Shared posts

31 Jul 22:10

Ask Lilly: Can I Put My Sex Toy in the Dishwasher?

by Lilly

DishwasherFor people with a lot of dildos and butt plugs, there’s a really fast way to sanitize your sex toys: The dishwasher. But this cleaning method isn’t as straightforward as it seems! There are some rules and tips that must be followed, but first I want to talk about something important: sanitizing versus sterilizing and how your dishwasher fits into it. Sterilizing means that you are killing ALL living organisms, whereas sanitizing is killing “most” – enough to make things safe for public consumption. When we are talking about cleaning, there’s cleaning (removing dirt and fluids and cat hair), then sanitizing, then disinfecting, then sterilizing. To understand more about this, read this article on sanitizing and disinfecting, and this article on disinfecting vs sterilizing.

Not All Materials Can Handle It

You want to stick with sex toy materials that can handle the heat – silicone, metal, and borosillicate glass (not soda lime!!). You shouldn’t put the more delicate (porous) materials like softened PVC, TPR, “jelly”, rubber, or other similar  materials into the dishwasher, as they wouldn’t be able to withstand the heat from the sanitize cycle (not that I believe it would work, anyways, because I don’t believe those materials can ever be sanitized). Which brings us to the next important point…

It’s Not About Cleaning, It’s About Sanitizing – Which isn’t Sterilizing or Disinfecting

If your toys are covered in dried lube, bodily fluids, etc then give them a quick wash with mild soap and water, first. Next, load your sex toys into the top rack. Finally, make sure you choose the “sanitize” setting on the dishwasher. Don’t have a sanitize cycle? Then don’t bother using the dishwasher. If your dishwasher has a sanitizing setting then it uses an extended hot-water rinse to kill bacteria only – it will not kill viruses or fungi. The National Sanitation Foundation has a standard named NSF/ANSI Standard 184; this means that dishwashers with this certification kill 99.99% of bacteria on this “sanitize” setting. This certification states that the dishwasher’s “sanitize” setting also must reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit during that final rinse. I expected it to be higher, so this means that boiling can potentially kill more things. Even if your dishwasher has a “sanitize” setting, if it isn’t certified then it probably doesn’t reach 150 degrees. Using the dishwasher is primarily to sanitize in larger quantities, rather than just cleaning. If you’re using the toys solo and aren’t currently battling an outbreak, a mild soap and water wash in your kitchen sink or bathtub will do the job just fine in my opinion. Let’s also consider this point: using the “sanitize” setting on the dishwasher uses a lot more energy than a normal dishwasher cycle.

Never Use Detergent

Dishwasher detergent is abrasive and you really don’t want it mingling with your sex toys. This means that the sex toys don’t get tossed in with your dirty dishes, either. One reader asked me about adding a bit of bleach to the cycle, instead: I don’t recommend this. It’s not needed plus many dishwashers advise against it – heated bleach, even if it’s not heated to boiling, is pretty caustic. 

Vibrators Stand Alone

Sorry vibes, you can’t join this party. The heat of the sanitize cycle will probably damage the electronics, even if the vibrator is sealed in silicone and is labeled “waterproof”. It’s just not a risk I’m comfortable telling you to take.



Copyright 2008-2014 Dangerous Lilly - If you see this content anywhere other than valid feed readers, it's been scraped illegally and without my consent. If you see this on someone else's blog, it was scraped illegally. RSS feeds are still my property - scraping them is still illegal and a violation. Copyright violators will be hunted down and beaten with a spiked metal ball. But since they're stupid and will include even this portion, I might as well invite you to my real sex blog where you can read about sex toys and get to know me.


The post Ask Lilly: Can I Put My Sex Toy in the Dishwasher? appeared first on Dangerous Lilly.

03 Aug 15:04

Voting Libertarian? I hope you or your kids never get sick

by Dr. Jen Gunter

My thirteen-year old boys had an appointment this week. When we were done the provider who normally chats with me in that provider-to-provider way abruptly changed the conversation to tell me he finally deciding who was getting his vote. I was expecting this to be the lead in to some new Donald Trump joke. However, he showed me a map of the electoral college on his phone with several states in orange and said, “Libertarian, I’m voting Libertarian. That’s the future.”

I looked at him as my kids hovered in the door wanting to leave because there were Pokemon to catch. It took me a few second to realize he was serious. He pressed on about Obamacare not working (which I take as code for premiums being outrageously high) and what did I think?

I explained my views on Obamacare. That if health care reform is a ladder with 100 rungs Obamacare is the first rung. It is far from perfect, but at least it moves us in the right direction. That I understand political change and true reform is a long game. I used my standard go to reference for imperfect documents, the Constitution. If it were perfect when it were written we would have no amendments. We didn’t re write the whole thing each time an amendment was needed.

He was unconvinced and shook his head. The Libertarians, he argued, had a better way,

I told him his vote was his right and that I was voting for Hilliary. And then I added, “If your guy is elected I hope you never get sick.”

He looked taken aback. ‘”What?”

I pulled Oliver into the office. I asked if one day he needs heart surgery, like Oliver will again, will he have saved enough to pay the bill or is he just going to roll the dice with a charity hospital or perhaps fly to India?

“Well, Obamacare isn’t that great, is it?” he countered not answering how he would pay for a heart vale replacement.

At this point I pulled both boys back into the office and explained that their care combined was well over one million dollars in the NICU. Since then heart surgeries, intensive care units stays, and home oxygen. If this were a Libertarian health care system no insurance would have covered them. They’d have crafted a way to get out of it, by preexisting conditions or caps on costs per condition. I’m a doctor and I couldn’t have afforded the care they needed to survive. In countries without regulated health insurance parents have to pay in advance or their children don’t even get admitted to the intensive care unit at birth. Even if I’d sold my house when they were born and had a robust health savings account I’d have been bankrupt by the time they were five or six weeks old.

His answer, “Maybe we shouldn’t be saving those kids.” He looked embarrassed that he’d said it.

I wasn’t shocked or angry. That is the only logical conclusion under a Libertarian health care system. I knew that, so I wanted to make sure he did too.

He got flustered and muttered something about still being his patients. I told him I didn’t hold it against him, and walked off absolutely bewildered that someone with a graduate degree in health care could think that voting for a Libertarian was good for his own family. I honestly believe it is because people have bought into the Libertarian lies about health care or that they think it’s some kind of protest vote against the cost of health insurance, but if you are going to vote Libertarian you should understand exactly what that means next time you get sick.

Th Libertarian myth is that health care was awesome in the 1960s because doctors made house calls, a hospital stay only cost a few days pay, and there were charity hospitals. I’m not being tongue in cheek, those words are lifted directly from their web site. Yes, relying on charity is part of their plan.

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 7.20.38 AM

doctor and doll-1This is just false. Health care was too expensive for many in the early 1960s, especially for the elderly, who often spent their life savings on their health. That is why Medicare was introduced. No one would have introduced Medicare if everything were perfect. That’s not how governments work. 1960s medicine was only Norman Rockwell if you could afford it. In a 1963 survey 25% of people said they did not see a physician because of chest pains, 40% said they didn’t see a doctor if they had diarrhea for five days, and 35% of people with shortness of breath did not consult a physician. In 1963 the rate of hospital admission was 15% with private insurance and 9% for those without. By 1970 the rates had equalized to 13% due to Medicaid and Medicare. And charity hospitals and clinics? Well, ask doctors who have worked in them if that’s their ideal health care. I’ve worked in free county clinics and it’s patch work by dedicated professionals doing their best with little or no resources. It’s not health care, it’s health suboptimal care.

Comparing cost of care today with the 50s and 60s is ridiculous. Sure, we have too much bloat in the system and I’m eager to fix that, but keep in mind in 1959 a heart attack was managed with an EKG and nitroglycerin and oxygen. Now we have blood tests to diagnose heart attacks, medications to dissolve clots, 24 hour a day monitoring, angiography, stenting blocked vessels, and coronary artery by pass grafting. None of that expensive care existed in 1959. What about prematurity? Babies born at 34 1/2 weeks had a 40-50% chance of survival. At 26 weeks babies like mine were just wrapped up and left to die. If their mothers were lucky they got to hold them as they died. Guess when doctors starting thinking maybe they could cure some cancers with chemotherapy? Late 50s/early 60s. Obesity, a big driver of health care, was also much less prevalent.

Of course it was a cheaper and more efficient system in the 50s and 60s. The poor didn’t come in for care and none of today’s expensive care existed to offer those who did! People also walked more because there were no four car families and didn’t eat the junk food we had today.

The Libertarian party has these three ideas for health care:


Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 7.40.02 AM
Excellent. Don’t get cancer. You won’t be able to pay for it. Same goes for heart disease and premature deliveries and just about any chronic care. Maybe you’ve saved really well, but then your mom falls and breaks her hip. She doesn’t have the $30,000 to pay for the surgery because she used all the money to pay for your dad’s chemo last year. Do you say sorry mom and let her die, even though the surgery could give her another 15 or so years, or pay for her care and then hope your kids don’t get sick while you build up your funds again? Hip surgery in this situation is best done within 48 hours so you don’t have a few weeks to think on it. Tick tock, what do you decide? The Charity hospital is full.

Let’s say I had been able to come up with the $1 million to get my kids through the intensive care unit, after he was discharged Oliver had 10 admissions for pneumonia (two to intensive care units), two heart surgeries, home oxygen, physical therapy and occupational therapy. Never in several lifetimes could I have saved enough money for his care.


Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 7.44.08 AM

Mandating coverage for specific disabilities and disease protects people because insurance companies love to not cover expensive care. That’s why they invented preexisting conditions. Cancer is expensive let’s drop that! Oh, and Pap smears why pay for that? We don’t cover cancer anyway, so hope they’ve saved up! Prematurity? Well, there’s a $100,000 cap on that. Mental health? Great, we pay $25 a visit find a provider of your choice! Can’t find a psychiatrist to take that? Oh, sorry.

Mandates exist because most health insurance companies are trying to not pay for expensive care. The free market has already shown us what will happen without government oversight. Pre Obamacare if you had a preexisting condition coverage was inadequate at best. Who knows what a free market might decide, maybe obesity will become a preexisting condition and eligibility and rates will be calculated based on body mass index (BMI)?


Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 7.53.21 AM

Sure the FDA has all kinds of issues, but a free market wants to do the bare minimum in studies. Drug companies are already not releasing unflattering studies with the regulation that we have, so you really think this will get better with less regulation? I can’t even validate this propranolol reference. Propranolol has been on the market since 1965 and generic as long as I’ve been a doctor (since 1990). I’m not aware of any 10-year delay in modern health care with this medication.

As for the real value of regulation I’ve got a one word for the Libertarian party, thalidomide.

Health Care the Unites States is Far From Perfect

That is about the only thing I agree with when it comes to the Libertarian party platform, however, the idea that people can get good medical care in a completely free unregulated market is a lie. We know this because it didn’t work  in the 1960s. We know this because in countries with little access to health insurance the poor go without basic health care and people get what they can pay for up front. A free market isn’t going to reduce the cost of by pass surgery and four days in the hospital to $500 (which I might add is a lot of money for many people).

If we had Libertarian health care system in 2003 when my children were born one or both of them would be dead. My health insurance was shitty, even as a doctor working at a University. Medicaid covered close to $500,000 in intensive care unit costs alone. In a Libertarian country they would have looked at our insurance and asked for $100,00 or more up front for each child and if I didn’t have the cash they wouldn’t have received care or they would have been transferred to an over worked charity hospital that often ran out of medications and had 30 year old ventilators.

The Libertarian platform on health care is either woefully under researched, a sad fantasy, or a willful attempt to camouflage the callousness that it represents with 1960’s nostalgia and buzz words.

If you’ve voting Libertarian you should know that.


Kangaroo care

> $250,000 just to get to this point in the NICU

10 Aug 17:48

What we can learn from Jehovah’s Witnesses about obstetrical violence and autonomy during pregnancy

by Dr. Jen Gunter

imgres-1Many years ago when I was the most junior person on the team I sat on the hemorrhaging wound of a person who was a Jehovah’s Witness. She  was literally bleeding to death. I was medically the least helpful person so I was the human sandbag as the gurney flew down the hallway towards the operating room pushed by a surgeon and a resident. Before the woman lost consciousness she was asked again about the document she had signed on admission saying no blood under any circumstances. This wasn’t hypothetical, she would die. She said, “No blood.” Those were her last words. We never made it into an operating room. I couldn’t understand how someone who could easily have been saved by blood could have turned it down. It was a hard lesson in choice.

This week Caroline Malatesta won a $16 million dollar verdict in a lawsuit about patient choice and obstetrical violence. It is challenging to discuss the medical issues of the case with the limited information presented, but suffice it to say you have to try very hard as an obstetrical unit to mess up a 4th delivery. But whatever may or may not have been medically indicated doesn’t matter, because if a patient doesn’t want the intervention or was coerced into it then the intervention wasn’t merited. If we as obstetricians think a c-section has almost a 100% chance of saving a baby’s life at 38 weeks (for example, anterior placenta previa with a back down transverse fetal lie) if the pregnant woman doesn’t want the c-section she doesn’t get it. This is because women are sentient beings, not baby making vessels.

