Shared posts

12 Sep 15:53

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.

07 Sep 17:30

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

07 Sep 17:25

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. 

30 Aug 15:32

Toto Washlet: My Japanese butt-washing robot toiletseat

by Ariel Meadow Stallings

One day, we might have to upgrade our standard bidet I just installed to this!!

Toto Washlet on Offbeat Home
My fancy butt-washing toilet seat control panel, with contrasting hippie bathroom decor.

15 years ago, the gay interior designer who lived in my aunt's guesthouse installed a Toto Washlet in the bathroom. At the time, I dismissed the whole thing — leave it to the Japanese to invent a toilet seat with a robotic, mechanized wand that washes your butt! Leave it to the folly of a gay interior designer to install one! I tried it, laughed, made a friend try it, laughed some more at the sounds coming out of the bathroom, and moved on with my life.

Then, earlier this year, I was staying with my friend Jon, one of the co-founders of the Lovesick Expo. He lives in a LEED-certified house that's meticulously dedicated to sustainable, greener living. I took one look at his Japanese butt-washing robot toilet and was all, "Really, bitch? How does this ridiculously expensive, hilariously indulgent Japanese butt-washing robot toilet seat fit into your sustainable home?"

"Dude," he said. "You don't have to shower as much when your butt's clean."

That might be true, I conceded… while laughing.

"And you don't use toilet paper any more," he said.

That also might be true, I conceded… while laughing.

"And they're not that expensive any more."

I checked: Oh! What used to be a few thousand dollars is now around $300.

"Ok," I said. "Tell me more."

"You know when you get the runs, how sometimes you'll wipe your butt raw?" Jon said. "…And then you have the runs AND a raw butt?"

Yes, I did know about that, and it's awful. Then Jon's wife chimed in.

"It's the best for when you're having your period," she said. "It has a 'front wash' option that takes care of bloody messes."

Interesting, I thought to myself.

And then I bought one. And now I'm a convert! Toilet paper? BARBARIAN!

Ok, first: WTF is this thing?

A Toto Washlet is essentially an electrical toilet seat that washes your butt with a little wand. It connects to a power supply (via a three-prong outlet) and your water supply (via a small hose), and then you press buttons to make it do its thing.

When you're talking about the model that I got, "its thing" includes Rear Wash (a very focused stream of water pointed right at your butt hole), Soft Rear Wash (more gentle streams of water pointed more generally at your butt hole region), Front Wash (water pointed at your vulva), and Dryer (a fan that blows warm air all over your bits both front and back.) You can control all sorts of things like water temperature, pressure, and angle.

There are other bells and whistles too — a heated toilet seat being one, and a "pre-mist" function that basically wets down the inside of your toilet seat so that your poo doesn't stick to the porcelain. These things don't matter that much to me, but one friend went so far as to say that the pre-mist function was cool enough that he'd buy one for that alone. (Different people have different sticky-poo issues, I guess.)

How to install a Toto Washlet

If you're me, this is a one-step process: CALL A PLUMBER.

Even though installation is super easy, a friend gave me the tip that if a plumber installed my Toto Washlet, I could then call that plumber if something went wrong in the future, which is a nice perk. So, when my kitchen sink faucet finally disintegrated and needed to be replaced, I bundled the jobs together and called a plumber. Installation took less than half an hour, since the Toto Washlet basically just gets plugged into the wall and then attached to your water supply via one quick hose. If you're handy, you could easily DIY it in like 15 minutes. I am just lazy and wanted to be able to rely on someone else if the thing stopped working right because, again, lazy.

Ok, so what's it feel like?

  • Rear Wash: it feels like a pointy stream of water going up your butt.
  • Soft rear: it feels like a softer sprinkle going on your butt.
  • Front wash: depending on how you position yourself, it's either a nice cleaning stream of water or (DOUBLE PRESS FOR OSCILLATION OPTION!) something more entertaining. Have fun with that!

You get to control pressure, temperature, and angle, so it's never uncomfortable… although that first Rear Wash might be a little alarming. WHEEE!

