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10 Best Authentic Food Travel Experiences in 2017

by Rosemary @ Authentic Food Quest

The post 10 Best Authentic Food Travel Experiences in 2017 appeared first on Authentic Food Quest.

There's nothing traditional about an immigrant Christmas

There's nothing traditional about an immigrant Christmas


Public Radio International

Christmas feels unavoidable in the United States, but not all Americans celebrate the holiday. Many non-Christian immigrants develop their own take on the day, while others simply avoid it altogether.

Why winter is the perfect time to travel in Canada

Why winter is the perfect time to travel in Canada

by Amy Foyster @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Fewer tourists, epic vistas, comfort food and snow: here are a few of our favourite reasons to pack your thermals and book a trip to Canada this winter.

The post Why winter is the perfect time to travel in Canada appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Top 8 Things for Kids in Houston This Week: January 22 to 28, 2018

by Zahira Gutierrez @ 365 Things to Do in Houston

Make the most of your week with our top 8 things to do with kids in Houston, from Monday, January 22 to Sunday, January 28, 2018.  Also in January 2018 Top 15 Events This Month Top 10 Games & Sports Events Top 10 Food & Drink Events Top 9 Live Shows & Concerts Top 8 Plays […]

The post Top 8 Things for Kids in Houston This Week: January 22 to 28, 2018 appeared first on 365 Things to Do in Houston.

Best Fermented Foods from Around the World

by Ekaterina @ Happy Bellyfish

The post Best Fermented Foods from Around the World appeared first on Happy Bellyfish.

Chef and author Andy Ricker gives us a crash course in Northern Thai cuisine

Chef and author Andy Ricker gives us a crash course in Northern Thai cuisine

by Intrepid Travel @ Intrepid Travel Blog

American chef Andy Ricker has built his reputation on dishes with names like laap pet issan, muu paa kham waan, khao soi. This is northern Thai food at its best.

The post Chef and author Andy Ricker gives us a crash course in Northern Thai cuisine appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Dining etiquette in Asia: Everything you need to know

Dining etiquette in Asia: Everything you need to know

by Carrie Pallardy @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Trying new foods is one of the best parts of traveling in Asia, but with new cuisines comes new customs. Luckily, we created a handy etiquette guide to help.

The post Dining etiquette in Asia: Everything you need to know appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Dive into the deep history of maritime with exhibitions at the Houston Maritime Museum

by Cody Swann @ 365 Things to Do in Houston

Keep Houston’s maritime heritage alive while checking out collections and exhibits, educational programs and more at the Houston Maritime Museum. Located near Rice University and the Texas Medical Center, the HMM engages visitors in the history of ships and sea exploration with more than 150 ship models exhibited (ranging from ancient vessels to the present […]

The post Dive into the deep history of maritime with exhibitions at the Houston Maritime Museum appeared first on 365 Things to Do in Houston.

What it’s like to road trip through Mongolia

What it’s like to road trip through Mongolia

by Annapurna Mellor @ Intrepid Travel Blog

From the traditional Gers planted on a lonely steppe, to the rolling sand dunes of the Gobi Desert. Annapurna Mellor shares her experiences of road tripping across Mongolia.

The post What it’s like to road trip through Mongolia appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

5 foods to try in Burgundy, France

5 foods to try in Burgundy, France

by Amy Foyster @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Whether you’d rather kick off your day with a Pain au chocolat or stuff your face full of creamy Camembert, there is no disputing that France is a foodie’s paradise.

The post 5 foods to try in Burgundy, France appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Warm Asian Salmon Salad

by Caroline Phelps @ Pickled Plum Food And Drinks

I’m not afraid to say it – This is THE BEST Asian salmon salad I’ve ever had! There’s nothing boring about this wholesome, filling and refreshing meal. The flavors are perfectly balanced – sweet, salty, nutty, refreshing, amazing. I feel re-energized just thinking about it!  Warm Asian Salmon Salad As far as healthy salad recipes...