I want to be clear there are amazing OB/GYNs, and wonderful nurses, and well trained midwives, and incredible hospitals and unfortunately cases like the one presented above tarnish everyone with the same brush. However, there are also issues. 

Some doctors, nurses, and hospitals are steeped in patriarchy and believe patients should just accept what they are offered. This is not limited to the delivery room. I still wonder about my elderly mother’s hip surgery. She wouldn’t hear anything from me about what to ask. Her doctor knew best. It turned out horrifically wrong in almost every iatrogenic way imaginable and so I am left wondering what if I have pressed for more information and options?

Many health care professionals have bad communication skills. There are times I have been referred a patient who turned down a procedure that I felt was indicated and when I explained it she changed her mind.

Some American OB/GYNs don’t have more traditional OB skill sets. When I moved here I was the only one at my medical center doing vaginal breeches, forceps rotations, and vaginal twins that weren’t vertex/vertex. Many residents and nurses had never seen forceps used or a vaginal term breech. If the only tool you have is scalpel that’s what you use. Doing more c-sections affects how much one-to-one nursing care you can provide if you are not staffed accordingly. And of course, more c-sections means more repeat c-sections or more VBACs. In a 2009 survey 26% of OBs said they stopped offering VBACs because of malpractice concerns. VBAC rates began to fall in 1998, so unless the tide is turned at some point once a c-section always a c-section or a rogue home delivery will become the rule.

Some obstetricians and OB nurses are anxious or have questionable training or cave to staffing pressures. They rupture membranes early or get women pushing far to soon. As soon as the labor curve stalls many feel the pressure to do something, especially if the unit is already overflowing with women in the hallway. Some are too aggressive with oxytocin and yet some are not aggressive enough.

It is never medically correct to hold in a crowning head, never mind for six minutes. How did that happen? Hospital policy? Inadequate training? Rogue nurse? A nurse who had been screamed at before by a doctor for letting a multiparous woman deliver before the doctor arrived? The doctor’s policy? This one event requires a root cause analysis before you even get to the issue of consent. A women or her delivering baby will not be harmed if she is on a flat, soft surface and her baby delivers spontaneously. We typically catch babies or guide them out, so if they slide onto the bed unassisted that is okay. Obstetricians sometimes miss deliveries. When that happens we apologize, check if the placenta has delivered, and then do a repair if needed. 

Many labor and deliveries are understaffed. Continuous fetal monitoring has done nothing for saving babies and has raised the c-section rate, yet it’s standard because it takes skilled one-to-one nursing to do intermittent fetal heart rate monitoring correctly. It’s easier to rupture the membranes and put on a scalp clip. (If a patient is obese this may be the only way to monitor the baby, but I’m going to confine the discussion to the things that happen to low risk women). However, if you don’t do electronic monitoring and there is fetal compromise you will be sued for not doing it. How is that for being between a rock and a hard place?

Speaking of lawyers, did you know John Edwards successfully argued that a woman in labor can’t give consent? Basically if you don’t badger and twist a woman’s arm to have the intervention you think she needs you are negligent. Over 90% of OB/GYNs have been sued at least once during their career and the average number of times an OB/GYN is sued is 2.7. One third of obstetrics claims involve a neurologically impaired infant and 49% of these claims are lost (meaning money was paid). Two-thirds of OB/GYNs change their practice in some way because of risk of fear of litigation and I bet none of these changes involve less intervention.

So here we are. A system that does a pretty good job in high risk situations, but an over medicalized, legal complex with pockets of inadequate training for low risk pregnancies.  I don’t think the answer to better medical care for women is more lawsuits, I think we need to learn from Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Doctors are sometimes wrong about patients needing blood. I have seen Jehovah’s Witnesses survive with blood counts we thought incompatible with life. Jehovah’s Witnesses have pushed us to be more careful with blood loss in the operating room, more conservative with transfusions, and even driven technology such as cell savers. After all, blood is expensive and not without risks. However, sometimes you really do need a blood product to live so a few Jehovah’s Witnesses who refuse blood products will die and others will have a more prolonged and difficult recovery. The fact that doctors don’t get sued for following these wishes helps us follow them, but we are trained from the start that an 18 year old of sound mind gets to choose their medical care. 

It took a while for doctors to abandon the patriarchy, listen to patient’s requests, learn some new things, and be brave enough to watch a very few people die who might have lived. Why can we not use this model for competent adult women who are pregnant?

I envision a world were every woman is given a package at the beginning of her pregnancy with a list of the procedures that could happen. Episiotomy, electronic monitoring, scalp clips, c-sections, forceps, antibiotics. The document would be very in depth and include ACOG recommendations and the reasons for and against interventions. Individual OBs could add in what they feel is best practice. The language can be specific, here is one example:

Episiotomy for shoulder dystocia – rarely after the baby’s head delivers the shoulders get stuck and the baby cannot be delivered. This is an obstetrical emergency. There are very specific maneuvers that doctors must do with their hands inside the vagina to dislodge the baby’s shoulders. Sometimes these procedures can be easier with the additional space that an episiotomy provides. Do you consent to an episiotomy in a shoulder dystocia? Yes   No

There are people who will be okay with everything or nothing at all and there will be people who are very specific about what they want just as there is with blood.  It will all be in writing up front with time to think about it and ask questions. If hospitals/doctors/nurses promise to follow them and don’t they should be sued. If hospitals/doctors/nurses follow their patient’s wishes and the outcome is bad they should not be sued. It will not work if the legal system can’t be aligned correctly.

When I practiced obstetrics I was fine with intermittent fetal heart rate monitoring, but hospitals must be upfront about what they can offer and that also means being upfront with their doctors, nurses, midwives, and prospective patients. A doctor can give a patient a package and say they are fine ordering intermittent fetal heart rate monitoring if everything is progressing and is low risk, but what if they get assigned a nurse who wants continuous monitoring or the nurse is covering three patients and isn’ t staffed to do intermittent monitoring, then what? Right now some patients are either forced to have excessive monitoring that they don’t want or labeled as adversarial when then decline. Fixing the system can’t happen unless the hospitals come to the table too. 

Might some women regret their choices? Yes, a few will. Once when I was a resident I heard about a case where a woman had a signed birth plan that said, “Under no circumstances, even if I ask, do I want an epidural.” Several hours into labor she was begging for an epidural and her husband asked if the team could just ignore that part of the birth plan. The anesthesiologist was called, read the document, and declined to place the epidural. He told me that he could easily have been sued if he placed it as she was under duress. I heard that she regretted her decision bitterly throughout her labor and delivery, but the next day she was over it. Would she have been over it the next day if the anesthesiologist had agreed to place the epidural?

What about fetal compromise and fetal demise? A few babies will die or be compromised, but I suspect it will be far fewer than most obstetricians think. I’ve had a dead baby myself and I do not wish that on anyone. I accepted every intervention in my pregnancy. I would have regrets if I had done less. However, I heard of a woman who was badgered into a c-section because of several fetal compromise. It took 15 minutes of hard core press to get her to change her mind. By the time consent was obtained, the anesthetic was given, and the abdomen was opened it was too late. I heard that she was most upset about the consent and feeling violated. I don’t understand that, but that isn’t any different that not understanding a dying person refusing blood on the grounds of religion.

There was a UK review of 15 fetal deaths due to home deliveries. Thirteen were high risk that should never have been delivered at home, yet the women chose to deliver there because they feared interventions. The midwives knew they were high risk and didn’t want to abandon them. Has it come to this that high risk women have to hide out at home and risk fetal death? We don’t ask Jehovah’s Witnesses not to bother to coming to the emergency department if they are hemorrhaging, we ask them to come to the hospital and then we do our best to give them care within the boundaries of their wishes. Why can we not use that model in obstetrics?  Women get choices with their bodies, whether we agree with them or not doesn’t matter. I often don’t agree with my patients’ choices and that’s okay because they are not my choices.

It will take what happened with Jehovah’s Witness to make the change. Patients, doctors, hospitals, nurses, midwives and the government coming together (the government so doctor’s and midwives don’t get sued for following patient wishes). Midwives also should be required to have malpractice insurance, because that is a big source of conflict between OBs and midwives. It’s very easy to not offer interventions when you don’t risk being sued.

It’s not just civil litigation that doctors and midwives should fear. They and their patients must also keep an eye on the criminal system. A woman was charged criminally in 2004 for not having a timely c-section and 38 states have fetal homicide laws. Midwives have been charged criminally for home deliveries that resulted in neonatal death even when the mothers said the home deliveries were what they wanted. An unlicensed midwife is a different story. If you are not appropriately trained I don’t think you can give informed consent. However, if a woman is appropriately informed of her risk and accepts that risk could she or her obstetrical team face criminal charges if a declined intervention leads to a fetal death? We know the intent of these laws (typically murder of a pregnant woman) does not stop them from being abused by zealous prosecutors.

I am convinced we can learn from the Jehovah’s Witness experience with blood products and that medicine and the legal system can work together to honor patient choices. Maybe this case will push us in that direction.

The rule in medicine is first do no harm and in obstetrics that rule applies first to the mother. We shouldn’t need lawsuits to remind  us of that. 

12 Aug 11:45

This "wacky wallpaper house" in Minnesota will assault your eyes with patterns galore

by Megan Finley
Oh look, here's another good example!
Oh look, here's a good example!

Did you know there was a time when the fanciest way to decorate a room was to match your fabric to your wallpaper?

To this day, I can't figure out where my mom got all the bedspreads and curtains that perfectly matched our bedroom wallpaper. Did they come from the same store? Did she just happen to stumble up on wallpaper patterns so AMAZING that fabric manufacturers stole them and created all manner of products with the same pattern? I don't know (I should probably ask my mom). But this home for sale in Minnesota in the paradigm of that matching wallpaper and fabric movement…

Brace yourselves: A pattern explosion is coming.

Here is the entry way. It almost lures you into a false sense of nor"meh"lcy.
Here is the entry way. It almost lures you into a false sense of nor"meh"lcy.
But the next thing you see is THIS, and you're "whoa... wtfnow?"
But the next thing you see is THIS, and you're "whoa… wtfnow?"
It's hard to have wallpaper in a kitchen... unless you put it on the ceiling!
It's hard to have wallpaper in a kitchen… unless you put it on the ceiling!
But OF COURSE the dining room has the same wallpaper as the kitchen. What is one without the other?
But OF COURSE the dining room has the same wallpaper as the kitchen. What is one without the other?
Don't think FOR A SECOND that the chairs in the den won't match the wallpaper in the kitchen and the dining room. Because THEY DO.
Don't think FOR A SECOND that the chairs in the den won't match the wallpaper in the kitchen and the dining room. Because THEY DO.
Here's a perfect example of matching wallpaper and bedding.
Here's a perfect example of matching wallpaper, window treatments, and bedding.
Hey, you can also mix it up -- match the wallpaper to the draperies and the bedskirt!
Hey, you can also mix it up — match the wallpaper to the draperies and the bedskirt!
Bathrooms were not immune to this treatment either.
Bathrooms were not immune to this treatment either.
So were offices. (Side note: I truly do love that coffee table.)
So were offices. (Side note: I truly do love that coffee table.)
Even the laundry room! LEAVE NO WALL UN-PAPERED!
Even the laundry room! LEAVE NO WALL UN-PAPERED!

Recent Comments

  • Laura: The stuff nightmares are made of. It makes me feel so claustrophobic. [Link]
  • Carole: Upon further reflection, I think Meemaw did this when Paw was away on a fishin' trip and when Paw saw… [Link]
  • TheBonnieBunnies: I doubt that's the result of a professional decorator gone wild by themself. Judging by the picture of the older… [Link]
  • TheBonnieBunnies: The sun room makes me claustrophobic. I half expect the ceiling fabric to turn into a swarm of bees or… [Link]
  • toad22: I just wonder if they told a decorator to do it, and then came home & went, "Ummm...well....I guess we've… [Link]

+ 23 more! Join the discussion

09 Aug 20:45

#891: “My neighbor has decided that he is the boss of me.”

by JenniferP

What. A. Fucking. Prick.

