the 1970s spent a lot of time on them, but I wanted an aesthetic that was a little more symbolic—Godspell, not Jesus Christ Superstar. Mary would look like a modern preteen with patched-up jeans and Taylor Swift T-shirt, someone wholly unprepared to give birth. I wanted Joseph to look like a drummer in a band, a little stoned but accepting of the unexpected, like Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted’s.

I kept the story simple yet tried to make it feel a little surprising: The kids would try to retell the story of the birth of Jesus but would keep getting the details wrong and have to go back to the beginning. They’d argue the finer points and re-enact the story as they went along—Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf meets A Charlie Brown Christmas. Postmodern, but orthodox.

Creative differences emerged immediately. The director of children’s ministry had this notion that we should cast children based on age and participation rather than talent. Given that most of the kids couldn’t sing, dance, act, project, or enunciate, it was imperative that we showcase those who possessed one (or, dare I hope, more?) of these skills. Our biggest fight occurred over the preschoolers. As soon as one peed his pants at the first rehearsal, I wanted to fire them en masse. Mrs. Children’s Ministry insisted they were too cute to fire. I told her that I, as auteur, had final veto power. That’s how it works in professional theater! Mrs. Children’s Ministry informed me things work differently in church.

I rewrote the play so the preschoolers only appeared in the first scene.

Staging was difficult, as each one of the under-rehearsed and hyperactive kids had to deliver her lines into one of four standing microphones because a local radio station broadcasts our church’s services for the infirm, the elderly, and truck drivers passing through on I-70. Precious rehearsal time was spent on these mikes: getting them to work, adjusting them for actor height, and, most of all, instructing the kids never to lick them under any circumstances. It didn’t help that the experienced broadcaster who ran the soundboard for the church could no longer hear very well.

We didn’t have much rehearsal time to spare, because none of the actors could ever find an hour free in their busy schedules. What happened to all the stage mothers? Aren’t there still women who want to vicariously luxuriate in the limelight through their children? Give me Mama Rose any day of the week! These parents just didn’t care. They excused their children from rehearsal for visiting grandparents, for a worrisome cough—but mainly for sports. We had six rehearsals. Six! For a play meant to be an offering to God, the creator of the universe! And you want Jalen to miss dress rehearsal for basketball practice?

Practice. Not even a game.

On the day of the show, the kids, giddy with excitement, blew their entrance. They ran to the altar in one big jumble. They settled down after “Rudolph”—which has no place in a Christmas pageant but was one of the few songs all the kids knew—and once the dialogue kicked in, they really found their groove. My child’s lines went over like gangbusters—giving your kid the biggest laughs is the best perk of the job—and I was starting to feel pretty smug about professionalizing this little community venture. Until Molly took her turn at the microphone.

Dressed to the nines as an angel, pigtailed, chubby-cheeked Molly stepped forward, shaking with a bad case of stage fright. Her face flushed, her chest heaved, and with tears streaming down her face, she quickly muttered her line: “For unto you is born this day in the City of David, a savior who will be Christ the Lord.” Then she let out a huge sigh of relief into the microphone, like a balloon slowly deflating but loudly amplified throughout the sanctuary by the hard-of-hearing sound engineer.

And in that moment, my inner Corky St. Clair melted away and gratitude rushed in: gratitude for Molly and how she rose to the occasion; for all the parents who schlepped their kids to play practice; even for the director of children’s ministry who put the kids and their needs first. And yes, for theater—because even when it’s bad, it can be so good for those doing it.

Since then, we’ve told the story of the Nativity from the perspective of the wise men and the stars in the sky over Bethlehem. I’ve dressed my kid in drag to play King Herod; I’ve even put the third-graders back into the shepherds’ bathrobes as a nod to pageants past. This year, the pageant’s central character was the innkeeper who turned Mary and Joseph away. I highlighted this moment in the story to explore how we treat immigrants and refugees, people who don’t look like us or talk like us, but whom Jesus tells us to welcome anyway.

Every one of the 46 kids got a moment to shine, and they all truly understood the play’s message. Maybe some members of the congregation did, too.

Eating out in Vietnam

Eating out in Vietnam


The Economist

As communism crumbles, a great cuisine revives

The Best Gifts You Can Have Delivered Same-Day With Amazon Prime Now

The Best Gifts You Can Have Delivered Same-Day With Amazon Prime Now

by Maxine Builder @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

We’re less than two days away from Christmas, and if you haven’t started shopping for holiday gifts, you really are cutting it close. This is when you start looking at Amazon Prime Now, the retailer’s same-day delivery service, to see if there are any gifts you can have dropped off on your doorstep within hours of ordering it.

There are some caveats here. Amazon Prime Now delivery is only available in American cities—and in New York City, just Manhattan and Brooklyn. Plus, not all items are available in all cities or even zip codes. (We used the zip code for the New York office—10013—to determine prices and availability of these gifts.) But if you do live or work in a place that’s eligible for the service, here are some of the best gifts you can have delivered today, including some that are hard to find elsewhere, leaving you plenty of time to wrap them up and put them under the tree before Christmas Eve.

Yes, you can get an Instant Pot delivered to your home in under 24 hours.

Instant Pot DUO80 8-Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker
$130, Amazon

This retro video game console comes preloaded with 21 games.

Super NES Classic
$80, Amazon

Or, if you prefer a more analog holiday season, here’s a classic card game.

Uno Card Game
$5, Amazon

This Fitbit can track your steps and also notifies you when you get a text.

Fitbit Alta Fitness Tracker, Silver/Black, Small (U.S. Version)
$129, Amazon

A basic cast-iron skillet is the best gift for a home cook who’s still learning their way around a kitchen.

Lodge L8SK3 10-1/4-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet
$15, Amazon

Of course you can get an Amazon Echo on Amazon Prime Now and have it delivered within hours of ordering.

Echo Dot (2nd Generation) — Black
$30, Amazon

The best gift for the home cook who has everything.

Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker Bluetooth, Immersion Circulator, 800 Watts, Black
$100, Amazon

Straight from an 8-year-old boy’s wish list.

Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster
$14, Amazon

This hand blender might not be as powerful as a Vitamix, but it’s just as versatile (and takes up less cabinet space).

KitchenAid KHB2351CU 3-Speed Hand Blender — Contour Silver
$53, Amazon

A cheap, but relaxing, stocking stuffer.

Whole Foods Market, Lavender Vanilla Fizzing Bath Bomb, 2.3 oz
$3, Amazon

The best gift for a gym rat or the wellness-obsessed is this pair of workout-friendly headphones.

Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones, Black
$129, Amazon

Spend Christmas trading sheep for ore and building roads.

Catan 5th Edition
$43, Amazon

If you’re planning on gifting bottles of wine, at least get some gift bags so that it looks like you put in some effort.

Hallmark Bottle Gift Bag with Tissue Paper (Dots and Dashes)
$6, Amazon

This Zojirushi water bottle is a perennial Strategist favorite, because it keeps cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot.

Zojirushi SM-KHE48BA Stainless Steel Mug
$27, Amazon

For the vegetarian cook who’s still using their hand-me-down copy of the original Moosewood Restaurant cookbook from the 1970s.

The Moosewood Restaurant Table: 250 Brand-New Recipes From the Natural Foods Restaurant That Revolutionized Eating in America
$24, Amazon

This Bluetooth speaker is fairly compact, but it doesn’t sacrifice sound quality.

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Super Portable Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker, Phantom Black
$75, Amazon

This mask from culty brand Mario Badescu will both clean pores and tighten skin—and makes a great stocking stuffer.

Mario Badescu Super Collagen Mask
$18, Amazon

These adorable bear mitts are a fun gift for a home cook with a sense of humor.

Fred Bear Hands Oven Mitts, Set of 2
$14, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

Pho

by admin @ Miss Saigon

See more of this amazing dish! Pho is a Vietnamese specialty. Available…

PhoNatic Real Vietnamese Food - Pho is phresh, phast & phun!

PhoNatic Real Vietnamese Food - Pho is phresh, phast & phun!


Phonatic Vietnamese Cuisine

Pho is Phun! Build your own Pho or enjoy authentic recipes with quality ingredients, phast! We believe everyone should have options to burgers, chicken and tacos in clean environment.

Spending Christmas in Saigon, Vietnam

Spending Christmas in Saigon, Vietnam


Back of the Bike Tours

Do you wonder what you can do in Saigon around Christmas time? Back of the Bike Tours guides will tell you how to enjoy your holidays in Saigon!