What's awesome about it?

My friends who've lived in Japan and Europe always side-eye me when I talk about my Toto, like "Srsly, girl? You're just now figuring out that it's nicer to wash your butt than it is to use a dry piece of low-quality paper to scrape that shit off?" But if you're like me, this is something you've just never really thought of. Toilet paper is how you do things. It's how you've always done things. What is this washing your under-carriage madness?

Well, it's freaking awesome, that's what it is. You actually get, like, actually clean. Yes, you could achieve this with a peri bottle (right, postpartum folks? RIGHT?) or even just a freaking water bottle next to the toilet with a wash cloth (family cloth, anyone?). You totally could do that. You totally should do that. But, if you're like me, and you like pre-heated water and pre-misting and oscillations and the idea of a robot butt-butler washing your behind, this is a nice upgrade from that more basic option.

It's great for poop. It's great for pee. It's great for menstrual blood. It's great for post-coital clean-up. It's great for when you're sick out the butt. It's great for children — both in terms of them actually using it (no more shouts from my 6-year-old for help with wiping — y'all feelin' me here, moms?) and in terms of entertainment (my son figured out that "front wash" can reach the sink mirror across the room if he games it right. HA!). My parents asked me if I worried that having a Toto would make my son unable to wipe his own butt, and I was all, "I don't know, lets ask those generations of Europeans and Japanese folks how that's worked for them."


…You could say I'm not too worried about it.

What's meh about it?

The dryer takes a long time to actually dry your butt — like, five minutes. This means that you will likely spend more time drying your butt than pooping. One friend asked if this was an issue of taint hair (side bonus of having a Toto: you get to have conversations with friends about taint hair!), but that's not it. Even if you're one of those waxed types, it just takes a while for a little fan to dry your butt. It's not like it's a Dyson Air Blade going up your ass. It's just a gentle little whirring fan, so now I have a copy of the Tao Te Ching next to the toilet to encourage folks to get comfortable and patient with it. Butt-drying mindfulness! It's a thing!

This particular model has a very small-in-diameter toilet seat. I have a small-ish toilet and am an small-to-medium sized person so it's fine for me, but taller and wider folks have reported feeling like they're perched on an itty-bitty widdle dolly toilet.

It does sit pretty high up on your toilet. I mean, my toilet now feels like a slightly elevated high-tech command center. I'm ok with it, but it's not a low-profile situation.

I also still haven't figured out how to hide the cord, which stretches across my bathroom right now. That's strictly an issue of aesthetics, but it's worth considering where your bathroom outlet is in relation to your toilet.

The tl;dr

This is a luxury item. It is unnecessary and kind of silly, and kind of awesome. I recommend it.

Recent Comments

  • Katie: I have IBS and got a 'prescription' for the washlet from my doctor. I was reimbursed for it via my… [Link]
  • Ariel Meadow Stallings: On my model, the wand self-cleans before and after every use, and then you can also click "wand clean" and… [Link]
  • KathyRo: Thanks, Dootsie. I could have cheerfully ignored that issue for the rest of my life. No, I think… [Link]
  • Dootsie Bug: Have you had to clean it? Can you just swipe at it with the toilet brush and SnoBol or do… [Link]
  • SamanthaB: YASSSSS BUTT HOSE 4 LYFE [Link]

+ 14 more! Join the discussion

25 Aug 11:54

The Best Chainsaw

by Doug Mahoney

Wow, this whole series is taking the cake! Thank goodness we are investing in them....

Even though it is on the small side for a chainsaw, the Ego can still cut decent-size logs.

The best chainsaw for most people is the cordless Ego Power+ 16″ Chainsaw, a decision we reached after spending five days in the New Hampshire woods with six chainsaws, and having a pro tree worker with 14 years’ experience use them on the job for an additional three days this summer.