Hello Captain Awkward,

i live in a building with 4 condos, all on the board. our current president and wife are retired, while the rest of us are all 30- or early-40-somethings. He wants to be involved in everything, despite thinking the rest of us don’t do enough, and treats us like an office where he is the manager, rather than us being neighbors and equals. usually i tune him out, but he emailed me the other week and again today about untangling an issue with our bylaws, dating back to before my husband and i became owners, and which will certainly take months to resolve. I volunteered to do this when it first came up in January, but at the time, he asked me to hold off (a new neighbor had just moved in). Now, i am 8 months pregnant, prepping for maternity leave and transitioning to an unexpected promotion, during my office’s busiest time of year. i work all day and work more every night at home, plus there are things to get ready for the baby. when i said I was busy and asked if this really needed to be a ‘right now’ kind of thing (as opposed to the fall) since we’d already waited 6 months, he started talking down to me how at 8 months pregnant, his own daughter handled more than whatever i have going on, and he knows better than me how i will be busier after the baby so he would “appreciate it” if i would just do what he “requested” and work on this right now. even implied he had a right to insist because I should have already gotten this done ‘in a timely manner’ (forgetting his earlier request). i don’t know whether to just say something non-committal to mollify him while still having no intention of working on this until after my kid is born (probably fueling his martyrdom), or to try continue to calmly explain why i hadn’t done it already and that while i appreciate his concern, it’s simply not possible for me to add another thing to my plate right now, but that like i said, i’d be happy to begin in the fall since this is a long term issue–my MIL will be helping a lot and while i’ll be tired, i won’t have to spend 12-15 hours a day on a computer. Or should I be honest how upset I am by this conversation and his presumption, especially since he still hasn’t given any condo-related reason for wanting this done now? If i tell my husband how much this escalated, he will be angry and definitely shoot off an inflammatory email. i know the neighbor’s a cranky old man and i would prefer to not have an adversarial relationship when it’s such a small group, but I’m pretty offended myself.
frazzled almost-mom

p.s., emails pasted below so you can see what I mean.

5:22 PM (19 hours ago)
to me

I know you have a lot on your mind at the moment, but I’d appreciate it if you would follow through and find out the procedure for changing by-laws. You’re busy now, but , take my word for it, it will only get worse. Thanks, [neighbor]


8:05 AM (4 hours ago)
to [neighbor]
Hi [neighbor],

yes, i honestly am pretty busy right now, given that it’s the last month of the pregnancy, and i’m trying to do all of my current work as well as prepare for maternity leave and a new job at my company, and get the house ready for the baby! what was the timeline you were thinking about for this? we first talked about this about 6 months ago, so i didn’t think it was urgent when you mentioned it again recently.

8:22 AM (4 hours ago)
to me
Yes, I know you’re busy. I have a daughter who was 8 months pregnant with twins, was working fulltime and had to clean out the over-stuffed apartment of her recently deceased mother. So I’m sympathetic with your situation, but not overwhelmingly so. I’m acting as de facto managing agent for the building. No one else pays much attention to whether the building gets painted or whether we have a place to put the garbage. I’m not a power-hungry type who revels in the role. I expect others to pay attention at least some of the time. So please just honor my request. Thank you

8:29 AM (3 hours ago)
to [neighbor]
Hi [neighbor],

i’m just wondering why this has become urgent right now, given that we’ve already waited 6 months since it first came up?

8:48 AM (3 hours ago)
to me
I just have to turn the question around and put it to you: Why have you waited six months to get around to taking care of this? When someone says they will do something I expect them to do it in a timely manner. I imagine you have the same expectations. And let me put this in perspective for you: You’re not busy now. You’re going to be busy the minute the baby is born, and that will last a long, long time. Parenthood is great; relaxing it ain’t. Cheers


p.p.s. the other units don’t even know he wants this done. 

Dear Frazzled,

This guy is such a patronizing shitbeard. Thanks for including his emails, they really make the whole thing.

If it is easier to handle the thing than it is to further antagonize him (like, the effort of dealing with him and explaining yourself is honestly greater than the effort it would take to do the thing), and if the change is in the interest of and has the buy-in of the other residents (big if, if they don’t even know it’s happening) quietly knock out the thing on your own timeline.

If he continues to antagonize you, you could send oneI’m sorry, after you told me to hold off when (neighbors) moved in, I definitely misunderstood the urgency of this project. Bottom line is: I won’t be able to make this a priority until after (date), so, if it’s important that it be done now, time for a plan B” email to him, but given the level on contempt on display in his messages to you, you might just skip that step and drag this one out into the sunshine and off of your plate entirely. To do that, send an email to the whole board/everyone in the building:

“Hello, everyone. Back in January, I volunteered to handle ( bylaw issue), but at (Neighbor’s) request, we held off until (Nice New Residents) bought their place and settled in, and it’s been on the back burner since then. (Neighbor) kindly reminded me that this still needs doing, but sadly I am not going to be able to get to it until sometime next year. Since it’s so important, I wanted to let the board know so that you can get it on the next meeting agenda and make an alternate plan. My notes/progress* are attached if they’ll assist someone in picking this up from here. Thanks!”

*If you have the email where he told you to hold off, DEFINITELY include it somewhere in your “notes” that you send everyone. Definitely. Look, I try really hard not to antagonize people, especially people I have to see & deal with all the time, ESPECIALLY people who share a roof/wall with me, but sometimes the “Oh, forgive me, I must be mistaken, because based on our last email (helpfully attached), I thought that (the opposite of this bullshit you’re trying to pull) was true. How would you like to handle this going forward? (So thoughtful of you to CC (our entire team)(both of our bosses) so I don’t have to type the addresses in myself)” email can be a thing of beauty and peace on earth.

This is not only the easiest way for you to handle it (by getting it off your plate and getting him off your jock) it’s the right thing to do since the other owners will need to sign off.

In the meantime, I would stop replying to him utterly about this topic and definitely stop giving him reasons why you can’t do it. You’ve told him that you can’t do it, why you can’t do it, and now here you are, where reasons are for reasonable people and private back-and-forth replies are for annoying you and making you mad but without getting anything done.

He’s trying to shame you for not doing what he wants you to do, when a) He is not the boss of you or of the building b) He’s the one who told you to hold off, and he won’t answer your question as to why it’s so important now, so he’s wrong on the fucking facts AND being a bully c) In professional life, when you know you’re not gonna get to something, the right thing to do is to admit it and kick it back to the team so that the work will get done. His way only works if you feel/accept the shame he’s trying to hand you. If you politely tell the whole building, “Hey, I’m so sorry, I know I said I’d handle it, but I know now that I won’t” you remove his lever to manipulate you and you also make his bullying emails about his daughter who is better than you in every way go *poof.*

His martyr complex is sadly *poof*-proof, but it can grind on someone else for a while. Maybe his daughter, clearly the greatest parent/condo association member of all time (OF ALL TIME) would enjoy hearing about it. He gets to quietly think that you’re unreliable (even if he’s incorrect), you get to quietly think that he’s a pompous asshole (correct), and as long as it all stays quiet and isn’t filling up your inbox every day, that sounds pretty okay. I hope all goes well with your busy late 2016.



03 Aug 14:29

Look, I got a sex toy manicure (at Finger Bang!)

by Epiphora


Sex toy manicure from Finger Bang! Featuring dildos, vibrators, kegel balls, a butt plug, and a harness.

[Top: Ryder, Pure Wand, Magic Wand Rechargeable, Mona 2.
Bottom: Luna Beads, Joque, Mustang, Seduction. Photo by my boyfriend!]

In the past, there was no option for me to enshrine my favorite objects — sex toys — on my fingernails. For one, I bit my nails ravenously until about 4 years ago (obsessively painting them helped me stop). Also, I feel like most traditional nail salons would not take kindly to a request for such “lewd” designs, and my life is just so lewd.

But now there exists a place called Finger Bang. Aside from having a name that is irresistibly fun to say in front of your in-laws (after which you shrug nonchalantly and go “what? That’s what it’s called”), Finger Bang is open until midnight to accommodate folks with non-traditional schedules and lives. They are known for their incredible hand-drawn designs, and they are no strangers to obscenity. Hell, the owner has stated that she wanted Finger Bang to be a place where she wouldn’t have to worry about anyone being “offended if I was talking about getting fucked in the ass the night before.”

This week I’m traveling to Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, and I knew it was time to finally experience this glorious place — and to entrust them with my dream manicure.

Sex toy manicure from Finger Bang! Featuring dildos, vibrators, kegel balls, a butt plug, and a harness.I began plotting my sex toy choices with a friend about a week ago. “Obviously,” I began, “Pure Wand and Mona.” From there, I figured I wanted some toy type diversity (definitely kegel balls and a harness, in addition to dildos and vibrators), and some material diversity (wood, for sure). Only my most favorite toys were eligible for immortalization, although some had to be vetoed because they “just wouldn’t look cool,” such as the Stronic Eins, Touch, and Eroscillator. I printed out pictures of all the toys I wanted, including back-up toys in case some were too complex.

I was nervous going into my appointment. Not because of the sex toy aspect, but because Places of Femininity always make me feel like a fish out of water. One time I neglected to bring my own nail file to a salon and got some serious stink eye from my manicurist, like, what, aren’t you a WOMAN, why don’t you KNOW this woman thing? But Finger Bang’s atmosphere was far from average — buzzing with conversation and adorned with Star Wars figurines and TV screens playing The Shining. Oh, and the door had a decal warning racists, homophobes, and assholes to stay away.

My nail artist Brittany was not surprised by my sex toy design requests, although she told me she had yet to do any “adult” nail art on anyone. (Apparently some people go in for mystery manicures and tell her, “please, no vaginas or dicks!” — as if that were the default.) Complicating matters was the fact that I wanted specific toys, not generic toys like any old rabbit or a set of anal beads. She worried some of the toys I chose were too simple, but I reassured her they’d be instantly recognizable to the people who matter.

The manicure took a while to complete — about 3 hours — but most of my time was spent in awe of how any human can paint such tiny things with such tiny brushes. I chose a minty base color that happens to match one of my pairs of Converse, with a few glittery accent nails. What do my thumbs saySheVibe, of course, who are sending me to Woodhull once again this year. What did my girlfriend get on their nails, meanwhile? Pokémon, obviously.

With tip, this manicure cost about $100. But LOOK AT IT, clearly it is worth that price. Look at that butt plug pinkie nail. Look at that peeking-in Hitachi. It’s fucking awesome. Gel manicures are supposed to hold up for weeks, and so far it’s lasted a full day of wrenching open sex toy packaging at work, so I feel hopeful. At the very least, I am going to have the most relevant manicure at Woodhull, and anyone who can name all the toys on my fingernails will instantly be my pal.

© Epiphora. This post, "Look, I got a sex toy manicure (at Finger Bang!)," appeared originally on Hey Epiphora. If it is posted outside of valid feed readers, it is a copyright violation which has been scraped illegally. Please email hey.epiphora [at] if you see this happening.

01 Aug 14:56


by mark

As a long-time fan of both audio books and getting stuff for free, I often look towards such awesome services as LibriVox for free, public-domain books. When I can’t find anything interesting (which is becoming more frequent), I typically purchase something newer from Audible,, etc.

I did discover OverDrive, a fairly well-known service that is closely linked to local public libraries across the country, but have been continually disappointed with it for a number of technical reasons, either on my end or theirs. While searching for alternatives to OverDrive, I discovered a newer, very similar service called Hoopla.

Like OverDrive, Hoopla is linked to the public library system. I thought I’d give it a try. Six months later I haven’t looked back. Signup for Hoopla is free, but since this service is linked to the public library system, you’ll need to register at least one valid library card. If you or a family member are members of multiple public libraries, you can register all of them and have access to any content in any of the libraries for which you are a member.

Hoopla offers audio books, movies, music, eBooks, Comics, and TV shows. Just like the library, you are limited in how many items you can check out (6 per month), and the number of copies of any item is limited to the number allocated to the particular library you are utilizing. If all copies of an item are checked out, you can reserve a copy and you’ll be notified when one is available for checkout. I’ve been impressed with the content available, noting several best sellers appearing the same month they were published. Of course, you may well have to reserve copies of the more popular items, but when I signed up I immediately found (and checked out) two items that were already in my Audible wish list.

So far I’ve only checked out audio books, but I’ve had no issues with listening to them either through my browser or on my iPhone. I always make it a habit of looking at Hoopla first before purchasing from Audible. As a result, I’ve had to temporarily suspend my Audible account because I’m accumulating credits faster than I’m spending them. That’s a good thing.

-- Tad Ghostal

Hoople (Free)

Available from Amazon

01 Aug 11:45

How my silicone wedding ring represents marriage as a whole

by Tara
Silicone wedding ring by Thunderfit
Silicone wedding ring by Thunderfit

Marriage is hard guys. No one who's been in it for more than a couple of months is going to tell you differently.

Now don't get me wrong, I love being married. I married young, and haven't (really) regretted it once. But the marriage and the life that I have today is very different from the one I would have envisioned when we walked down the aisle and exchanged rings of gold almost five years ago. Especially considering the events of the last six months…

I had a breakdown in April. After months of mood swings and panic attacks, depressions so deep and dark that suicide seemed like the inevitable light at the end of the tunnel, and days spent hiding out in the bathroom at work to cry, or vomit, as needed, I finally accepted that something had to change. I quit my high-stress, well-paying job. My family doctor recognized how seriously ill I was, and referred me to a psychiatrist.

I was unemployed and broken. My self-esteem was shot. And soon I had a name for the monster inside of my head: Bipolar Disorder.