The Best Cookware Sets

The Best Cookware Sets

by Maxine Builder @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

To find the very best products that no human being would have the time to try, look to the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star ratings and lots of ’em) products and choose the most convincing. You’ll find the best crowdsourced ideas whether you're searching for comforters, bed sheets, or even Christmas trees. Below, the best cookware sets determined by the hard-nosed reviewers on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

Best Three-Piece Set of Nonstick Pans

4.3 stars, 1,675 reviews
“First of all, I cook constantly and really appreciate … having the different sizes for preparation. The smaller is great for omelettes and scrambled eggs. The other two are most helpful in food cooking without [using] any heavy nonstick products. The large pan is great for frittata recipes that I love to make because you can flip it without it falling apart [or] being stuck to the pan. Recommend it highly for anyone making dinner in a timely way, without the worry of sticking and burning. Great product!!”

T-fal B363S3 Specialty Nonstick Cookware Set, 3-Piece Gray
$21, Amazon

Best Five-Piece Cast-Iron Cookware Set

4.7 stars, 1,177 reviews
“I decided to try out cooking on cast iron a while back, and my mom sent me one of her old, well-seasoned ones. After reading up on how to take care of it, I was a little intimidated. Once I actually dove in and tried it, though, I loved it. I’m never going back to supposedly nonstick pans again. This Lodge set is a great deal if you’re wanting to get started with cast iron because you get several essential pieces for many uses. They come preseasoned, but I went ahead and reseasoned them anyway. It’s easy to do and gives a better start. These are more nonstick than my nonstick pans ever were, and they hold heat remarkably well. I even gave one of the skillets to my mom (in exchange for the one she had lent me previously).”

Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron 5 Piece Bundle
$115, Amazon

Best Seven-Piece Stainless-Steel Cookware Set

4.3 stars, 11,273 reviews
“This set is a great deal. They have a good weight to them, heat fast, and cook evenly. Whenever anyone sees them, they’re surprised at the quality of them—especially considering the price. Never having personally owned anything other than nonstick pans, this was a real upgrade for me. I felt like I was cooking in the commercial kitchen again. I love to cook, was a cook in college [and] during the recession, and cook at my friends and family’s houses a lot when I visit. Honestly, I know people who have heavier cookware that costs more than twice this much that doesn’t handle as well as this set … All that being said, if you already have owned stainless cookware, it may not be such an upgrade. Still, a great option for the person who loves to cook but isn’t up to spending hundreds of dollars on cookware yet.”

Cuisinart 77-7 Chef’s Classic Stainless 7-Piece Cookware Set
$68, Amazon

Best 10-Piece Stainless-Steel Cookware Set with Steamer Insert

4.6 stars, 1,091 reviews
“The best part of this set (in my opinion) is the vegetable steamer! It’s such an AMAZING little attachment. It fits into any of the pots and is to be used in conjunction with all of them. I can boil pasta, put the veggies in the steamer, overtop the pasta with a lid, and steam veggies while cooking pasta—I LOVE it! … All in all, we LOVE this set and are so glad we didn’t spend the money for the more expensive ‘name-brand’ sets we looked at. These are a great value and if taken care of will last a LONG time! Enjoy!”

Cooks Standard 10-Piece Multi-Ply Clad Cookware Set, Stainless Steel
$138, Amazon

Best 10-Piece Ceramic, Nonstick Cookware Set

4.1 stars, 2,297 reviews
“So far, love these pots and pans! I wanted something nonstick (not Teflon) that would match my kitchen and stand up to regular daily use. These fit the bill well so far. They are stylish to look at, lids fit well, generously sized, materials feel nice to the touch. Grip handles feel good in the hand. They are super efficient and conduct heat much more quickly than my previous pots and pans, so I do have to be mindful of adjusting cook time and temps until I get used to them. (We have a gas stove, so I can only imagine how efficient they would be on electric.) … This set cleans up easily and is just darn pretty to look at in the cabinet. VERY pleased!”

Cook N Home NC-00358 Nonstick Ceramic Coating 10-Piece Cookware Set, Green
$56, Amazon

Best 12-Piece Porcelain, Enamel, Nonstick Cookware Set

4.4 stars, 1,319 reviews
“I absolutely LOVE this cookware set!!! The color is so beautiful and looks so pretty in the kitchen. This set includes pretty much everything you need to cook with. I’ve made some nice soups with the stewpot, cooked lots of eggs and omelettes with the frying pan, and some nice stir-frys in the larger pan with the lid. Heating up sauce in the saucepan has been so easy and heats up so fast. I love the nonstick pans as [they make] cleanup time so much faster with a rinse in the sink and a quick wash. Unfortunately, my spatula broke this summer, but it did come in handy on the outside griddle for breakfast! I recommend this cooking set, as it’s been a year and I am still happily using mine!”

Rachael Ray Cucina Hard Porcelain Enamel Nonstick Cookware Set, 12-Piece, Agave Blue
$92, Amazon

Best 12-Piece Dishwasher-Safe, Nonstick Cookware Set

4.3 stars, 1,247 reviews
“My wife and I love to cook and are fairly rough on cookware. Our last set of pots and pans looked like they had barely made it out of the Battle of the Bulge. So we started looking for something that would be tough, look good, have nonstick surfaces, and last a long time … So far, with about a year on this cookware set, it is holding up excellently. No problems with the Teflon coatings and no problems with wear or tear. This set can also be used in the dishwasher, and so far, the finish on these items is still excellent. They are easy to use and easy to clean, and the set still looks brand-new. What more can we ask for? This cookware set easily beats other sets costing 10 or 20 times as much money. Highly recommend and five stars!”

T-fal C530SC Signature Nonstick Expert Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Dishwasher Safe Cookware Set, 12-Piece, Black
$63, Amazon

Best 12-Piece Stainless-Steel Cookware Set with Glass Lids

4.2 stars, 2,057 reviews
“I love this set. [The pots and pans] are solid and durable. While this set is inexpensive, it is not a cheap, thin set. They are very well-made and cook evenly on a gas-range stove. You can also bake in any of the pots and pans because they are metal all the way through. The only issue I have with the set is, the handles are metal and can get very hot … I keep pot holders and oven mitts on hand at all times. I would absolutely buy this set again and recommend it to others who want a good, solid set that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.”

Cook N Home 12-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
$52, Amazon

Best 12-Piece Stainless-Steel Cookware Set with Stainless-Steel Lids

4.5 stars, 3,523 reviews
“I love these pans. Fantastic buy for the money! My favorite part is the MultiClad not only on the bottom of the pans, but on the sides. The pans heat so evenly, and that makes a difference in the food. It is a superior-quality stainless-steel pan set. Pans all weighted really good, the lids fit perfect[ly] … Food cooks wonderfully both on stove top and in the oven. They clean very easily—if food sticks a bit, or more than a sponge removes in a wipe, soak a bit in plain water then wash, super easy. I immediately ordered a set for my daughter and her family for Christmas.”

Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set
$197, Amazon

Best 15-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set

4.4 stars, 1,990 reviews
“This cookware set is really amazing, each piece heats evenly and they are so convenient to use and clean. They have even created fewer dishes in the sink because I am now able to cook more in one pot or pan when I used to have to use multiples at one time. I did not realize how much easier cooking could be with the right cookware. They are also very cute, bright colors and cool shapes to them. Beware of the ones without rubber handles; always use a pot holder as the heat conducts to the ceramic handholds.”

Vremi 15 Piece Nonstick Cookware Set - Multicolor
$46, Amazon

Best 17-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set

4.4 stars, 4,161 reviews
“I purchased this set after buying several sets of cheaper cookware over a few years. I’ve had this set for over a year, and I still love it! So worth the money! First off all, they feel heavy-duty without being too heavy! The coating is great, and even stands up to the few times my husband or son have used them, which says enough right there! My eggs cook like a dream! No sticking, even without adding oil! I love that I can stick them in the oven, makes it so much easier when I want to sprinkle a topping on a skillet dish and still cook it. These are so easy to clean! Just a sponge and hot, soapy water. No need for soaking!”

Cuisinart 66-17N Chef’s Classic Non-Stick Hard Anodized, 17-Piece Set, Black
$161, Amazon

Best 18-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set

4.1 stars, 1,899 reviews
“I loveeeee these pans! … The nonstick is no joke. I’m not the best chef out there, I haven’t burned anything on these pans yet, but seriously, nothing sticks on these pans. Everything slides off so easily — it makes for a simple happiness in life. I loathe washing pans because food gets stuck to them, and it takes muscle and willpower to scrub them off. With these, I just wait for the pans to cool, soak them in warm water (if tidbits of food [or] grease are really stuck), and just wash no problem, no ridiculous amount of effort exerted. With proper care, I can see these lasting a long while. So happy to have them! And they make learning how to cook more enjoyable.”