24 Aug 20:31

Universe/Futurology/Create a board game/Truecaller

by Claudia Lamar


I’ve had a lot of fun in the past few days playing with a new iOS app that creates a mosaic of video, still images, and sound, and into which you can also paste code to create animations and actions. They are cool post-gif loops. You then share and follow others who are creating. Still in beta, it’s called Universe. Follow me! — KK

Last year I started using a Salux Japanese Nylon washcloth (reviewed on Cool Tools), and I won’t ever go back. No other product has made me feel this clean before. It exfoliates, but it’s not as rough as some gloves or loofahs I have tried, and I use the one labeled “super hard.” — CL

A series I am binging on is Silicon Valley. I know all these people and every detail of their lives and situations is pitch perfect right on. The producers get the tiniest details exactly right, from the technology to the mannerisms, as well as their bigger narrative. I haven’t laughed so much is ages. At the same time, it’s a remarkably fantastic advanced class in what technology companies are *really* like; whether you want to work in one, or start one: watch this series. — KK

Reddit’s Futurology subreddit features news stories that point to our future. “New antibiotic found in human nose.” “Singapore Scientists Grow Mini Human Brains.” “Should a human-pig chimera be treated as a person?” I visit it daily. — MF

I recently bought the Junior Game Inventors Kit to build with my soon-to-be stepson. We had a lot of fun creating a board design and brainstorming “consequence” and “reward” cards. We didn’t get a chance to finish and play the game, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves. Very reasonable price for a kit that inspires creativity. — CL

Truecaller is a free, ad-supported smartphone app that blocks telemarketers’ calls. When a call from a spammer comes in, your phone will display a red screen that says “Identified as Spam.” And if a telemarketer slips through, you can easily add the number to Truecaller’s database. — MF

Want to get our next Recomendo a week early in your inbox? Sign up for next Sunday newsletter here.

-- Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Lamar

19 Aug 15:55

Free Tiny House Plans - Quartz Model with Bathroom

by Ana White

Relevant to some of you!

Well, it took me forever, but I finally got it done!

After getting so much crap (hehehe no pun intended there) about creating a tiny house without a bathroom, I promised you a modified version with full ammenities.

This proved to be a little more difficult than I thought, because I'm a stickler for things looking balanced on the inside and out. Changing the floor plan meant changing windows - windows that had been very carefully placed for maximum curb appeal.  Here's what I finally came up with - 

I moved the kitchen to the front wall, and placed the bathroom where the kitchen was.  The windows on the front are carefully placed to allow a stove and sink to fit under and between.  This does mean we loose the end door, and the desks that convert to a table, but you can still place a smaller desk under the remaining window.  When you go tiny, you have to comprimise on some things.  I feel like this is a good balance of keeping that open feeling, while adding all the ammenities.  And did you notice the full size appartment fridge?

One thing I did not do is account for water tanks and utility storage.  Depending on your climate, you can do a few different things.  If it must be insulated, the corner of the kitchen could hold tanks, or there is storage on top of the bathroom.  If freezing isn't an issue, tanks could be stored outside or underneath.  I'd love to hear how you tackle that one, so if you do build, please share.

Well, here are the plans!  Enjoy!  Can't wait to see your tiny house!

XO Ana




PS - Make sure you check out the original plans as they are very similar and there is alot of added information through videos and projects that you can find here.




15 Aug 17:37

Miracles <3Kimchi Cuddles is made possible entirely through...


Kimchi Cuddles is made possible entirely through support from viewers like you! Check out the monthly rewards for becoming a Kimchi patron!

15 Aug 11:59

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

10 Aug 12:15

#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 20:06

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.

03 Aug 15:51


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 18:55

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

01 Aug 14:29

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.

29 Jul 15:18

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 20:12

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 17:15

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.

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

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.

—Please make note of The Mary Sue’s general comment policy.—

Do you follow The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, & Google +?

26 Jul 15:24

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

25 Jul 15:56

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

25 Jul 14:37

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!

22 Jul 12:33

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
18 Jul 13:46

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 12:46

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.

14 Jul 12:32

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 15:32

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 17:31

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

24 Jun 15:54

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.

16 Jun 18:20

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.

01 Jun 18:12

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.

26 May 13:10

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.