I felt like a burden of a wife. I felt like I had pulled a terrible con on the man I loved; I thought that had he known how defective I was from the start, he would never have married me. I felt like a monster. Suddenly instead of plucky Jane Eyre, I was the terrifying wife in the attic that eventually burns the house down.

But my husband did something amazing. He loved me. He accepted me. He held my hand when it all felt like too much. And, on my good days, he helped me live life to the fullest. He never judged me when I was too depressed to move for days at a time, or when mania took hold and suddenly all of the furniture in the house was rearranged by the time he returned from work.

He did admit that things had changed. He did admit that he too had pictured something different for this stage of our life. But he also did everything he could to make me understand that I was not alone. That whatever my life was going to be, he was going to live his right alongside me.

With medications and therapy I'm starting to do a lot better now. But it is an uphill battle, and one that I am likely to be fighting to some degree for the rest of my life.

We went for a drive the other night, up a mountain road to a beautiful look-out. I looked my husband in the eyes and told him I loved him. I thanked him for all he had done over the last several months, and I gave him a new wedding ring.

This one is silicone, and I have one to match. They are flexible, as we now know that we have to be every day in a marriage. The are comfortable, as marriage should be. And most importantly, they never have to leave our fingers; whether we are at work or at play, they can survive it all.

I still have my original gold wedding band, but my silicone ring now seems so much more of a real representation of marriage to me.

Recent Comments

  • BethB: Just wanted to say how impressed I am with your strength and resilience. I hope your husband continues to improve.… [Link]
  • Alex: Fit Ring™ Silicone Wedding Rings have a unique pi logo (part of the formula for a circle like a ring)… [Link]
  • Tara: Thank-you for sharing your story. As terrible as it is for the person in the midst of a mental health… [Link]
  • Dreamdeer: I have a bipolar husband to whom I have been married for 31 years. I have my own struggles… [Link]
  • Rinnie: oh man did this hit home for me today. But coming from the other end--we recently found out my husband… [Link]

+ 1 more! Join the discussion

29 Jul 20:55

How to Shop for Solar Power: Solar Panels, Inverters, and More

by Mark Smirniotis



With solar power, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Every installation needs to take into account electricity consumption, geographic location, roof orientation, local permits, and a host of other issues. This guide walks you through those concerns and how to decide whether to DIY or to hire a contractor to install and manage your system. Once you have a rough idea of how much power you’ll need, in most cases the first option you should consider is a grid-tied system made up of Suniva Optimus 335W monocrystalline solar panels paired with SolarEdge P400 power optimizers, plus a SolarEdge inverter at the heart of it all.

26 Jul 17:43

Vegetable Keep Sack

by mark

Being an avid home cook in New York City, having space to work is more important than any tool (except maybe a good chef’s knife). Finding these hanging vegetable keep sacks from design-savvy cookware company Mastrad was a revelation and meant I had at least one drawer freed up.

I’ve had mine hanging under the cabinet for two years, and they keep potatoes, onions, and other root vegetables dry, dark, and out of the way. The design is simple: a canvas tube, lined with cotton, with a filling drawstring at the top and a dispensing drawstring at the bottom, slightly angled to keep the tubers from dumping all over the floor.

I belong to a CSA, so for a few weeks in the fall, I am absolutely swimming in potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, and shallots. If I had the space I’d create a root cellar, but one (or a few) of these sacks keeps my roots from sprouting or getting moldy for weeks. The internet is swarming with cutesy containers to keep potatoes, but loose baskets, modular plastic, and bulky burlap don’t keep potatoes in the darkness they need. There are bins you can build into the sides of cabinets, but as a renter, it’s key that I can screw in an anchor, hang the colorful bag for all to see, then easily take it down to refill it or when I move.

They’re cheap, washable, and come in three sizes (with illustrations of potatoes, onions, and garlic, respectively, but free to be you and me) As a cook in a small kitchen, I lust after big mixers and expensive gadgets, but I am grateful for my potato sacks.

-- Sam Roth

Vegetable Keep Sack ($11)

International Amazon link

Available from Amazon

28 Jul 11:45

How do you explain that your fur baby is more than "just a pet"?

by Offbeat Editors
Fur baby mug by Etsy seller PURELeecreations
Fur baby mug by Etsy seller PURELeecreations
With a heavy heart I waited for the mobile vet to come and put my fur baby to sleep.

She had been by my side for thirteen years — my rock, my best friend, my baby. She has been the best dog, the biggest comfort, most loyal friend and such a gentle soul. She has been with me through four breakups, the start of a marriage, and several job changes and mini life crisis.

I chose not to have human children and instead to have the four legged furry kind. A lot of people have a hard time understanding for me she is not just a pet she is FAMILY.

Most of the time I can choose to ignore the people who say "it's just a dog." But, after losing my fur baby, I cannot ignore them anymore. How do I accept their caring when they don't get it? How do I help them get it? Or should I even bother to try? -Ducky

Recent Comments

  • Cat: I know what you mean, but as you say, hear the spirit of what they're saying even if it's clumsily… [Link]
  • Jill: This so much. There will always be someone who minimizes your grief, no matter what the source.… [Link]
  • Brink: It's like George Carlin said "When you buy a pet, you're buying a small tragedy." It SUCKS when a… [Link]
  • dee: I think a lot of folks (including myself) never thought a fish could be operated on. [Link]
  • Cat: A life is a life. I don't get why some people decide one life has more value than another just… [Link]

+ 43 more! Join the discussion

27 Jul 15:31

Erin Gilbert, Abby Yates, and Ghostbusters as a Love Letter to Female Friendship - "We're all the ghost girls now."

by Grace Duffy

Ghostbusters Kristen Wiig

One quote immediately came to mind after I saw Ghostbusters for the first time: “friendships between women are often the deepest and most profound love stories.” I thought of it again after reading a Hadley Freeman piece on the film, in which she wrote that for her, “there is little sense of connection between the women here.” This comment took me by surprise. For all that I expected widespread differences of opinion on this film, this take seemed so far removed from my own thoughts that I was a little stunned. Of course, no film can please everyone, but regardless of one’s take on Ghostbusters as a whole I would have thought there was one thing we could mostly agree on: this film is a love letter to female friendship. In a film which has no romantic subplot, the friendship and connection between Abby Yates and Erin Gilbert is given the kind of significance most stories reserve for two people falling in love. Their bond is central to the way the film unfolds, and it provides a beating heart of emotion which captivated me completely. Spoilers follow.

Not unusually for an onscreen relationship, this one starts off in noticeably frosty place. Erin (Kristen Wiig), on the cusp of tenure at Columbia University, is angry to discover Abby (Melissa McCarthy) has been selling a book they authored together without her permission. She goes to confront her immediately, and there is the unpleasant sensation that this might become a rivalry or ongoing rift. In a lesser film, it might have. But Ghostbusters turns this expectation on its head straight away. Abby is frosty when she sees Erin, but her resentment isn’t born of Erin’s success or accomplishments. Rather, she’s resentful of the fact Erin turned her back on her to get to where she is. As we later learn, this is someone Abby loved and supported for years; for Abby, this betrayal was personal. From her perspective, Erin abandoned her and their work–not to mention the book she describes as their “baby”–and after what may well be years with no contact, she now finds her former friend marching in with an attitude not unlike that displayed by their detractors.

It’s interesting to note that Abby, when she first introduces Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) to Erin, immediately describes the eccentric engineer as “very loyal.” The two share in-jokes and an adorable clapping ritual before setting off on their latest hunt. Holtzmann is flamboyant and charming, and she and Abby have an obvious bond. Next to this united front, Erin cuts a lonely figure, all awkward uncertainty and hesitation. She’s alone and unsure of herself while her former best friend suits up with a new partner. It may be fitting, then, that of all the lead characters, it is the nervous, halting Erin who gets the most prominent arc– and that arc only truly begins when she and Abby mend their broken friendship, starting with an embrace outside the Aldridge Mansion.


Their embrace, midway through a jointly euphoric response at seeing Gertrude Aldridge’s ghost and capturing her on film, is more than a celebratory gesture. It’s validation of something they’ve been fighting to convince others of for years. The moment is emotional for Erin, as her gushing reaction into the camera makes clear, but Abby’s not immune either. This is a cathartic moment for her, as she sees Erin begin to shuffle off the sense of shame surrounding their work and emerge newly invigorated. As a character, Abby has a gorgeously protective instinct and it’s one which resurfaces after this moment. Erin’s frenzied reaction costs her the job she’s longed for, but now she has somewhere to go. She comes back to Abby and Holtzmann in the same lab she entered with a sense of trepidation the day before, and finds a sanctuary. Abby shares condolences at the loss of her job but instantly asks Erin to join them in their work. She offers her a safe place, sympathetic ear, and an opportunity to work on something she knows Erin is passionate about. It’s a symbolic reestablishment of the haven she once brought to Erin in school.

This dynamic infiltrates the group as a whole, and watching it evolve is heartwarming. After Patty (Leslie Jones) joins the group and Erin opens up about her childhood, you can feel the bonds solidify. Erin speaks quietly and sadly of how she was haunted by a ghost as a child, revealing that her parents didn’t believe her and her classmates made fun of her. She was sent to therapy and forced to deny what she saw. The real-world parallels here are almost unbearable–women are so often conditioned to deny the truth and validity of their own experiences that they end up questioning their minds, voices, and sometimes sanity. Erin’s hesitation in telling this story is palpable. She’s been burned before and even after everything the group has been through in the preceding few days, it’s still a difficult and emotional subject for her.

When the others accept her story, instantly and without question, it’s poignant. Patty immediately tells her she believes her. Holtzmann lightens the mood with THAT infernal wink, .gifs of which should really be banned for inflicting cruel and unusual punishment on all who see them. Wonderfully, Abby’s protective instincts kick in too –  when Erin says they were never invited to parties in school, Abby quickly retorts that it was because all the other kids were terrified of them. The atmosphere is warm, joyful, and welcoming. Even at this early stage in their work together, the women’s firm belief in each other is tangible. Holtzmann takes them outside for a delighted demonstration of her latest inventions. Patty provides a car, uniforms, and offers valuable historical context for the buildings they’re investigating. (Seriously, I would listen to two hours of Patty telling us the creepy histories of old NYC landmarks. Please take note for the sequel, Paul Feig.) All our heroines begin to blossom in this jubilant atmosphere, and Erin in particular finally finds the strength and confidence to overcome the last lingering shadows of her past.


I love that the climactic moment of this film involves a woman rescuing her best friend. Erin and Abby disagree at various points even after mending their friendship, most notably when they get a visit from paranormal debunker Martin Heiss (Bill Murray). Erin is still extremely sensitive to anyone questioning their work, so much so that she unleashes the ghost they’ve just trapped against all of Abby’s fervent protestations. When they’re carted off to the mayor’s office, she and Abby argue over whether to “put the cat back in the bag.” None of her colleagues attack her for this. There’s a sense of understanding even when they disagree, fueled by an appreciation of what they’ve all been through. But Abby, perhaps more so than anyone in the group, is trying to be pragmatic. She’s the one who sets up the website, makes fliers, and looks to provide a service to other people. She’s the de facto leader, reminding everyone what they can do, and in the final battle shoves Patty out of harm’s way only to be dragged into a vortex herself. When Erin instantly throws herself in after her, it’s a symbol of how much Abby means to the others. She’s spent the entire film propping up those around her, and now, finally, it is her oldest friend who comes to save her. When Erin looks her in the eye and says “I wasn’t going to leave you twice,” it’s an emotional and candid admission of how important Abby is to her. It banishes any remaining doubts over their friendship in a moment that’s reserved for the two of them alone. When Patty and Holtzmann pull them out and eagerly embrace them, it’s just the icing on the cake.

Abby and Erin’s friendship may be the central element which anchors the movie, but the bond it celebrates isn’t confined to them alone. The film evokes the uniquely familial bond which forms between many female friends, and the gratification that comes in finding a home away from home. Patty leaves an isolating and largely thankless job to join the Ghostbusters. In her first scene, we see her attempting earnestly to be friendly and helpful, and being mostly ignored for her efforts. She is, quite literally, shut off behind a glass barrier. In the Ghostbusters, she finds a haven of like-minded souls. She doesn’t have a scientific background, but her intelligence and insight is made clear from her first observation about their office building. Her word and input is never questioned, and she is ultimately the one who figures out how to close the vortex and save New York, to Abby’s vocal delight.

leslie jones ghostbusters

And if, somehow, all of this went over the audience’s heads, Holtzmann’s toast at the end makes all of these feelings abundantly clear. Holtzmann  is exactly the type of adorably kooky oddball who shines onscreen but might struggle to find her people in real life. Her little speech is moving in its tenderness and sincerity. You get the impression sentiment doesn’t come naturally to her, but in that moment, as they all look around and take stock of what’s happened, she needs to express something. Something about that intangible feeling of connection that comes from being with your people, a connection you can’t predict, manufacture, or explain; it’s just something that happens when you’re not looking or expecting it. Sometimes, you meet certain people and things just click into place. Such, as Holtzy notes, are the unknowable physics of the universe: what it means to love, and the indescribable and incomprehensible magic which fuses us so irrevocably to other people.