T-fal B165SI Initiatives Nonstick Inside and Out Dishwasher Safe 18-Piece Cookware Set, Red
$83, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

The Best Space Heaters

The Best Space Heaters

by Maxine Builder @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

To find the very best products that no human being would have the time to try, look to the best-reviewed (that’s four-to-five-star ratings and lots of ’em) products and choose the most convincing. You’ll find the best crowdsourced ideas whether you’re searching for comforters, bed sheets, or even Christmas trees. Below, the best space heaters determined by the hard-nosed reviewers on Amazon. (Note that reviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

The Best Electric Space Heater, Overall

4 stars, 13,149 reviews
“I love this little heater. I have had it for almost two years now (I was impressed to see how long I have had it, using it every workday with no issues) to keep me warm in my freezing office, and it is a lifesaver. It does a great job warming up my cubicle, and my co-workers are always surprised at the temperature difference at my desk when I have it on. Some even come over to warm up on extra-cold days. It is very quiet, too—you can only hear some light airflow, no more noisy than an office printer, and I barely notice it. When I do, it just sounds like white noise. Ten out of 10 recommend!”

Lasko 754200 Ceramic Heater With Adjustable Thermostat
$19, Amazon

The Best Personal Electric Space Heater

4.1 stars, 5,017 reviews
“Wow, this thing puts off a LOT of heat, for such a small heater! I was expecting some mild heat, but no, in only 30 seconds or so, this little guy really got toasty! I use it to keep my hands warm while using a keyboard or mouse, and I had to move it further away because it was making my hands too hot! Another thing I found neat is the fact that the sides of the heater don’t get hot. The sides, top, and bottom all stay perfectly cool, so you don’t have to worry about burning yourself if you want to pick it up or move it.

Forget heated keyboards or fingerless gloves, if you want to keep your hands warm while using a computer, get yourself one of these! VERY effective heating solution for a small price!”

Lasko #100 MyHeat Personal Ceramic Heater
$20, Amazon

The Best Design-Friendly Ceramic Space Heater for Small Spaces

4.2 stars, 325 reviews
“I love this little heater! Firstly, it’s pretty adorable, and secondly, it heats up a room super quickly. I don’t find it to be overly loud, but if you’re comparing it to a radiant unit, there’s no contest. (Think fan, not hair-dryer volume.) I would add a thermostat to have it turn off at a particular temp, but not having one is normal on a heater in this price range. The mechanism to turn it off when tipped is super sensitive, in a good way—I won’t ever worry about a pet or someone’s kid knocking it over and burning everything I own. No hellfire equals five stars!”

Honeywell HCE200B Uberheat Ceramic Heater
$37, Amazon

The Best Ceramic Tower Space Heater

4 stars, 13,149 reviews
“This tower heater has a small footprint but packs a lot of heat. When you turn it on, there is an almost instantaneous burst of hot air. I have found the thermostat settings to be quite accurate. The room it is used in is 12 feet by 10 feet. It will warm this room from 63 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 20 minutes. The oscillating feature spreads the hot air around the room efficiently and quickly. The sound it produces is quite tolerable, barely noticeable when watching TV.”

Lasko 751320 Ceramic Tower Heater With Remote Control
$47, Amazon

The Best Space Heater for Large Rooms

4 stars, 13,149 reviews
“LOVE it … so much I’m considering getting a second one. It looks good, kind of retro like an old radio or receiver. It has temp control, so you only run it as hot as you wish. It produces enough heat to significantly warm up a room or area. It’s lightweight, so it is easy to move from place to place, and it has casters, so it can even just be rolled around. The small, rectangular size makes it easier to avoid having things too close to it, too.

Works perfectly, I couldn’t be happier, and it seems much safer than some of the older space heaters where you can really burn yourself by picking it up. This one has a nice power-off button and mode settings, so you can set it at, like, 70 degrees Fahrenheit and it will turn off when that temperature is reached. Perfect. Easy to shut off when you leave, too, because it shuts off immediately and begins cooling down, unlike older ones that stay hot for a while after, leaving you worried about fires.”

Dr. Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater, 1500-Watt
$103, Amazon

The Best Oil Space Heater

4 stars, 13,149 reviews
“The bathroom in the house we moved to doesn’t have heat (makes sense in New England, right?). It does have one of those ceramic vanity heaters, but it doesn’t work, and it can get quite cold in that room. I settled on an oil-filled heater because they do not get superhot, so children and pets or you won’t get burned if they come in contact with it, which was an important consideration since we have cats. I also liked the fact that they run silent, this one has automatic shutoff in case it overheats or gets tipped over.

We generally keep it near the tiled corner of the bathroom far away from water and unplugged when not in use. Break-in period was a couple hours, as instructed, and after about three hours, the smell was completely gone. We use it a lot in the winters. It makes that cold bathroom feel nice and toasty within 30 minutes. Sometimes it gets left on for hours while we’re around, and I don’t have to worry about it, although it’s never left on at night or unsupervised. We liked it so much we just bought another as a gift for a relative.”

DeLonghi EW7707CB Safe Heat 1500W ComforTemp Portable Oil-Filled Radiator
$71, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

The Best Gifts for Beauty Obsessives

The Best Gifts for Beauty Obsessives

by Katy Schneider @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening (is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?), but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that college student, or serious home cook, or Star Wars fanatic in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or, at least, a very helpful starting point. Today, 10 beauty obsessives on the gifts they want for the holidays.

“I’ll definitely be asking for the Drunk Elephant Vitamin C serum for Christmas (I can thank my sister for that). I swear by this serum—it helps so much with brightening and elasticity, but it’s a splurge.” —Harley Viera-Newton, designer (and Rio’s sister)

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum
$80, Amazon

“I would also love the Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream—I use it on everything. It’s incredible for helping out with dryness on your face, body, and lips throughout winter.” —Viera-Newton

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Skin Protectant Cream
$22, Amazon

“This is crazy, and something I’d never splurge on for myself, but I’d love another NuFace—this microcurrent facial-toning device that tightens your skin—so I can use it more consistently when I’m not at home.” —Lili Chemla, clothing designer

NuFace Trinity Facial Toning Kit
$260, Amazon

“I want the Pat McGrath Mothership II: Sublime palette because it’s the most luxe eye palette I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen them all. Normally with palettes, I only ever like a few shades and the rest sit there, unused for eternity. But this one has ten full shades that I actually want to use, both on their own and together. The packaging is insane, and while I’ve KonMari’d my entire life, this is one of those things that I just want to keep around as an object on display.” —Alexis Page, creative beauty consultant

Pat McGrath Mothership II: Sublime Palette
$215, Amazon

“Ever since Kim K ’grammed herself post–vampire facial, I’ve dreamed of sucking my own blood to reach Edward Cullen levels of youthfulness. I imagine the Dr. Barbara Sturm blood cream is like a daily visit to the fountain of youth.” —Cassie Coane, creative director

Dr. Barbara Sturm Face Cream
$249, Amazon

“Clearly, I’m obsessed with physically hurting myself to look better, as I’ve been obsessing over these Natura Bissé micro-needling patches. In my head, and most likely not in reality, they are a Velcro strip that will somehow fix my ‘laugh lines’ much better than the Dermaroller I use at home.” —Coane

Natura Bissé Inhibit High Definition Intensive Line Minimizing Patches
$440, Amazon

“I’m getting old, but I’m not old enough to afford nice eye cream, so I’d love to get this given to me as a present. A quartz roller is essentially a more luxurious version of the ice roller, which I swear by. It helps with redness and wrinkle reduction.” —Bo Hesslegrave, graphic designer

Natural Rose Quartz Double Roller
$45, Amazon

“I read in an interview once that actress Michelle Yeoh face masks every single day. For the holidays, I want sheet masks to the infinitum (the limit should not exist). I’ll take a re-up of my favorite ones from Korean brand Sulwhasoo, the highest-end line in the Amore Pacific beauty conglomerate, like La Mer to Estée Lauder. These sheet masks are made of such impossibly thin plant pulp that I don’t know how they don’t tear during manufacturing. The thinness really allows the masks’ fermented white ginseng (aged for two weeks!) to really sink into your skin and make you look like a dewy baby. These are fighting words, but I swear they’re better than the SK-II ones. A less expensive option are the Lancôme Génifique masks, which was a discontinued product that I swear was brought back due to beauty editor and MakeupAlley demand. The least expensive option would be any Peach & Lily mask.” —Kathleen Hou, Cut beauty director

Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Mask, 5 Sheets
$85, Amazon

Lancôme Advanced Génifique Collection
$112, Ulta

Peach & Lily Sheet Mask Set
$15, Barney’s New York

“I am obsessed with the idea of this mask since my two most trusted beauty confidantes—my sister and Rio—swear by it. I know it’ll change my life, I just can’t get myself to buy four masks for $200, so I would love it if someone else would.” —Alison Chemla, jewelry designer

Hanacure Multi-Action Treatment Mask Set
$200, Amazon

“I miss this cream every day of my life. I splurged on it last year (around Christmas time) and it was heaven. It’s a tiny container of gold-leafed, heavenly smelling perfection. My face had no idea it was even winter because my skin was smooth, hydrated, and brightened in a way it normally isn’t during the cold months. But it’s close to $400, so … Santa, please.” —Chemla

MBR Cream Extraordinary
$369, Rescue Spa

“The Dior rose lip balm, because it’s fucking amazing, and makes your lips look supple and soft. Diorshow mascara because it’s the best mascara out there, hands down. Diorskin nude air luminizer because all four shades are amazing, and it’s buildable, so great for day or night.” —Jessica Leigh, stylist

Dior Crème de Rose Smoothing Plumping Lip Balm
$80, Amazon

“I absolutely love all products from Santa Maria Novella, and I would love a skin-care treatment at Tata Harper’s new spa room at Bristol in Paris.” —Lili Barbery-Coulon, beauty blogger

Santa Maria Novella Exfoliating Water, 50ml
$55, Net-a-Porter

“The new Frédéric Malle fragrance called Promise, created by Dominique Ropion, the same perfumer as my favorite Malle scent, Portrait of a Lady. While I haven’t smelled it yet, I am intrigued by the combination of two varieties of roses, mixed with pink pepper, clove, and patchouli. I feel certain as a lover of POL that this fragrance will most certainly become a favorite.” —Troy Surratt, makeup artist

Frédéric Malle Promise Eau De Parfum 100ml
$392, Amazon

This article is published through a partnership with New York magazine’s the Strategist and Select All. The partnership is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change. Every editorial product is independently selected by New York magazine. If you buy something through our links, Slate and New York magazine may earn an affiliate commission.

That Magic Feeling

That Magic Feeling

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Mallory Ortberg, aka Dear Prudence, is online weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up below to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at prudence@slate.com.)

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

Q. What is “knowing” supposed to feel like?: I’m in a pretty serious relationship of a little over a year with a great partner. This is my first real long-term relationship. Sometimes when I’m with friends they talk about how they “know” the person they are with is who they want to spend their life with. I try to ask how they know, and they mostly say they “just feel it.” I don’t think I feel it, but I also have no idea what I’m supposed to feel. My partner is amazing and such a good match for me in so many ways. We’ve talked about marriage, but neither of us feel a rush.

Am I doing something wrong by staying in a relationship where I don’t necessarily feel this magical “it”? Or is there no such thing, and being happy is good enough?

A: One of the weird things about being a person is you don’t really have access to the inside of anybody else’s head. If people say something like they “just knew” they wanted to be with their partners for the rest of their lives but can’t offer much in the way of explaining what “just knowing” feels like, then you only speculate. Also, people often retroactively assign total confidence after the fact—if you’ve been happily married for a number of years, when you look back at the early days of your relationship together with the added benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to forget or dismiss moments of uncertainty. If you think your partner is an amazing person and that you two are a good match, and if you consider yourselves happy together, then I think you can safely say you’re in a good relationship.

Q. Do I give back the ring?: I lost my husband two years ago after we been married less than three months. He died in a motorcycle accident. I have had sporadic contact with his family since the funeral; they never really warmed up to me. There was also some ugliness when they realized that all my husband’s financials were put in my name after the wedding.

His younger sister is getting remarried and wants the wedding bands and engagement ring—they belonged to my husband’s grandparents. I still wear the wedding band. I am not 100 percent out there in the dating pool, but I have been trying to dip my toes. Should I give the rings back? Or maybe just the engagement ring? It hurts my heart to give up the signs of my marriage, but I don’t know if I have the right to hold on to them when I barely had him and they were family heirlooms.

A: You do have the right to your own wedding and engagement rings. The fact that your husband died unexpectedly shortly after you two were married is a tragedy, not evidence that you two weren’t “really” married or that you weren’t really his wife. If you would like to keep both rings, then don’t allow your husband’s family to pressure you into giving them up just because you were widowed. If you would like to offer one but not the other as a gesture of goodwill, then I think that would be extremely kind of you, but you’re under no obligation to do so. If nothing else, know that you have every right to keep anything your husband ever gave you—“family heirlooms” include you, as you became a part of your husband’s family the day you married him.

Q. Re: What is “knowing” supposed to feel like?: Just “knowing” is silly. People change a lot over the course of a lifetime. You can’t really know; you just take a leap of faith and roll the dice. Lots of arranged marriages work out great! And lots of people who “just knew” end up in a messy divorce 10 years later. If you’re truly happy and like to do stuff together, then you’re doing great. What you’re taking for granted right now is actually not easy to find.

A: Another vote for not feeling down about your own relationship just because you don’t have a magical, hazy, indefinable sense of “just knowing” about one another.

Q. Beauty is only skin deep: My 12-year-old daughter is not a pretty child. I know that makes me sound like a terrible parent, but it’s relevant to the question. I love her, and that makes her beautiful to me, but she doesn’t hit a lot of aesthetic markers for beauty. She has lots of other good qualities—academically, she is well ahead of the curve, she’s very compassionate, and she’s really a very sweet girl.

Her schoolmates, however, prefer to focus on her physical appearance, and there’s been some bullying this year. My wife always reassures her that the girls are just jealous, that she’s going to be more beautiful than any of them—the whole ugly duckling skit. However, I was an ugly little kid—there was a lot going on—and I knew it; I had a mirror. The lies my parents told me to comfort me just made me feel worse, because how terrible must it be to ugly that they’d lie to me about it? And every day I’d look to see if I’d finally grown out of it. Never did, but learned to work with it.

I want to start a new script, where we say it’s OK not to be fairy-princess beautiful at 12, that fashion and confidence can be more appealing than perfect hair, that she’s smart as a whip, and one day she can be pretty or not if she wants, but she’ll always be awesome. My wife hears that as “let’s just tell her she’s ugly and see what happens.” She thinks that our daughter believes she’s beautiful, and we just have to continue to repeat it.

Maybe she’s right? I know it’s harder for girls and women to be nonaesthetically pleasing in society. She could need us to tell her she’s beautiful and the other girls are just intimidated. It probably doesn’t help that my daughter looks a lot like a less-weird version of me at that age, so I might be projecting my needs at the time onto hers now.

A: I can cheerfully sign off on about 80 percent of what you’re proposing saying to your daughter. Tell her that she’s an awesome kid, that there are a number of qualities more important than perfect hair, that her confidence and sense of style are appealing and will serve her well in life, and that being super-gorgeous isn’t a sign of anyone’s intrinsic value or character. I don’t think you should speculate as to whether one day she may or may not be pretty; I understand what you’re trying to say there, but I don’t think it will do her much good to hear that from you. Your daughter already hears that she’s not attractive and that that’s not OK from her peers. What she needs from you is an alternative worldview—that while we live in a frequently image-obsessed society, it’s not the end-all and be-all of happiness and worth—as well as affirmation that she’s not an outcast or terrible to look at.

Q. Re: What is “knowing” supposed to feel like?: I “just knew” with my ex-husband. In retrospect, I should have “just thought about it a bit longer.”

A: It is interesting how often people will point to a vague, hazy feeling of “just knowing” when they talk about wanting to marry someone, but have no trouble getting specific and facts-based when they talk about wanting to get divorced.

Q. He told me I could look at his phone anytime: Then I did. There was a text from his sister that said, “Heidi x you = bad idea. She is a terrible person and you’ll get your heart broken.”

His sister barely knows me. She and I have met literally a total of about 12 hours. He and I have been together for five years, and yes, we have had some trouble, but we’ve had a lot of great times too. Both of us are in therapy. The texts, the phone—what is appropriate? I never want to see his phone again, but like a trainwreck, I’m finding myself drawn to it, wondering if there’s more toxicity about me on there. Will he defend me? He didn't that time. Is that his job? I want it to be.