This magic is what lends Ghostbusters its power. For a film so derided from its very inception, Paul Feig and Katie Dippold’s decision to frame it around female friendship was a stroke of genius. In doing so, their story elucidates the importance of solidarity for women everywhere. In acceptance there is comfort, and in support there is strength. The Ghostbusters’ story is a powerful symbolic statement to their many detractors and disbelievers, both onscreen and off. There are many aspects of the film with which one may take issue–this thoughtful piece, for example, outlines a young woman of color’s mixed feelings over Patty’s role. The women being asked to continue their work in secret while authorities publicly deride them as frauds is chillingly reminiscent of real-world politics and shaming. But its most vocal message is a powerful one: believe in yourself and each other, and defend and support one another. As Dippold herself commented, “the big message was believing in yourself, and having a passion and sticking to it… Just follow your passion and find like-minded, strange people.”

I think the Ghostbusters are my kinda people.

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Grace Duffy is a pop culture devotée and sometime film critic currently catching up on her classic sci-fi. You can read more on her Tumblr or catch her frequent TV liveblogs on Twitter.

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26 Jul 11:45

How a colorful wedding cake inspired this colorful nursery design

by kristacarolyng

Baby or no baby, this room makes me happy too!

Photos by Nicole Igloliorte of Crockwell Photography.

If you've seen our wedding on Offbeat Bride you might remember the colourful polka dot cake that I made. I seriously feel happy every time I look at that matrix of colour!

When I started following @ohhappyday on Instagram, I discovered they had a dot wall which reminded me of our wedding cake…

Photo by Photography
Photo by Photography

I even noticed that they had a tutorial on how they did it. I knew I needed a dot wall in our home. And what better spot than our baby's nursery?

I decided that getting up on a stool to paint circles wouldn't work (now that I was pregnant), and it wasn't something that I didn't trust anyone else to do for me. Instead I found vinyl dots from Surface Inspired, a Vancouver based Etsy Shop. They only had listings for single colour decals so I contacted them for a custom order of multiple colours. I sent of the number of each colour that I needed, and they were quick to turnaround a package for me.


So while I was home visiting family one weekend, my husband, Rob, painted a white accent wall for me so that I could start measuring out and applying the dot decals. The rest of the walls were to remain its "happy blue" because the colour makes me happy.

vinyl polka dot progress

I normally would have started out measuring from top to bottom. But, being pregnant, I decided to go from the ground up. After placing the first dot, I measured 2" to the left and 2" up to mark where the next row and column would go. I started out applying the dots in a random pattern but tried to use each colour only once in the row/column. As I neared the top, this was nearly impossible so then I started standing back to see which colour was "needed" in that particular position to balance out the colour arrangement. Because I started from far right of the room and decided to use exactly 2" intervals, it left me with a partial dot at the far left of the room. I broke out the card stock cutter that I had bought to make our wedding invitations and it worked like a charm!


It took about two-and-a-half hours to measure out, and apply, the first two rows of dots. A lot of this was due to arranging and rearranging the dots before applying them to the wall. To speed the process up, later I started arranging the dot sheets on the floor to see the order that I would apply the dots to the wall. I would do this first, take a break or run some errands and then start measuring out and applying the dots again. It made the process feel a whole lot quicker.


The whole process took about one month to complete. I was so happy with the result. Just looking at the wall would fill me with happiness and I hoped that it would do the same for our baby girl that was on the way.


Because the room was small, I wanted to keep everything bright so I went with the Mercer 3-in-1 Convertible Crib — I loved that it had storage on the bottom! Going with white was also a great contrast to the awesome quilt that I had bought from Pippa Quilts on Etsy.


I also ordered the Baby Letto Hudson Changer Dresser, because I loved the combination of drawers and shelves.


Above the change table, I wanted something to distract the baby and found these colourful tetrahedrons that arrived in flat sheets but you punched out, folded and glued together.


Being a huge Nick Park fan, above the crib I wanted to make a mobile with Shaun the Sheep (from the Wallace and Gromit). So I purchased five Shaun the Sheep keychains from Amazon. I picked up two wooden embroidery hoops and clear jewellery string to make the two mobiles.


Although I was advised to not go with a white glider (because it will definitely end up with puke on it), I went with a white glider. So far, so good — the white glider is currently puke free!


It's the Fogo model from Dutailier's Moderno series. Because I have a lot of neck and back issues and my sister had the same model and knew that it would have the support that I needed. It also had a locking mechanism which also comes in handy.


I found a cool coloured flag tote on ModCloth, and thought it would be perfect to hold all of the toys that the baby had been gifted already. The only downfall is that when our seven-year-old Lakeland Terrier, Jax, gets jealous he digs out toys from it to run off with for attention. It's an ongoing battle, but we're slowly making progress.


I had stumbled upon two cloud-shaped book shelves and thought they would be perfect on the two walls where the closet juts out (especially seeing how the wall was already a perfect sky blue)! Being narrow, we could only fit a few books on them.


And because of the angled wall in her room, there was nowhere to place a bookshelf so my Father-In-Law helped me make a narrower version of the bookshelves in this tutorial that I found on Pinterest.


Lastly, the angled wall blocked a fair amount of light so we needed a light to go in that corner. The issue we had was finding a light that didn't come up past the cloud shelves that we had recently installed. While walking through Rona one day picking up some lightbulbs, we happened to stumble across this colourful lamp with adjustable goosenecks and it worked perfectly for Lilliana's colourful room.


I've always said that colour makes me happy. Hopefully it makes my daughter feel the same way too!

Recent Comments

  • kristacarolyng: Thanks Ruth! ☺️ [Link]
  • kristacarolyng: Thanks Gee! The fancy lenses that Nicole used to shoot the room definitely gives it the appearance that it's more… [Link]
  • kristacarolyng: It makes me happy that it makes you happy too! ☺️ [Link]
  • Ruth: This may be the prettiest, cutest nursery I've ever seen! Bravo! [Link]
  • Gee: So amused that this is a small room for you, this is a massive second bedroom where I live and… [Link]

+ 8 more! Join the discussion

19 Jul 09:00

Clear Padlock for Lock Pick Practice

by mark

RELEVANT to my rouge interests

I have be trying to pick locks since I was a child. I have many lock picks I have bought or made myself over the years, but never saw what I was doing until I was given a clear plastic padlock a few months ago. Now I can plainly see the pins, driver pins, sheer line and springs etc. (By the way hairpins and paper clips will open padlocks.) This lock comes with a pair of keys to open the lock, so you could actually use it as a padlock. But if you do, beware of everyone wanting to pick it open!

-- Kent Barnes

Clear Padlock for Lock Pick Practice ($9)

International Amazon link

Available from Amazon

23 Jul 15:00

Stranger Things Happened... And Now I'm In Love

by Jen
I'm not sure I've EVER enjoyed a TV series more than Stranger Things, so prepare for a rave, my friends. Only with less glow sticks and more of this awesome fan art action:

The official promo art gives a better idea of the series' overall feel, though:
 Doesn't this look like the cover of every paperback you read in middle school? Love it.

WHO SHOULD WATCH: Anyone who grew up in the 80s, and/or anyone who loves 80s ensemble kid-hero movies like Goonies, E.T., and Explorers.

WHO SHOULD NOT WATCH: Anyone who thinks X-files was too creepy. There are definitely some Supernatural level scares, but thankfully not much Supernatural level gore. If you can make it through the first 2 episodes, you'll be fine; that's about as bad as it gets. (Parents, I'd pre-screen.)


1) Stranger Things is compelling, heartwarming, nostalgic, and scary - in that order. There's a reason everyone seems to be binge-watching it; the story sucks you in almost immediately, and won't let go.

2) The characters are refreshingly REAL in a very Freaks & Geeks way. You can relate to them. You believe them. You believe the reasons they do what they do. And you're going to love more of them than you'd expect.

They're not all Highschool Musical heartthrobs, either, which makes me happy. (Anyone else tired of Hollywood passing off twenty-something cover models as high schoolers, and trying to convince us plastic perfection is the norm during childhood? Then watch this.)

3) Mega Girl Power.  I won't say more because spoilers, but ermergersh YES to more badass females.

4) Perfect pacing and character development. There are no lulls, and some of the characters will surprise you, often in fantastic ways. (I especially love Hop's story arc.)

5) It ends as well as it begins. (Which is really, REALLY well.)

How many shows start strong and then limp to the end with some nonsensical finale? (Lookin' at you, LOST.) Not this one. I CHEERED as the last credits rolled, you guys. CHEERED. Just enough resolution, while still hinting at a next season. Perfection.

Go. Watch.

Oh, but before you do, lemme announce this month's art winners!

The winner of the Mario print is: Kari Selph
The winner of the Maleficent print is: Jessy Southard Strohmeyer
And my wild card winner is: Amy from Williamsburg

Congrats, you three, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses!

21 Jul 19:12

Craftin' Makes Me Feel Good: DIY Holtzmann Necklace From Ghostbusters

by Jen

Screw U.

If you're as smitten with Holtzmann from Ghostbusters as I am, then odds are you've thought about getting your paws on that rockin' necklace of hers:

Quick Confession: I must admit, once I (finally) realized her necklace wasn't a nerdy Uranium reference, but rather a literal "screw U," I was a little sad. I'm not really a fan of insults as fashion statements. Never have been. 


Then the Leslie Jones Twitter thing happened. 

And you guys, I got pretty mad.

And I realized: Holtzmann's necklace is directed at the haters. At every racist troll, at every patronizing fanboy gatekeeper. By wearing this necklace, we're not only supporting badass women, we're standing up for our fandom. Think we're fake geek girls? Think women can't be funny? Think allowing a new generation into the fandom is ruining your childhood? Then, hey, dude: READ THE NECKLACE.

So, yeah, that's when I made this:

It's not screen accurate by any means, but I kind of love the idea of putting your own spin on it. 

In fact, I made a second version that's slightly smaller - and even less screen-accurate - but I like it even better:
And this smaller version is the easier one to make!

So let's make some necklaces.

First, head to the hardware store and pick these up:
» Read More
16 Jul 03:17

The "I Only Hate It Because It's A Reboot" Argument Gets BUSTED

by Jen
I didn't want a reboot, you guys.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say I *hated* the fact that the new Ghostbusters was going to be a reboot. I wanted a continuation, a legacy, a sequel to the original's brilliance, not some modern replacement.

I held out hope, though, because an all-female 'bustin team made me happy to be alive. Good or bad, I told the perpetual naysayers, this movie will show little girls they, too, can be ghostbusters - so that's already a win.

But I was still scared. Please, I thought, Paul Feig, don't prove the patronizing fanboy jerkfaces right.

The first trailer did little to assuage my fears. I was still hopeful, and I put on a brave face, but inside I have to admit a small part of me was squeaking "ohhhh noooooooo."  Gross body humor? Literal gun licking? A possessed 'buster? "Nooooooooo!"

The second trailer was better, though, and I started to actually look forward to opening day. I kinda liked the new theme song, even when it seemed the entire internet haaaaaated it. At conventions I found proton-packing purists - women AND men - who were so excited they were already making the new props and costumes. They helped remind me how FUN this is - how it's supposed to be fun! - and that the haters did not speak for all hardcore fans.

So now... let's talk about the movie.

I just saw it a few hours ago, so this will be fresh and jumbled, but I promise to keep it spoiler-free.

Given that I sat down expecting the quality of that first trailer, I will tell you I was BLOWN AWAY by the first 30-40 minutes. As in, I spent that entire time with my jaw either hanging open or in the biggest, goofiest grin. It was just SO GOOD, you guys. The opening sequence is genuinely scary, beautifully shot, and could not be a more perfect prologue.

The character intros are equally pitch-perfect, as we get just the right amount of back story before being thrown back into the ghostly action.

But best of all, it feels completely new. This is not a re-hashing of the original, regurgitated scene-for-scene like I dreaded. This is not an attempt at a replacement. This is a new direction, with a different approach. Almost nothing feels familiar, and that's a good thing. It lets you get lost in the story, and when the rare homage pops up - like the original logo, or a snippet of piano - it's actually a bit startling!

I don't think it will surprise you that, of the four leads, Kate McKinnon is the standout. Quirky, brilliant, and with a "let-it-all-burn" gleam in her eye that keeps you guessing, her Holtzman is definitely going to be the fan favorite.

Prepare to love this woman.

What may surprise you is that Kristin Wiig and Leslie Jones absolutely kill it, too, with Leslie edging out Kate with some phenomenal one-liners I wish I could share, but won't, because spoilers.

I consider myself a Melissa McCarthy fan, so it pains me to say my namesake character, Abby Yates, was kinda "meh." I found myself wishing Holtzman had more screen time/lines, and Yates, less. McCarthy's lines just weren't as funny, and since she seems to be scolding or complaining much of the time, she comes off less likeable than the other three.

Which reminds me: all those things most of us didn't like in the first trailer? Leslie's histrionics, Kristin's slime jokes, Kate's gun-licking? Those things go by in the blink of an eye in the actual film, and in context, totally work. They're also one-offs, and are not at all what the whole movie is like. It's weird to me that those were the moments the studio chose to highlight, when there are so many better ones! (Oh, and the hated theme song? Plays for about 10 seconds during a "rah rah go get 'em" kind of scene. Which rocks.)

Getting back to the film's flow, I've heard a lot of raving about the Ghostbuster's "third act," but it does take a while after the draggy midsections to recapture the film's spirit - pun totally intended. That said, there's at least one dramatic slo-mo action sequence in there that had me this close to standing up and cheering, so it definitely comes back around.

The Big Bad at the end doesn't compare to Staypuft for me, but to be fair, I'm not sure anything could. I will say the effects are great; just the right mix of silly and scary, and again, they didn't even try to mirror the original's finale, which I appreciate. (We saw it in 3D, btw, which was cool for the finale especially, but overall I don't think it's necessary.)

More pluses:

- The explanation for WHY ghosts are suddenly popping up all over NYC is better than the original film. That's right, BETTER. (And if memory serves, even ties in a little from the video game.)

- The original cast cameos are mercifully brief and lovingly done. (Stay 'til the very, VERY end of the credits.) In fact, keep your eyes peeled during the first 10 minutes for a sweet Harold Ramis tribute.

- A little side-tracky, but Holtzman's necklace -which I couldn't stop staring at the whole movie, but didn't "get" until an hour later in the car ride home - was a definite highlight for me. Let's see if you can tell what it is from this photo:


(OK, because John's insisting - probably because this made him laugh really, really hard - here's the actual dialogue the moment I "got" her necklace: 

"Yeah, I loved it, but I still don't understand the U. At first I thought it was a science thing, like for Uranium? 'Cuz her name doesn't have a U in it. Plus there was a screw behind it, which seems really...OH MY GOSH OH MY GOSH SCREW YOU IT MEANS 'SCREW YOU' I'M AN IDIOT.")

As for negatives: Ghostbusters feels a little too long, some (though not as much as you'd expect) of the humor falls flat, and the finale, while good, doesn't have that epic, toe-tapping, feel-good vibe of the original. You could chalk that up to waiting through 10 minutes of credits for all the extra scenes, though. (Which you should still do.)

So, TL; DR?

It's less a reboot and more a completely new story with a few original GB homages thrown in. It won't ruin your childhood, I promise. 


15 Jul 10:30

Blue Shift: Green Cleaning—Lies, Damn Lies, and Advertising

by Leigh Krietsch Boerner


Clean everything with vinegar and water.

“Green” cleaning—it’s hip, but is it helpful? There’s zero question that our presence on earth is changing our environment, but is using green cleaners going to make a difference? In this three-part series, we’ll examine if green products are really better for you, your house, your planet, and your wallet.

Curious to know what’s coming up next week?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to grab a sneak peek at what we’re working on, plus a roundup of new guides and updates.

Personally, I hate grocery shopping. The lights are too bright, and there are too many products with too many claims assaulting your eyes, brain, and wallet from the shelves. “Ultra Power Plus,” shouts one dish detergent. “With Active Suds” boasts another. “Safer Ingredients for Baby,” says a third.

Wait, what was that last one? Does that mean the other ones are harmful to my baby? Am I making my kid sick without knowing it? Crap, I’d better get that baby-safe one!

Aaaaaand they got you.

All products exist to be sold, of course, and their advertising exists to manipulate you into buying whatever they’re selling. “Green” companies, ones that claim their products are better for you and/or the environment, are no different. However, some of these companies are polluting the waters of truth in a different way to get you to buy their products. By calling themselves “safe” or “honest,” they imply their competitors are not, and they exploit misplaced beliefs about certain ingredients by using meaningless buzzwords.

One great example that’s become almost an urban legend at this point: sodium lauryl sulfate, aka SLS. This surfactant (short for “surface active agent”) is basically used as a detergent in cleaning products and is pretty common in all types of products, from toothpaste to shampoos to dish detergents. But you’ll also find a lot of products that loudly proclaim themselves “SLS-free.” Some people buy these because of a vague notion, likely spurred by advertising, that SLS is bad. This misinformation is from a rumor many years ago that SLS causes cancer. It does not. Some people also may be mixing SLS up with sodium laureth sulfate, or SLES—these are very similar molecules, but only one contains a carcinogen called 1,4-dioxane. This byproduct can be created when SLS is made into SLES. There’s much more info here, but even with a 1,4-dioxane contaminated product, you’d have to do 2,000 sinkfuls of dishes a day to get to a level that would harm you. A difficult task, even for Cinderella.

Regardless, some companies put a lot of emphasis on their SLS-free-ness. The Honest Company, a popular brand, recently got in trouble for advertising its laundry detergent as SLS-free, when independent tests showed that it actually contained the surfactant.1 (Maybe it wasn’t a great business move for the company to label itself “honest.”) Trying to set themselves apart from competitors by proclaiming a lack of a vilified ingredient is a tactic that other green companies tend to use, too.

Dapple, a company that makes a bunch of baby-specific stuff, really does put a label on its dish detergent that says “The baby safe choice.”2 And yes, it is! But so is every other dish detergent on the market. It’s not safe to drink, as Dapple points out on the back of the bottle, and this would be a problem with other dish detergents too. But are those other detergents safe to use on baby’s dishes? Despite what Dapple seems to imply, yes, they are.

Seventh Generation uses a similar tactic on its website, labeling laundry detergent “0% toxic*.” I could not find what that asterisk meant on the website, and had to email the PR department to find out. The relevant info: “Our formulas are not toxic to you and are biodegradable. Always use as directed.” The detergent’s directions call for drinking a glass of water if you ingest it.3 But they don’t mention calling poison control or seeing a doctor—does that seem weird to anybody else? The material data safety sheet for SLS says to get medical attention if you happen to drink it.

And the word “toxic” is a slippery slope, because almost everything is toxic if you take enough of it. The term “nontoxic” also means approximately diddly-squat. Same for “chemical-free.” Ditto for “natural,” which the FDA has tried to point out is a meaningless word in this context. Any company can put pictures of green leaves on its bottle or pictures of spring meadows in its ads.

What this all adds up to is that there are many companies that use these tactics to scare you into buying their stuff. A lot of this advertising is aimed at parents who just want to protect their kids, which makes it even more despicable. I mean really, (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻.

So ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) okay. One good and mostly true sweeping generalization about green companies is that they tend not to test on animals. And if you’re worried about the safety of household cleaning products, there’s always the EPA’s Safer Choice program. Formerly known as Design for the Environment, Safer Choice lists compounds and products that meet the program’s environmental and safety standards. The EPA gets these standards by analyzing classes of chemicals—surfactants, for example—and chooses the ones with the lowest hazards within their class. (Here is a more-detailed explanation of the standard.) And, by the way, SLS is on the EPA’s “safe” list.

To be clear: I’m not suggesting that you should avoid green companies. I’m saying that you need to take their advertising claims with a grain of salt—as you should take all advertising claims. Fear is a great motivator, but it’s also the mind killer. Let it pass over and through you, and try to ignore those labels that attempt to use fear to separate you from your money.

In parts two and three, we’ll explore whether “green” companies’ products are really better for the environment, and what DIY or homemade alternatives you might have.

When a source of light moves toward you, its waves are compressed and pushed to a higher energy. We can’t always see this blue shift, but it’s there.

In the space of Internet science, there’s a lot of bad information floating around. In this biweekly column, Leigh Krietsch Boerner, chemistry PhD and science editor of The Sweethome, will tell you what you need to know on the science of home products, and what’s all around you.

(Photo by Michael Hession.)


1. The gods of irony are well-pleased. Jump back.

2. It also used to say “0 percent toxins.” A toxin is a biologically produced poison—think snake venom or the compound that causes botulism—not a toxic compound. When I pointed this out to Dapple’s PR person, she sent me this official response: “The claim ‘no toxins’ is completely true and forthright—not a single ingredient in our products is a toxin, and we disclose all ingredients to make sure everyone knows exactly what’s in there.” So, no botulism juice. Got it. (Dang, what am I going to wash my Bag O’ Glass with?) Fortunately, the company removed this ludicrous label, and it no longer appears on its dish detergent. Jump back.

3. The detergent’s label also says it’s gluten-free, which is great news for people with Celiac disease who wish to drink it. Jump back.

12 Jul 09:00

Low Profile Washer Head Cabinet Screw

by mark

I used these screws recently to reorganize the shelves, cabinets, tracks, and hooks in my garage. Previously, I had used cheaper standard framing wood screws, supplemented with washers in some cases. With fatter standard wood screws, I needed to drill the hole first. These thinner, self-drilling cabinet screws require no drilling and can be applied to a standard wall stud, through drywall, with a low-torque device, rather than an impact driver. When no pre-drilling is necessary, the job moves more than twice as fast because I have no mess to clean up. Yes they are more expensive but these screws easily paid for themselves in the time I saved. Love ‘em.

-- Benjamin W. Friedman

Low Profile Washer Head Cabinet Screw (100 screws for $30)

International Amazon link

Available from Amazon

11 Jul 14:30

What Kitchen Tools Do You Bring on Vacation? — Reader Intelligence Request

by Geraldine Campbell

Relevant! My cabin-box for the state park cabins/airBNBs always includes a colander and mixing bowl, measuring spoons and cups, a bottle of PAM, chopping boards and various spatulas etc, spices etc.

(Image credit: Cambria Bold)

This summer I'm hoping to escape the city and take up residence in a little cottage by the sea for a week or two. Top of mind as I plot my getaway is my packing list. I'm not talking about my summer wardrobe — I'm talking about my kitchen tools.

My chef's knife is a given, but do I need my cast iron? What about my coffee grinder? Will the rental have a corkscrew? Or measuring cups and spoons? Help me out: Which tools are essential, and which should be left behind?


29 Jun 14:45

How to stay happily married while renovating

by Raf Howery

These are excellent tips!

Photo by @nathan_son_of_bruce
Photo by @nathan_son_of_bruce

Huh? Is this really a serious issue? Unfortunately, it is. And I have been asked about it multiple times, since my wife and I have completed four separate renovations and, even though we went through some tough spells, we're still happily married.

Here's what we learned along the way, and what we did to remain happily married while renovating…

Decided who the ultimate decision-maker will be

Before we began any renovation process, we decided who the ultimate decision-maker will be whenever there is a deadlock. You could separate the decision authority based on the different competences you each have… If you are good at budgeting, then by all means control the finances, and have the last say — but agree on that with your significant other first. In other words, decide who is the boss is in which areas before you even start the process.

You should also think about what kind of conflicts you may encounter and what the rule of thumb should be when they happen. Write them down and keep the list in front of you. These will be your temporary marital vows during your renovation.

Price your shopping wish list before you begin

Budget has a lot to do with your product wish list — from the marble, to your fixtures and appliances — and is often the main controversial and quarrel-initiating factor. Be in the know before you begin to alleviate any potential conflicts regarding spend. Figure out where your tastes lie, and price it out ahead of time. Get the material budget defined very clearly, and make sure that when you hire the contractor, the allowance for those projects match your budget. (An allowance is the part of the bid that the contractor gives you to buy the materials you want for things like kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and roofing.)

One of you should be doing all the communication with the contractor

This may seem extreme to some, but, trust me, you can avoid conflicts by streamlining all communications. Choose one of you to communicate and that same person should preferably own the budget, too. If one of you is playing bad cop with the contractor, make sure he or she is not the main communicator.

Take vacations during the dusty period

Dust and dirt makes it hard to be happy. Whenever possible, pack your bags and go somewhere else. There are many ways you can keep track of your renovation if you're not on site. You can go back once the dust settles.

Be understanding of the other's signs of fatigue and frustration

Being frustrated at your spouse's frustration is going to get you nowhere. One of you needs to be up when the other is down. Resist the urge to be influenced by your partner's mood. Step up and be strong until he or she is up again. Discussing this beforehand will go a long way when these feelings arise in either of you during the renovation.

Manage, manage and manage proactively

Managing a renovation can be tough. It requires great project management skills, and understanding of construction tasks and their interdependencies. Once you spend the time talking to your contractor to understand your renovation project plan — task by task, and the flow of the renovation — draw up a timeline with your significant other so you are both on the same page.

You probably already know which one of you is more organized, so you can now go ahead and put the timeline on that spouse's smartphone calendar, and set up alerts for him or her to check on the progress of every task. Do the same with the materials you need to purchase.

And give yourselves enough lead time for every product so that you don't face any unpleasant surprises down the line.