A: I have so many follow-up questions, but I’ll do my best to answer your question with the limited information I’ve been given. The fact that you’ve spent a cumulative 12 hours with your boyfriend’s sister over the past five years, as well as the fact that you vaguely allude to “some trouble” between the two of you, suggests to me that there’s at least possible grounds for concern about your relationship. That doesn’t mean you have to agree that you’re a “terrible person,” but it’s worth investigating, as neutrally as possible, what’s happened between the two of you over the last five years that might give an outside observer pause.

Talk to your boyfriend about what you saw. What was the context for his sister’s warnings? What reason did he have for not defending you or your relationship? Do you think he agrees, in full or in part, that you are a “terrible person,” and if so, why are you two still together? Leave aside the fact that you two have had “a lot of great times.” That’s besides the point—the point is, do the two of you respect one another, can you communicate directly, and do you trust him? If the answer is no, then all the good times in the world won’t save your relationship.

Q. I don’t care!: A newish friend of mine used to work in an industry with a really strong macho culture, and now he often finds ways to shoehorn anecdotes from that time in his life into conversations about anything else. It’s his way of bragging. Is there a nice way of telling him I’m not impressed nor terribly interested in his hijinks one-upping the bros? And that he’s much more pleasant and interesting when he talks about his other interests and the rest of his life? We have a pretty snarky repartee, so I think if I were to be straightforward, he’d interpret it as sarcasm and maybe encouragement.

A: “You may not have noticed this, but when you bring up stories about your time working at [Boat Shoes and Toxic Masculinity, Incorporated], it feels like you’re bragging about a macho work culture that feels alienating and off-putting, and that doesn’t really represent the person I know you as now.” It would be hard, I think, to interpret that sort of observation as “sarcastic encouragement,” but if he meets you with a joke, I think you can make it plain that you’re not looking to wind him up but to talk honestly and openly about a certain form of exclusionary, performatively macho masculinity and how it affects people who don’t fit into its confines at work.

Q. Bathroom: My work station is right near the bathroom. The regular sounds of flushing and hand-washing don’t bother me, but I have two workers who are very loud. One is an old lady who just moans and groans like she is passing a kidney stone or giving birth. She is so loud that I have had clients on the phone comment about it. The second takes her cellphone into the bathroom and has private conversations all the time. She is extremely loud, and I can hear every detail—like her daughter cheated on her boyfriend and thinks she might be pregnant. It is embarrassing. I have told her she might want to go outside if she wants to call someone, as sound carries pretty well out here. She told me to mind my own business and no one likes an eavesdropper. I sit 3 feet away and can hear it through a closed door, and she screeches like a banshee.

It wouldn’t be so bad, but they do this every day rather than using the regular bathrooms downstairs. I feel I should record the noise from my desk and go to their supervisor, but I don’t know him well, and mine is useless. We don’t have an HR onsite here. Can you give me some advice?

A: Sometimes it can seem gentler to offer an indirect suggestion to someone at work rather than a direct request, but I think you’re experiencing firsthand the downsides to soft-pedaling. “I’m not trying to overhear any of your conversations, but I sit 3 feet away from the bathroom and can’t help but hear every word you say when you talk on the phone in the bathroom. It makes it difficult to speak to clients. Please take your personal calls where they won’t disrupt other people’s work.” If she dismisses you again, there’s no need to try to record her conversations—that’s not an appropriate response and, depending upon what state you’re in, may land you in trouble. Just take your concerns to your own supervisor (“useless” or not, he or she is part of the chain of command) before speaking to hers.

As for the older co-worker, I think you should take seriously the possibility that she does have kidney stones or is dealing with some sort of medical condition; there’s a world of difference between vocalizing involuntarily while in pain versus taking a phone call about your daughter’s love life in the bathroom at work.

Q. Girlfriend’s son age shock: I’m 24 and have been dating a girl, “Emily,” for about four months now, and I’ve never been more in love with a woman. I know it’s early, but I really think she is “the one.” Emily is 26 and was always upfront that she is a single mom with a young son. I haven’t met him yet, which seemed OK; I understood her taking time for us to meet. She talked about him a little bit, but I guess I wasn’t really paying that much attention when she did.

Emily lives with her mom, and I’ve been invited over for Christmas dinner. I wanted to get gifts for both her mom and son, and that’s when it came out that her son is 11 years old! I assumed that he was much younger than that, since Emily has a successful career and never mentioned that she’d been pregnant in high school. I’m not judgmental about that, but I never pictured being a dad to a kid this old. His biological dad is not part of his life, so I’d be his only father figure even though I’m only 13 years older than him. I don’t want to lose Emily, but I’m not sure about this. How can I become more comfortable with this idea? Is it possible that I will feel more enthusiastic after I meet him?

A: Emily is not asking you to become a father figure to her son after four months of dating. She is asking you to meet her son. It’s perfectly fine for you to feel anxious at the prospect of meeting him, especially when you pictured someone much younger but don’t feel like your next move has to be either “get ready to be a father to an 11-year-old” or “end your previously wonderful relationship.” The only task ahead of you is to spend a holiday meal together and to be friendly and welcoming. (Also, if you have a habit of “not paying that much attention” when your girlfriend talks about the age of her child, amend that habit as quickly as possible and work on your active listening skills.)

If you’re nervous or concerned, that’s completely understandable. If you have some questions for Emily, ask them, bearing in mind that she may not want to go into every single detail of her life as a single mother. You can share your fears with her. Don’t dump every thought that comes into your head upon her, but tell her that you’ve never done this before, that you’re not sure what to do, and that you want to be able to talk about what you want Christmas to look like as a couple. Be patient with yourself, keep an open mind, don’t make assumptions about what is and isn’t being asked of you, and talk honestly with your partner, and I think odds are good that you’ll have a lovely time together.

Q. My friend, the robot: I have been friends with “Clarissa” for 11 years. We currently live together with another roommate. For as long as I remember, Clarissa has been as empathetic as a rock—as in, not at all. She’s very pragmatic and logical, and while she tries very hard to be comforting, she sucks at it.

Our other roommate recently went through a breakup. After a few days, Clarissa attempted to comfort our roomie by saying, “He was a jerk anyway. I’m glad he won’t be around to use our bathroom anymore, ha ha!” Our roommate was upset by this, and it was cringe-inducing to watch.

Clarissa grew up as a child of (a nasty) divorce. She usually keeps her emotions to herself. I’m a very emotional person, and there are many things she does that concern me (for example, she won’t react to her feelings or if she does, later denies she ever acted emotionally). She’s a really warm person, but sometimes when trying to comfort or relate to people, she just seems cold. Is there anything I can say to her to help her?

A: If your roommate was hurt by what Clarissa said, then your roommate should say something to Clarissa about it. If you sometimes feel hurt by something Clarissa says or does, then you should say something to her about it, bearing in mind that your goal should not be “make sure Clarissa experiences emotions in the same way that I do,” but to honestly communicate what you’re feeling and what you need from her.

Mallory Ortberg: Thanks, everyone! May all of your camping trips this week be with willing companions.

If you missed Part 1 of this week’s chat, click here to read it.

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Fear in the Family

Fear in the Family

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week by signing up in the box below. Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

Got a burning question for Prudie? She’ll be online here on Slate to chat with readers Wednesday at noon. Submit your questions and comments here before or during the live discussion.

Readers! Ask me your questions on the voicemail of the Dear Prudence podcast. Just leave a message at 401-371-DEAR (3327), and you may hear your question answered on a future episode of the show.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I am a stay-at-home mom with a 2-year-old toddler. My husband has a 13-year-old son with his ex. We have a restraining order against her after she threatened me while I was pregnant. Right now, my stepson lives with us full time and only has supervised visits with his mother. He used to be a sweet, shy kid, but now I am afraid of him. My stepson has anger issues and is 6 inches taller than me. He has cursed at me, broken plates, and left holes in walls. I don’t trust him near my daughter. My husband is trying, but he can’t be home until 7 most nights. I leave the house with my daughter until he gets home. I don’t want to be alone in the house with my stepson. We are paying out of pocket for weekly therapy, and it is not working. I am tired. I am afraid. I am out of options. My husband is a good man and a good father, but I feel he is failing us in favor of my stepson. I want to feel the love I had for the little boy at my wedding, but all I feel is fear that the next glass he throws will be at my daughter’s head instead of the wall. I don’t know what to do.
—Frightened Stepmom

If you’re at the point where you have to leave your own home with your daughter every day until your husband gets off work, you’re right that what you and your husband have tried thus far isn’t working, and something needs to change immediately. I have sympathy for your stepson, who is still a child in need of counseling and support. Your husband must find a therapeutic intervention that provides him with the help he needs to communicate nonviolently. If your stepson is seeing a regular talk therapist, and it’s not helping, your husband should consider finding someone who specializes in anger management, behavioral intervention, and preventing violence. But in the meantime, your priority needs to be your daughter’s safety. If you have to remove her from her home for hours every weekday, then you need to find somewhere else to live immediately. Your current situation is destabilizing and dangerous for her.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I have more than once had sex, or gone further than I was really comfortable going with men, for the sake of preserving their feelings, or because I felt I had already taken things too far to back out. Almost all of my female friends have a similar story. How do I convince myself that I don’t need to have sex with someone to protect their feelings? And how do I find the words to politely end a sexual encounter after I become uncomfortable?
—Opting Out

Unlearning the message that you are responsible, as a woman, for making a man feel always comfortable is the work of a lifetime! The language itself is fairly simple and straightforward. There are dozens of ways to politely stop a sexual encounter: “Thanks for a nice evening, but I’m not feeling a connection, so I’m going to go home”; “I’m not comfortable with this anymore; let’s stop”; “I’m not coming in, good night.” The bigger problem, which you’ve already identified, is overriding the voice in your brain that says Oh my God, I couldn’t possibly say that, even if it were true. He’d be so offended, and I’d hurt his pride, and what if he tried to point out that I seemed to be having a good time earlier? I don’t want to get into an argument over this; it’d be easier just to go along for now and then leave as soon as it’s over.

Think of it this way. You sound like a sensitive and empathetic person—you would presumably not want to have sex with a man who actually felt uncomfortable and disinterested in sleeping with you, who was simply going along with you because he was anxious about hurting your feelings. If you found out that a man you were about to sleep with felt this way, you would stop immediately, because you would be wholly uninterested in having sex with a partner who was not genuinely enthusiastic. You would not want him to put on a good show, grit his teeth, and get through it. So treat yourself with the same kindness and generosity. I hope you find partners who cheerfully and graciously accept “Hey, this isn’t working for me anymore—let’s stop” as a normal thing to hear on a date. I hope you’re able to give yourself permission to stop a sexual encounter without feeling like you need to apologize or that you’re trying to break a lease before your rental agreement is up. Going on a date, flirting with someone, kissing someone, testing your chemistry—these aren’t links in a chain of events that leads to an irreversible “We have to have sex now” contract that you’re obligated to uphold against your own wishes, inclinations, and desires.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I’m recently getting back into dating after 11 years of marriage. The dating scene is very different than it used to be. I’ve been using an app to meet men because it seems like that’s what the kids are doing these days and I don’t have a lot of options to meet people in my everyday life. It just so happens that I’m really good at finding information about people, and as I get to know these men, I dig about to find out more. (My favorite is finding the DUI of a guy even though he’d never told me his name. I also discovered a guy was catfishing me.) I do it for a few reasons. First and foremost, it turns out that most men are full of it, at least those on dating apps. I want to weed out the people who aren’t worth my time. It’s also a challenge, and a delightful puzzle. Because I see it as a puzzle, I usually end up down a rabbit hole of information about these guys. I find their jobs, their homes, sometimes the homes they grew up in, Instagram accounts, Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds, and on and on.

My friends think I’m a bit stalkerish and that I should just let things develop naturally. I’d rather know ahead of time if the guy I’m chatting with is actually married with a 6-week-old. (That really happened.) What say you? Am I intruding on their privacy? I never cross any legal lines to find these things out. It’s all right there on the internet for anyone who’s willing to look. But I usually end up with a hell of a lot more knowledge than they’d probably be willing to share with me.
—Harmless Stalking Is Fun

You don’t need my permission to spend your spare time obsessively researching a bunch of men you already dislike until you find something that confirms your initial mistrust, if that’s what you really want to do. It sounds like a deeply unpleasant use of leisure time to me, but not everyone enjoys the same hobbies. The question isn’t whether you’re doing something right or wrong, exactly; you’re technically right inasmuch as all of this information is freely available. But this goes well beyond a quick social media search before a first date. The important question is: What are you getting out of this? You say that it’s like solving a puzzle, which is fine, but you don’t seem to be going on many dates, you’re not seeking out men you like and trying to get to know them better, and you’re not letting anybody get to know you. You’re staying at home, prowling into the corners of strangers’ personal histories, and then feeling satisfied when you find a reason not to trust them.

If this is fun for you, then by all means, keep doing it; you’re not actively hurting anyone and the primary person whose time you’re wasting is you. But if your friends seem concerned, and if you sometimes catch yourself wondering, “Why can’t I stop doing this?” then it might be worth asking yourself what you’re getting out of this behavior, and what it stems from—whether that’s a fear of dating, a belief that every man who expresses romantic interest is actually out to get you, or a burgeoning interest in a criminal justice career.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I just married my husband this summer after five years together. I had noticed that his relationship with his mother was not healthy. She consistently makes poor decisions, then expects both of her sons to swoop in and fix things. Two days after our wedding, she had a full-on breakdown. She threatened suicide if we left the city (we live across the country from her). We took her to the hospital, and she was put on suicide watch for three days. Since then, she’s gone to therapy but doesn’t seem to be changing her behavior or really giving the process a shot. She badgers my husband and his brother every day and is unable to make any significant decision without spending hours on the phone with one of them first.

She now has to move out of her current housing but refuses to live anywhere that is “below her,” and she changes her mind about where she wants to live more than once a day. She texts or calls her sons incessantly. My husband is at his wit’s end. But he refuses to seek out counseling for himself because he “doesn’t have the time right now.” I have offered to research options, and he says I should focus my energy on helping him with his mother instead. I am exhausted, and I can’t stand watching him let her walk all over him. I don’t know how to move forward, or how to get him to set real boundaries. He has tried, but she eventually wears him down, and he is so afraid she will end up homeless or dead if he doesn’t help her, he won’t listen to reason. Our first year of marriage has turned into a nightmare, and I just don’t know how much longer we can take this. Should I intervene with his mother? Are there resources for how to help family members stuck in these situations? She is more than just depressed—I think she has some kind of social disorder—but I can’t get my husband to accept the facts.
—Distressed Daughter-in-Law

Oh, my friend. It’s painful that your husband “doesn’t have the time” to see a therapist because he’s currently spending all of his spare time talking his mother down through one crisis after another—he has plenty of time, it’s just a matter of how he chooses to spend it. You married him knowing that he had no healthy boundaries with his mother, and you’re starting to see how that’s going to cause problems for you if you stay married to him. You can’t control your mother-in-law, and you can’t control your husband; what you can do is look after yourself right now. If she won’t take therapy seriously, and your husband refuses to go, then you can still make an appointment and start seeing someone right away.

Without going into detail about potential mental health diagnoses for your mother-in-law, I’m fairly certain that the help she needs isn’t for her sons to be on the phone with her nine or 10 times a day. Whether or not you’re able to persuade your husband to try something different with her, you can at least decide for yourself that you’re not going to dedicate multiple hours of each day to managing your husband’s relationship with her. A therapist will be able to help you find ways to set and maintain limits with him—and determine whether it’s possible for your marriage to be anything other than a nightmare.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I’ve recently become engaged. I’ve been a vegetarian for ethical reasons for more than 20 years, and my fiancé, while not a vegetarian himself, often eats vegetarian food with me. I’d like our wedding dinner to be meat-free, but my fiancé is very against this. He thinks most people will expect meat (his family is full of “meat-and-potatoes” types) and won’t enjoy the meal otherwise. I don’t want to serve meat at my wedding. I feel very strongly about this, but my fiancé thinks I’m forcing my beliefs on everyone and “taking away their choice.” It’s not like I want to pass out pamphlets or tell people what to eat at other meals—I’d just like to serve a meal that’s incidentally vegetarian and delicious. I’m not sure if it matters, but his parents are not helping pay for the wedding, it is mostly us and my parents. How do we resolve this?
—Animal Lover