Turn shopping trips into shopping dates

If you are both into the project, you should try to transform your shopping days into actual dates. This is the most enjoyable part of the entire journey, so have some fun while selecting the things that will be part of your home. Take the time to enjoy browsing, dreaming, spending and romancing. It will strengthen your relationship and understanding of each other as you both build your cocoon.

Any renovation can be tough, but by being informed and organized, clearly delineating responsibilities and making a romantic journey of improving your nest, everyone wins.

What tips do you guys have for renovating your home, but not ruining your relationship?

Recent Comments

  • Jennifer Long: THIS! I actually have a draft of a guest post written about how our marriage survived our DIY bathroom remodel… [Link]
  • VaseyDaisy: Yes to shopping dates! My husband and I did two renovations so far; our tiny kitchen, and our only bathroom… [Link]
  • k: The last item on this list made me smile - my parents have done a ton of renovating to their… [Link]
  • SonyaG: I agree with all this. Additional tips if you are living in your reno and doing it yourself:… [Link]
  • Colleen: For us, that hasn't been a problem for two reasons: - Each home we've bought has a different architectural… [Link]

+ 3 more! Join the discussion

23 Jun 18:00

Learning That Depression Lies: My Mental Health Management Strategy

by Katie Klabusich

Those of us with the types of depression that ebb and flow, insidiously creeping up when we least expect it, might not have our shields up and ready when the tide comes in. But a few months ago I happened to feel another bout of depression looming before it knocked me off my feet and accidentally discovered a strategy for fighting it.

Read more Learning That Depression Lies: My Mental Health Management Strategy at The Toast.

15 Jun 17:00

On Not Being a Mom or a Dad

by B.A. Beasley

Powerful read.

My kid and I, we’re fine. She knows who I am, and for right now, she sees me more clearly than anyone I’ve ever known, because she doesn’t know yet what it’s supposed to mean to be a man or a woman, or a mom or a dad. She just knows me.

Read more On Not Being a Mom or a Dad at The Toast.

31 May 14:00

Straddler Nation: Building Safe(r) Spaces for Queers IRL

by Carmen
Indystraddlers doin' their thing.

How do real-life communities based off of online ones maintain safe and inclusive spaces? Let's talk about it!

The post Straddler Nation: Building Safe(r) Spaces for Queers IRL appeared first on Autostraddle.

25 May 16:39

Blue Shift: DEET Is Actually Quite Safe—Really

by Leigh Krietsch Boerner

blue shift deet feature

If you’re worried about the Zika virus (and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you have reason to be), you should stop worrying about DEET. Even on infants older than 2 months. And especially if you’re pregnant. In fact, even though DEET hasn’t been tested on pregnant women in their first trimester, experts are now saying that it’s okay for all pregnant women to use insect repellents that contain DEET, since the danger of Zika to an unborn baby is higher than any potential danger from DEET.

Poor DEET—nobody wants to invite it to their birthday party. And that’s very sad, because DEET is the most tested insect repellent available on the market. “Concerns over the safety of DEET first emerged during the 1980s after reports of encephalopathy following DEET exposure, particularly in children. However, the role of DEET in either the illness or deaths was and remains purely speculative,” says this recent meta-study on the safety of DEET.

That sentiment is echoed in this 2015 paper (subscription required) on insect repellent: “During the 1980s and 1990s there were several reports of encephalopathy following DEET exposure in children. However, risk assessments by both the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and independent publications, as well as a clinical trial, found no association between encephalopathy and DEET use, and no toxological risk or severe effects except after inappropriate use (ingestion, direct inhalation, or eye exposure).”

The Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences looked into the health effects of DEET, as well, and found that over 40 years of use, from 1961 to 2002, eight DEET-related deaths occurred. Three were of people intentionally drinking it, two were of adults wearing it, and three were of girls under 6 who underwent “heavy” use. One of those girls had a health condition that may have contributed to her death.

Repellent Use Safe for babies (2 months to 3 years)1 Safe for kids (3 years and up) Safe for pregnant people
Oil of lemon eucalyptus Skin and clothes No Yes, animal tested Yes, animal tested
Picaridin Skin and clothes No Yes, animal tested Yes, animal tested
IR-3535 Skin and clothes Yes, adult tested Yes, adult tested Yes, adult tested
DEET Skin and clothes Yes, infant tested2 Yes, kid tested2 Yes, tested with pregnant people2

That being said, DEET is the safest bug repellent out there, according to both the CDC (PDF) and the EPA. It’s also one of the few okayed for use on babies as young as 2 months, and on pregnant women in their second and third trimesters.

Because people are worried about this type of thing, most bottles of DEET tell you to wash it off after use. This step is to minimize your exposure, said Dr. Mark Fradin, a dermatologist who co-authored one of the seminal papers on the efficacy of mosquito repellents, in an interview. But DEET is “a remarkably safe product when used intelligently.” So follow those rules on the can.

The alternatives aren’t necessarily safer. Picaridin hasn’t been safety-tested nearly as much as DEET, though it may be just as effective. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is most often a synthesized, lab-made compound also known as PMD. According to the CDC, neither type is suitable for use on kids younger than 3, because they are severe eye irritants and kids that little tend to rub their eyes a lot. And PMD is not the same as the “pure” oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is not recommended for use as a repellent as it hasn’t been tested for efficacy.

As for other options, according to the study that Fradin co-authored, so-called “natural” repellents don’t work nearly as well. We wouldn’t trust them to prevent mosquito bites.

For more information on alternative bug repellents, the best DEET concentration, and details about Zika, read our recommendation for the best bug repellent.

When a source of light moves toward you, its waves are compressed and pushed to a higher energy. We can’t always see this blue shift, but it’s there.

In the space of Internet science, there’s a lot of bad information floating around. In this biweekly column, Leigh Krietsch Boerner, chemistry PhD and science editor of The Sweethome, will tell you what you need to know on the science of home products, and what’s all around you.

(Top photo by Michael Hession, with illustration by Elizabeth Brown.)


1. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises not putting repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. Jump back.

2. All of these tests were observational studies, meaning the researchers looked back at past use and saw no harm. No one gave babies, children, or expectant mothers large amounts of DEET to see if it hurt them. Jump back.

24 May 14:00

Why Everyone Is Attracted To Baristas (It’s Because Of Late-Stage Capitalism)

by Mallory Ortberg


1. Because you haven't been able to find a stable office job in more than four years and coffee shops are some of the only places you can afford to spend more than half an hour in without having to admit you can no longer keep up with your friends financially

2. Because your parents romanticized blue-collar labor

Read more Why Everyone Is Attracted To Baristas (It’s Because Of Late-Stage Capitalism) at The Toast.

24 May 09:00


by mark

This stuff famously impressed the folks on Shark Tank enough to garner some investments. It’s not different in principle from using fiberglass and resin to patch something, but it’s a lot more convenient and tidier to use.

The package contains a little square of sandpaper to roughen up the surfaces a bit to enhance adhesion (although this is not addressed in the instructions and it’s something fix-it beginners might not know), a nice durable pair of vinyl gloves to keep your hands from getting glued to your garden tools, a sealed foil package containing a roll of the actual product (comes in varying widths and slightly varying lengths, but most readily available in 4″ by 60″ in big home improvement chains, etc.), a strip of vinyl which can be optionally applied to the outside of the fix before it hardens, then removed to leave a smoother surface, and a simple set of instructions.

The fabric doesn’t seem to be fiberglas, it appears to be some sort of polymer. The innovation here is the resin with which the repair tape is impregnated. The developers have managed to find something which is activated by exposure to water, hardens in minutes, is commendably sticky without being annoyingly hard to apply, and cures strong; all while being non-toxic (it says here). Thus, rather than trying to keep a wrap of fiberglass cloth tight with one hand while dabbing on resin with a drippy brush held in the other, you simply rip open the package, submerge the whole roll under water for 15 seconds or so, then wrap it around what you want to fix. It grabs the substrate quite nicely and similarly grabs itself, so that a nice solid repair is easy to make; 15 minutes later, it’s ready to use.

I used it to fix a digging fork which I habitually abuse horribly, whose wooden handle broke off at the end of the metal ferrule. Previous fixes have used a 6″ black iron pipe coupling which happens to be of the correct inside diameter, but that always eventually fails because the slight taper of the ferrule works itself loose from the inside of the pipe, even when epoxied in place.

The FiberFix, however, molds itself to the taper of the ferrule and doesn’t give it any wiggle room, in addition to adhering solidly to both the metal of the ferrule and the wood of the handle. When cured, the repair is now strong enough that I can’t break it with my overly aggressive levering on the fork; I expect it to last at least as long as the pipe coupling repair, and it was a heck of a lot easier and quicker to do. I was so impressed I went out and got a second package and did a similar wrap on my shovel, even though the handle is not yet broken, as a precautionary measure. (They never make the ferrules on these things long enough for me).

The wrap is designed to be used all at once when opened; exposure to the humidity in the air will activate the resin, so you can’t save half of it for next time. The package has a “best if used by” date approximately three years in the future; the package I used was purchased a year ago and has been sitting unopened on my shelf since then without any apparent degradation, so keeping a package around for emergency fixes of tools and returning them to service within half an hour without having to stop what you’re doing to go shopping is feasible.

The manufacturer suggests it can be used to fix leaky pipes as well, but I haven’t tried that yet.

-- Gerald Zuckier

FiberFix 4 Inch Repair Wrap ($8)

International Amazon link

Available from Amazon

20 May 11:45

Tips from a makeup artist: The 5 best lip balms and lip moisturizers

by Tania D. Russell
By: philograpfy
By: philograpfyCC BY 2.0

When you’re in the makeup biz, you really do think about product a lot. Therefore, when I write about makeup, I tend to gravitate to products that I’ve found that work for photographic use, and to the latest greatest of what’s happening in the cosmetics world. I am frequently reminded, however, that “normal people” (aka, non makeup artists/fanatics) do not think about these things at all — they just want some basic products that work so they can look their best and go on about their way. The reality is, when women find out I am a makeup artist, they are MUCH more likely to ask me what is the best mascara or moisturizer than they are to ask about some esoteric micro makeup brand.

So let's talk basics: The best lip balms and lip moisturizers! These are the things that real women ask me about all the time and all the time. Being a pro makeup artist I’ve gone through umpteen brands of each type of product and these are the ones that make my cut.

A word about what I look for in a lip balm:

First and foremost anything Petroleum based is out. Some folks love Petroleum based lip-balms, and if that’s you and it is working for you then great. Keep doing you. I do not like Petroleum based lip-balms at all. They do not actually moisturize, in my opinion, nor do I like the way they feel (greasy) and then as a makeup artist I cannot use them under lip color because they make the color “slip.” Therefore there will be no Carmex, Chapstick, Rosebud Salve (although I LOVE Rosebud salve for other things), or even the ever popular Keihl’s Lip Balm #1. I look for balms that are creamy in texture and feel and are derived from natural oils often in some kind of an oil/water emulsion formula. Here then are my picks of fabulous lip moisturizers…

burts beeswax

5. Burts Bees Beeswax Lip Balm

Burt’s is a classic and with good reason: it works. What is particularly nice about the Burt's Bees formula is not only is beeswax a natural wax, but it’s smooth yet dry in texture. Therefore it is very comfortable to wear — even men like it because it doesn’t feel like there is “something” on your lips — and it is usable under lip color. It is also naturally matte which makes it great for men’s grooming, or anytime a glossy look is undesirable. There are a zillion different versions of the Balm now some of which are oiler/glossier/more fancy-pants than others… For my money the road keeps leading back to the original formula. (Note: I have the tin pictured because that’s what I personally use, but Burt’s Bees Lip Balm is available in tubes as well)

Blistex Medicated Lip Ointment

4. Blistex Medicated Lip Ointment

I know what you’re thinking: Did I not just say that I do not like Petroleum based products? Well, that is correct. Let’s be clear: I am only talking about the lip OINTMENT, not any of the stick balms. The Blistex Ointment is not petroleum based. It has a little bit of petroleum in it, but petroleum is well down the list of ingredients. It's is pretty much unbeatable when you are dealing with dry, cracking, sunburned or any form of distressed lip, that is past the point of using a scrub. The main active ingredient is Dimethicone which acts as a barrier to protect the lips, and the next three active ingredients are Camphor, Menthol and Phenol all of which are healing ointments. These ingredients are set in a creamy, not waxy, base that really stays on the lips and heals them right up. When lips are crying for mercy, Blistex Ointment is there to answer the call.

Vegan Hemp Lip Balm

3. The Merry Hempsters Vegan Hemp Lip Balm

Too many people hear the word “hemp” and their minds go to one wrong place. Hemp seed is very high in vitamins and omega-3 acids making it very healing (it is particularly beneficial for those suffering from eczema). The Merry Hempsters Vegan Hemp Lip Balm is just a good, basic no-frills balm. What’s unique about it, of course, is that it is vegan friendly, using plant-based candelilla wax instead of beeswax. This balm is smooth, creamy, long lasting, and everything I look for in a balm. Like Burt’s Bees it is dry enough for use under lip color.