I hope your fiancé isn’t normally this petulant, because asking your wedding guests to eat a single meal of lasagna (or pizza, or burritos, or any number of perfectly ordinary vegetarian dishes) is an awfully far cry from “taking away their choice” to eat as much meat as they like on any given day. You’ve been a vegetarian for more than 20 years; this long-standing conviction of yours should come as no surprise to him. It’s odd that on other occasions he’s eaten vegetarian meals with you without complaint or concern, but the idea of doing so on his wedding day feels like some sort of abnegation of his freedom. He (and any of your guests who wish it) can have bacon at breakfast, ham at lunch, and a vegetarian dinner in the evening without any harm to their constitution or serious restriction of their dietary choices. Yours is a very reasonable request, and your fiancé should let it go. There will be plenty of meat-filled meals in both his and your guests’ futures.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
My partner and I have been together for about two years now. In many ways, he’s everything I’ve ever wanted. He’s respectful, kind, artistic, and has a great sense of humor. About six months ago, we moved in together, and I’ve realized he’s lazy and irresponsible when it comes to household management. For the first few months, I did 90 percent of the housework. He had recently experienced an unexpected family loss, so I chalked it up to grief. However, things didn’t improve. I ended up making a chore chart to divvy up responsibilities, but I still find myself reminding him three or four times to do a task. And this isn’t minor stuff either. He sleeps in until 4 p.m. on the weekends (not due to staying up late), and often is late to work from oversleeping or misses work entirely. I worry that his forgiving employer will one day fire him on the spot, so I’m constantly urging him to get up and go to work. He is irresponsible with finances, purchasing parts and equipment for projects he never starts.

I’m tired of being his mother. In terms of chores, I either have to nag him incessantly or give in and do things myself. I don’t want to nag and intervene, but I feel compelled to since I care about him and want him to do well in life. I’ve tried talking with him about these things, and he genuinely seems to want to do better but says that disorganization and prioritization have always been issues for him. He says that his “brain doesn’t work” like mine does. If this is the case, I want to be sympathetic, but I still think he should seek help. His employer offers free therapy, and I’ve encouraged him to take advantage of that, since his problems are affecting his ability to achieve his own goals and not just my desire for a clean house. I really want things to work between us, since he’s so wonderful in other ways, but I’m tired of my efforts being unreciprocated. I don’t want to break up with the man I’m in love with over dirty dishes and an upswept floor.

My mom says that I should just deal with the chores myself, since I am the one with higher living standards. My friends say that I shouldn’t worry about his life being in disarray, since it’s his life to live and his mistakes to make. Are my concerns valid? Is this enough of a reason to break up with someone? I feel guilty since I advocated for the move, and I think our relationship would still be just fine if we hadn’t started living together. Furthermore, a breakup at this point would leave one of us without housing. Should I wait until the lease is almost up? Although I’ve brought up my frustrations numerous times, I don’t think he realizes how deeply this matters to me, and I think a breakup would catch him seriously off guard. I don’t want us to end up that way, but I’m running out of strategies and patience.
—Don’t Want to Be a Nag

It’s possible that your boyfriend is depressed—sleeping all hours of the day and having a hard time getting motivated even in the face of potentially serious consequences are certainly signs that he should speak to a doctor about depression. There are a number of other possible conditions that might cause your boyfriend to feel his “brain doesn’t work” like someone else’s, from ADHD to executive function disorder. I don’t mean to claim there’s definitely a diagnosis that “explains” your boyfriend’s behavior, merely that it’s worth speaking to a medical professional about in case there’s support or treatment he currently needs but isn’t receiving. Regardless of whether or not he has a diagnosis, however, you can still make decisions about whether or not you want to live with him. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to break up, either—it may be that living together just isn’t possible, but that you still want to continue your relationship and figure out an arrangement that works better.

I do not endorse your mother’s advice to just do everything for him and ignore your own feelings. That’s a recipe for resentment and eventual estrangement. Since you’re worried this is going to come as a surprise to him, I think you should revisit the topic: “We’ve talked about chore management in a number of little ways, but I want to make it clear that living together is not working for me. I’m doing 90 percent of the housework, and I either have to remind you to do your share multiple times before you get to it, or just do it for you. That’s exhausting and frustrating and it’s not how I want to spend my time. When our lease is up, I’m going to look for somewhere else to live.” If he wants to talk about making changes, that’s great, but I don’t think you should frame the discussion as an ultimatum, because he’s likely to make promises he can’t keep if he thinks it’ll get you to stay. You’re making the choice that’s right for you, and you can encourage him to seek professional help for the difficulty he has functioning on a daily basis. Whether or not he chooses to seek that help is up to him. Your relationship may be able to continue, depending on how you two can set your expectations for one another, but you don’t have to keep living with him (or like this) when it’s causing you so much distress.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

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Where Yinz At

Where Yinz At

by Matthew J.X. Malady @ Slate Articles

This month, Slate is republishing some of our favorite stories. Here’s today’s selection: Matthew J.X. Malady’s Good Word columns were a delight for dedicated linguists and word dabblers alike. This one from 2014 shed light on the verbal complexities and fascinations of Pennsylvania. Plus, Natalie Matthews-Ramo’s delightful illustrations will have you speaking like a Keystone State native in no time. —Abby McIntyre

The 4 hour and 46 minute drive from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh is marked by several things: barns, oddly timed roadwork projects, four tunnels that lend themselves to breath-holding competitions, turnpike rest stops featuring heat-lamped Sbarro slices and overly goopy Cinnabon. But perhaps the most noteworthy—and useful—hallmark of that road trip is all the bumper stickers that one spies along the way.

From Center City Philly to about Reamstown, it’s all Eagles and Phillies and Flyers stickers. Then there’s a 150-mile stretch of road where anything goes. Penn State paraphernalia, Jesus fish, and stickers about deer hunting mix with every other form of car commentary to create a hodgepodge that predominates until about Bedford. From there, it really is all Steelers stuff. And for those who make this drive fairly often, that bumper sticker progression serves as an old-school GPS. Of course, you’ll also spot stickers referencing cheesesteak lingo, as well as those emblazoned with “N’AT,” on this trip. And if you’re from out of state and decide to rest-stop query the owner of a car bearing one of those stickers, within the first few words of that person’s spoken response you’ll realize why linguists love the Keystone State.

Pennsylvania, in case yinz didn’t know, is a regional dialect hotbed nonpareil. A typical state maintains two or three distinct, comprehensive dialects within its borders. Pennsylvania boasts five, each consisting of unique pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar elements. Of course, three of the five kind of get the shaft—sorry Erie, and no offense, Pennsylvania Dutch Country—because by far the most widely recognized Pennsylvania regional dialects are those associated with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The Philadelphia dialect features a focused avoidance of the “th” sound, the swallowing of the L in lots of words, and wooder instead of water, among a zillion other things. In Pittsburgh, it’s dahntahn for downtown, and words like nebby and jagoff and yinz. But, really, attempting to describe zany regional dialects using written words is a fool’s errand. To get some sense of how Philadelphians talk, check out this crash course clip created by Sean Monahan, who was raised in Bucks County speaking with a heavy Philly accent. Then hit the “click below” buttons on the website for these Yappin’ Yinzers dolls to get the Pittsburgh side of things, and watch this Kroll Show clip to experience a Pennsylvania dialect duel.

According to Barbara Johnstone, a professor of English and linguistics at Carnegie Mellon University, migration patterns and geography deserve much of the credit (or blame) for the variety of speech quirks on display in Pennsylvania. A horizontal dialect boundary that roughly traces Interstate 80 spans the length of the state. The speech and vocabulary of those living north of that line of demarcation, she says, were influenced by those who migrated into the U.S. through Boston mainly from the south of England. “Whereas the people in the rest of Pennsylvania below that tended to come to the U.S. from Northern England and arrived in Philadelphia and other places along the Delaware Valley,” Johnstone says. “They came from Northern England and Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

Those living north of I-80 have historically used different words for certain things than those living in the southern half of Pennsylvania—pail vs. bucket, for instance. And the pronunciation of various vowel sounds north of the boundary doesn’t align with how those vowels are pronounced in other parts of the state. “Rot can sound, to south-of-I-80 ears, like rat,” she adds, “or bus, like boss.”

Settlement in western Pennsylvania began to pick up around the time of the American Revolution, and those who set down roots in the area—predominantly Scotch-Irish families, followed by immigrants from Poland and other parts of Europe—tended to stay put as a result of the Allegheny Mountains, which bisect the state diagonally from northeast to southwest. “The Pittsburgh area was sort of isolated,” says Johnstone. “It was very hard to get back and forth across the mountains. There’s always been a sense that Pittsburgh was kind of a place unto itself—not really southern, not really Midwestern, not really part of Pennsylvania. People just didn’t move very much.”

The result was a scenario in which—with some exceptions, such as the transfer of the word hoagie from Philly to Pittsburgh—the two dialects could develop and grow independently. Fast-forward 250 years or so, and people from Pittsburgh are talking about “gettin’ off the caach and gone dahntawn on the trawly to see the fahrworks for the Fourth a July hawliday n’at,” while Philadelphia folks provide linguistic gems like the one Monahan offered up as the most Philly sentence possible: “Yo Antny, when you’re done your glass of wooder, wanna get a hoagie on Thirdyfish Street awn da way over to Moik’s for de Iggles game?”

He deciphered the easy elements—like “Antny” (Anthony), “hoagie” (submarine sandwich), “Iggles” (the Philadelphia Eagles)—before transitioning to the more upper-level material. “We have this very unusual grammar quirk with the word done,” Monahan explains. “When you say ‘I’m done’ something, it means the task is done. The rest of the country would say ‘I’m done with my water.’ But if I say ‘I’m done with my water’ in Philadelphia, that would mean I’ve had some, and I don’t want to finish the rest. If I say ‘I’m done my water,’ that means I’ve drunk all of it. They mean two different things.” 

That’s not really the case anywhere else in the country. There also aren’t many places, he adds, where people refer to someone named Mike as “Moik” in conversation. “That ‘oi’ is what I would call the defining Philadelphia sound in the way that the Philly accent is today,” Monahan says. As for “Thirdyfish Street”? That’s “Thirty-fifth Street” to you and me. Philadelphians often replace “th”s in words with other sounds, though, and “everything just winds up getting all blurred together.”   

According to University of Pennsylvania linguistics professor William Labov, the Philly dialect represents a tug of war between the city’s connections to, and influences from, different parts of the country. “I think Philadelphia is torn between its northern and southern heritage,” he says. The result is a regional dialect that combines many influences to form a one-of-a-kind manner of speaking. And, he adds, it’s a way of speaking that has become a source of pride for many residents. Labov is currently working on a project at Penn that involves interviewing students who have graduated from Philadelphia high schools to determine their perceptions about Philly. “Most are very positive about the city and see themselves staying in Philadelphia,” he says. “As far as the dialect is concerned, only a few points have become self-conscious. For most of Philadelphia, the general attitude is quite positive.”

Across the state, in western Pennsylvania, Pittsburghese has developed over time into a badge of honor for locals—something akin to a spoken symbol of blue-collar toughness and tradition. Notoriety on the dialect front gained steam when linguists began visiting the area in the 1930s and ’40s, providing scholarly support for the notion that Pittsburghers had developed a unique way of talking. Around the same time, Johnstone says, interactions between those from Pittsburgh and people from other parts of the country during World War II resulted in a more broad recognition of the phenomenon. Things really picked up during the 1960s, as more linguists focused on the region and newspapers began running pieces on elements of the dialect. The publication of Sam McCool’s New Pittsburghese: How to Speak Like a Pittsburgher in the 1980s represented the first time that someone had detailed for a mass audience the sounds and words that make up the dialect, and it provided thousands of displaced Pittsburghers a way to reconnect with their home town. (Many of them moved to other states when the local economy tanked.) The widespread use of personal computers during the years that followed meant that people all over the world could discuss Pittsburghese at any time, and the topic now garners more attention than ever.

But as the national and international buzz about the distinctiveness of both accents increased, so did the number of young people from the state’s two largest cities who decided to attend college far away from home. As familiarity with various unique elements of Pennsylvania’s dialects reached an all-time high, the influence of those dialects on younger generations was challenged.    

“You learn really fast when you first show up [to college], because, particularly if you’re a freshman, you’re an undergraduate, you’re the new kid on the block and you don’t want to stick out,” says American University linguistics professor Naomi Baron. “If you look at the history of broadcasting in this country, when broadcasting went national, one of the things that happened is there were handbooks written for national radio broadcasters on how to eliminate the regionalisms from their speech so that they would be understood across the country. And in a sense that’s what a lot of people do when they come to college today. They drop what they assume are going to be the regionalisms.”

Pittsburgh native and nj.com sportswriter Dom Cosentino is one of those who left the Steel City for an out-of-town college. That school, La Salle University, also just happened to be in Philly. It was a rude awakening. “I had no clue about any of it—that Pittsburgh people even talk a certain way—until I moved away,” he says. “Almost immediately I noticed I talked differently, and I noticed other people talked differently. They would kind of make fun of the way I talked, or the way I’d say certain words—I was calling my ‘mawm’ instead of my ‘mom,’ and that kind of thing.” In a very short period of time, Cosentino says, he went from being “Dawm” to “Dom.” “I wouldn’t say that I went to a full-on Philadelphia accent, but it wasn’t long before I was coming back to Pittsburgh and my friends were sort of making fun of the fact that I didn’t talk like I was from Pittsburgh much anymore.”

Baron sees that same scenario play out year after year on campus, with the net impact being thousands of dropped accents. Of course, some regional language quirks may return if and when students move back to their hometowns after college. But many won’t. So, extrapolating over the course of 20 or 50 or 100 years, does that mean the Philly and Pittsburgh dialects are destined to disappear? And will our contemporary propensity to communicate via text rather than speech speed that decline?

First, the good news: According to Baron, who is the author of Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World, all the time we spend emailing and texting and tweeting and IMing doesn’t portend the downfall of distinctive regional dialects. She has been teaching for a “number of years, including pre-personal computers and post, and before all the new technologies that have come in the last five to 10 years,” Baron says. “And what’s really clear to me is that the technologies aren’t having any influence at all on dialects.”  

We may speak less to one another these days, but when we do speak, Baron says, we talk pretty much as we have in the past. And those conversations are now more likely to occur in environments that are welcoming of accents and strange names for things and unusual pronunciations. “As the world gets more internationalized in so many ways, we don’t notice things like accents the way we used to,” Baron says. “Day to day, we see so many people who speak so many versions of English. We don’t judge people nearly as much, and therefore people are free to speak the way they have spoken, including with regional accents and dialects.”

A March New York Times piece titled “The Sound of Philadelphia Fades Out” appears to serve as a wet blanket to Baron’s optimism about the persistence of regional dialects. The article cited a 2013 University of Pennsylvania study for the proposition that “the Philly sound is conforming more and more with the mainstream of Northern accents.”

But if you talk to William Labov, who co-authored the study, you’ll get a decidedly less fatalistic perspective on the trajectory of the dialect. He refers to analysis of sound and speech changes as “a game of musical chairs,” and suggests that making broad pronouncements based on shifts in one element of a dialect is probably not a good idea. “Philadelphia is maintaining its local dialect, and developing in new directions,” Labov notes. “I would say that the dialect is in pretty good shape.” Monahan agrees. He says the Times piece is too simplistic in its summation of the linguistics involved. “Certain vowels are getting less strong over time,” he notes, but “others are getting stronger.”

Johnstone is quick to point out that the Pittsburgh dialect—and how people perceive it—is constantly evolving. She notes the increased national attention garnered by the word jagoff during the past few years (“If you’re an outsider, you don’t know whether or not it’s obscene”), and the development of the “yinzer” persona as a common stereotype. “It seems to be getting used for a particular kind of working class person—male or female, but usually male—who is kind of loudmouthed and maybe not quite so smart and has all the stereotypical characteristics of Pittsburgh: has never moved away from home, loves the Steelers, loves to party, likes to drink beer,” says Johnstone, adding that widespread use of the term only really began around 2000. “It’s both negative and positive. It’s both mocking and also something that people orient to.”

Twenty years from now, though, yinzer might be used to describe someone who has moved away from Pittsburgh, and by 2040 “Thirdyfish Street” may have morphed into “Thirfistree.” This year’s jagoff may be next year’s gutcheez. Or, as Johnstone notes, all those words could fall out of use altogether. The history of language tells us that almost nothing remains static or lasts forever. “It’s a fact about language. This process has been going on forever. What happens is that there are new ways of speaking that develop.”

And, according to Labov, those new ways of speaking will give us new things to fixate on and gab about. As we grow familiar with certain publicized hallmarks of a given dialect, those elements tend to dissipate, only to be replaced by other unique language strains that often show some connection to what came before. “When people become aware of particular sounds, it’s like throwing a monkey wrench into a car,” Labov says. “It’s going to bang up part of it, but the rest of it will go on its own way. And the car runs.”

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