2. Anita Grant Lippy Pucker Lip Balm

Anita Grant is a UK based personal care brand. I was first reeled into the brand by her haircare products for coily/curly hair, and I have been a devoted user ever since. One of the times I ordered her amazing Rhassoul Deep Hair Conditioner she slipped in a tube of her Lippy Pucker lip balm and I have been a fiend ever since. The Lippy Pucker is a blend of all-natural, largely organic vegetable oils blended with a couple of natural humectants (honey and castor oil) to make the smoothest, creamiest, most fantastic lipbalm I have ever used. It comes in a scrumptious array of natural flavors such as Tangy Lemon and Dark Chocolate, but I tend to stick to the un-flavored Original formula. Lippy Pucker is one of those rare lip moisturizers where not only do you not have to reapply constantly, but you can skip a day and your lips will still be soft. Oh yeah. It’s like that. I use it underneath lipgloss all the time without any problems. It might need to be blotted down a bit to but used underneath lipstick. While I wish I could just go to my local natural foods store and buy a tube, it is completely worth it to buy online, in my opinion.

So if Anita Grant is so amazing, what brand is #1 you say? Well, Anita Grant is what I use on myself on a day to day basis, but in my kit I use the one and only…

Malin and Goetz Lip Moisturizer

1. Malin and Goetz Lip Moisturizer

When I say you have never experienced anything like this product, I mean you have NEVER experienced anything like this product. Malin and Goetz exists in the realm where nature meets science. Unlike any of the other natural brands mentioned which just melt down a recipe of oils/butters/waxes, Malin and Goetz synthesizes the best properties of its naturally derived ingredients to create something altogether different. The result is a glossy lip moisturizing gel. It feels both hydrating and velvety at the same time. It is shiny like a gloss (so you minimal gals can wear it alone and be good to go) but it is not at all greasy or slippery so it works a dream underneath lip color. Like Lippy Pucker it is long lasting to the point where you can skip a day and your lips will still feel soft. It has barrier properties to protect dry lips from the elements, yet it penetrates into the lips and heals as opposed to just laying on the surface as most balms do. It’s just amazing, frankly. But since it is so potent you do not need much.

What are YOUR favorite lip balms and moisturizers?

Recent Comments

  • Shannon: As a dry-lipped vegan, this is one of my favorite topics. (So many good balms out there! So much beeswax… [Link]
  • Saffron: Ha! I clicked on this thinking "Ooh I wonder if there is anything better than Malin + Goetz" good to… [Link]
  • Kaaate: I definitely wouldn't say that people should use Carmex or anything like that for everyday stuff, but it is a… [Link]
  • Cassie: I have an issue with chapped lips and the corners of my mouth cracking (which is a sign of a… [Link]
  • KK: Here's my recent favorite lip balm. I got it as a freebie once and my lips stay moisturized for HOURS… [Link]

+ 5 more! Join the discussion

19 May 11:45

How do you tell your parents things they don't want to hear?

by Megan Finley


my parents
By: dalobeeeCC BY 2.0
I have a question for the Homies: How do you, as an adult in your agency, tell your parents things they don't want to hear?

For many reasons, including my religious and ethical beliefs, I feel I need to tell my parents that I am in a polyamorous relationship. I've previously come out to them as queer and trans, which feels different from this conversation.

Coming out feels like I'm sharing some information about myself so they can change their behavior; telling them that I'm dating more than one person feels like I'm selfishly telling them something they don't want to hear, so that I can live more honestly. How do I do this? -Colleen

Queer or straight. Poly or mono. Whatever. We ALL have had to tell things our parents didn't want to hear. How do YOU have tough talks with your parents?

Recent Comments

  • Louise: I'm so with Fawn on this. All I want to add is that, all you can do is share the… [Link]
  • Ok, i get it, now please stop. I truly regret that I ever made a comment and I never will… [Link]
  • SamanthaPink: I've never "come out" to my parents. This is not the same as being "in the closet." I simply rejected… [Link]
  • SamanthaPink: 1. Polyamory is a relationship dynamic, not a sexual orientation. 2. Asexual people both exist and have relationships, including… [Link]
  • My children have never hesitated to talk to me about anything, but I do live in a different city so… [Link]

+ 33 more! Join the discussion

18 May 12:00

Blue Shift: Why Dishwasher Rinse Aid Makes Dishes Cleaner and Drier

by Leigh Krietsch Boerner

Fascinating! Science!


Take a look in your dishwasher. You should see a little compartment for the detergent—and next to that, another little compartment. The second one is for the rinse aid, liquid stuff made up of surfactants and salts and acids. It’s designed to help your dishwasher work better, to give you cleaner and drier dishes that are all sparkly and pretty. Common concerns about rinse aid include whether it coats your dishes in gunk and hurts the environment, or whether it’s totally unnecessary. But a closer look reveals that it isn’t dangerous and is actually very helpful—your dishes will never get as clean without it.

Rinse aid really works

As much as we might like to believe the claim, rinse aid isn’t just a money grab for detergent companies.

You need rinse aid because dishwasher detergents don’t work the same as they used to. If you’ve read our guide to the best dishwashers, you know that in 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency and other regulators made detergent companies stop using phosphates, a great cleaning agent, because they can lead to algal bloom.

Says Liam McCabe in our dishwasher guide:

Every new dishwasher has a rinse-aid dispenser because rinse aid is essentially mandatory if you want your dishwasher to work well these days, according to every industry person we talked to. Rinse aid offsets the limitations resulting from gentler detergents and stricter efficiency standards—it’s just part of the deal now.

What’s in this stuff? And what does it do?

We’re going to use Finish Jet-Dry as our standard rinse aid, since that seems to be the dominant brand. (Disclaimer: Don’t take this as a recommendation! We haven’t tested any rinse aids, and we haven’t put this one through our normal Sweethome wringer.)

Finish Jet-Dry rinse aid has a bunch of stuff in it, but it isn’t complicated, really. Here’s a rundown of the contents:

  • Water is necessary to dissolve all the other stuff.
  • Alcohol ethoxylate is a nonionic (uncharged) surfactant that helps the water slide off your dishes better and thus helps them dry faster. This ingredient is probably the most important bit in rinse aids; more on how it works in a minute.
  • Sodium polycarboxylate is an anti-redeposition polymer that wraps itself around the crud that the dishwasher just washed off so that the bits don’t get stuck again on your dishes.
  • Citric acid, which RB (the company that makes Jet-Dry) calls a complexing/sequestering agent, is really good at grabbing calcium ions out of hard water. Calcium can bind with surfactants and keep them from cleaning and rinsing dishes, so citric acid acts as kind of a sacrificial lamb to keep calcium from interfering.
  • Sodium cumene sulfonate is another surfactant but with an electric charge, so it’s a bit better at breaking water’s surface tension on your dishes than alcohol ethoxylate, but it’s also more foamy (PDF). Foam is bad in a rinse aid, so that’s why such products use both kinds of surfactant.
  • Tetrasodium EDTA is a chelating agent. EDTA is short for ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid. It’s this funky-looking molecule that wraps its four arms around dissolved minerals in the water (such as calcium). The word chelate comes from the Greek word for “claw,” so you can imagine this molecule sinking its claws into minerals and whisking them away, similar to what citric acid does.
  • Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone (aka MI and MCI) are both preservatives, meaning they keep bacteria from growing in your bottle of rinse aid. Both are capable of causing skin allergies and are sensitizers, meaning that if you’re exposed to them over and over again, you can develop an allergy. But since rinse aid doesn’t sit on your skin and washes away completely from your dishes, I wouldn’t worry about it here.
  • CI Acid Blue 9 is dye. It makes the rinse aid blue. Why does it need to be blue? I have no idea, although colored solutions are easier to see in that little rinse-aid compartment.

As I mentioned above, the surfactants (short for “surface active agent”) are probably the most important part of rinse aid. Water is an oddly codependent molecule: It likes to hang on to its neighbors as much as possible. Water molecules on the surface freak out a bit because they don’t have any water molecules to hold onto above them, so they hang on doubly hard to their friends next door. This behavior is known as “high surface tension,” and it’s why water beads up on glasses and plates—the water would rather stick to itself than spread out on the plate.

Surfactants can break this high tension because they give those surface water molecules something they’d like to hang on to instead of their neighbors. So the water that used to bead up on your glass then spreads out in a thin layer. Water in a thin layer evaporates much more easily than beaded-up water, so your dishes come out dry at the end of the cycle.

Another major thing rinse aids do is prevent water spots on glasses. Remember the sequestering and chelating agents in there, citric acid and tetrasodium EDTA? These components grab the stuff that makes water spots—dissolved minerals such as calcium—and whisks them away. If they’re rinsed away, they don’t stay behind in the water, so no spots. Magic.

The last really important bit is that anti-redeposition agent, sodium polycarboxylate. It keeps food bits in the wash water from ending up back on your dishes.

Why do you need more surfactants? Isn’t detergent made of surfactants?

Yes, dishwashing detergent contains surfactants. But it also has hella complexing agents and enzymes. Different surfactants are better at different things: Some are better at cleaning, and some are better at breaking up water’s self-bonding party. The latter are the kind that tend to be in rinse aids. If you’re thinking you’ll be smart and just use extra detergent, womp womp. If you put in extra detergent, not all of it will rinse away cleanly, leaving you with a film of detergent on your dishes. Too much detergent can even etch glasses. Don’t do it.

What if you don’t want this crap on your dishes?

According to the customer service rep I talked to at Finish, if you use rinse aid properly—that is, put your dishwasher on the hottest, longest cycle—no residue will remain on your dishes. That’s the ideal situation. But what about less-than-ideal situations? According to the 16-ounce bottle of Finish Jet-Dry rinse aid, it has 150 washes of stuff in there, or 0.1 ounce per wash.1

Assuming that no rinse aid gets rinsed off during the wash cycle, the concentration of rinse aid in the dishwasher water is about 0.0005 ounce per rinse. Divide that among all of the dishes in your dishwasher, and you get … a really tiny amount. And at least some of it, maybe all of it, will get rinsed off.

What if you don’t want this crap in the environment?

As we say in our dish soap guide, water-treatment plants do a good job of cleaning surfactants out of the water. Two of rinse aid’s ingredients, alcohol ethoxylate and sodium cumene sulfonate, are considered low risks (PDF) to aquatic life. Another ingredient, tetrasodium EDTA, has a toxicity that’s a bit complicated because it almost always has some kind of ion (such as calcium) attached to it in water, which changes its chemistry. However, it isn’t a big risk with normal home use (PDF). Everything else checked out as having low toxicity to aquatic life. So unless your dishwasher drains directly to a stream (who are you?), rinse aids seem to pose little environmental risk.

What about vinegar in a cup? Is that cheaper, and does it work the same as rinse aid?

Yes and no. People all over Internet-land suggest using vinegar instead of commercial rinse aid, but this approach has two problems. First, you should not put vinegar in the rinse-aid dispenser in your dishwasher. Vinegar is a strong enough acid to melt the rubber gaskets in the rinse-aid dispenser. Bad. Some people suggest running a rinse cycle with the vinegar in a cup on the top rack, and this tactic can work. It is a bit of a pain, since you need to stop your dishwasher and put the cup in just before the rinse cycle. It also doesn’t work as well as rinse aid. Vinegar can be a chelator, but it’s not as good as EDTA. It can also mess with the surface tension of water, but not as well as alcohol ethoxylate and sodium cumene sulfonate. So it’s cheap (cheap-ish, actually—working in such small amounts, it’s hard to say), but in this case you get what you pay for.

So do you really need rinse aid?

Well, no, not really. They’re your dishes, do whatever the hell you want. But if your dishes are coming out of the dishwasher wet, or with food bits still stuck to them, give rinse aid a whirl. Or try the vinegar-in-a-cup thing. Life is an experiment—play with it and find what works best for you.

When a source of light moves toward you, its waves are compressed and pushed to a higher energy. We can’t always see this blue shift, but it’s there.

In the space of Internet science, there’s a lot of bad information floating around. In this biweekly column, Leigh Krietsch Boerner, chemistry PhD and science editor of The Sweethome, will tell you what you need to know on the science of home products, and what’s all around you.

(Top photo by Michael Hession, with illustration by Elizabeth Brown.)


1. Bosch, the company that makes our dishwasher pick, told Liam McCabe that 3.5 drops of rinse aid is used per dishwasher cycle. One drop is technically 0.05 milliliters, so that’s about 0.175 mL of rinse aid per each cycle. Since 0.1 ounce, the amount I used in the above calculations, is about 3 mL, somebody’s off here. I used the higher number because a too-high estimate is better than a too-low estimate in this case. We’re not exactly sure how much water your dishwasher uses in the rinse cycle, but we did find an older GE manual that says just running a rinse cycle uses 1 gallon of water. Dishwashers are different, so we’re guesstimating that the rinse cycle on most dishwashers uses about 1.5 gallons of water. One gallon is about 128 ounces, so 1.5 gallons is 192 ounces. Jump back.