The post Warm Asian Salmon Salad appeared first on Pickled Plum Food And Drinks.

How to see the best of Bali, minus the crowds

How to see the best of Bali, minus the crowds

by Jen Welch @ Intrepid Travel Blog

From hot springs to spring rolls, rolling rice terraces to volcano climbs at sunrise… need I continue? This place is awesome. Go.

The post How to see the best of Bali, minus the crowds appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Being L. Bloom

Being L. Bloom

by Julie Subrin @ Vox Tablet

Editor’s note: This podcast is now available for educational use only. For more information, please email podcast@nextbook.org. L. Bloom was born in Sung-Nam, Korea. Adopted as an infant, like her brother, she grew up in a town an hour west of Boston. She’s got relatives in Brookline and Jerusalem, and close friends who are Korean- […]

Prying Eyes

Prying Eyes

by Vox Tablet @ Vox Tablet

Eve Sicular is the founder of and drummer for the bands Metropolitan Klezmer and Isle of Klezbos, but her new work offers much more than traditional music. It’s called J. Edgar Klezmer – Songs from My Grandmother’s FBI Files. In the show, Eve combines archival materials, spoken word, and original songs from a variety of […]

From ceviche to sushi: a guide to Lima’s food scene

From ceviche to sushi: a guide to Lima’s food scene

by Amber Dunlap @ Intrepid Travel Blog

If there’s one thing limeños know and appreciate, it’s seafood. Here are the must-try dishes and must-visit restaurants in Lima.

The post From ceviche to sushi: a guide to Lima’s food scene appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

The Best Foam Rollers

The Best Foam Rollers

by Lauren Schwartzberg @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

If you do it right, and with the right equipment, foam rolling is a deep-tissue massage you can give yourself at home, every single day, by rolling around on the floor. Here’s how it works: A cylinder of firm foam pushes up against sore muscles and fascia, the thin layer of tissue that surrounds muscles, to loosen targeted areas, prevent injuries, and just make you feel good both before and after working out (and when you’re just feeling like a good stretch while watching TV). Because of all that, fitness people love them. “I geek out with foam rollers because they’re so awesome,” says Alice Toyonaga who co-founded Modo Yoga. “They help improve the health of tissues—improving oxygen and blood flow through our fascia—help relieve muscles and joint pain, and increase mobility. What else can you want?”

But perhaps the better question is, which one should I get? Overall, trainers and instructors across the board suggest that you should be looking for something lightweight, compact enough for storing, and dense enough to dig into trigger points. Below, we’ve collected a selection of the best of the best that meet all those requirements. Five experts, from SLT instructors to yogis to CrossFit lovers, actually selected the same TriggerPoint model (the one you might’ve heard about; read more below), but three others voted for the most basic dense Amazon version, and we also heard rave reviews for all the collapsible, travel-size, and vibrating options in between. So let the trainers themselves convince you of what foam roller is the muscle massager you need most.

“The Vyper by HyperIce has three levels of penetrating vibration, so it gets deeper into muscles than any other foam roller I’ve used.” Danny Musico, celebrity personal trainer

HyperIce Vyper
$179, Amazon

“Maybe it’s from my ballet background, but even as I entered the fitness world, I still go traditional when it comes to foam rollers. I like something smooth, and fairly dense. Even the basic AmazonBasics High-Density Foam roller works great. I like the longer 36-inch rollers so that you can use it not only for self myofascial release in muscles, but also stability ab exercises. I prefer the smooth rollers over textured, to evenly massage out muscles, but I’m sure it’s a personal preference.” —Julie Cobble, master instructor, Physique 57

AmazonBasics High-Density Round Foam Roller
$19, Amazon

“I use the deep-tissue foam roller after any lengthy yoga practice. I love loosening up and relaxing the muscles I worked; it feels so incredible, almost like getting a massage. It helps to relieve tension, soothe aches, and work out any knots. It’s a great addition to any recovery routine after your workout. Another great thing is that it can also be used in a variety of yoga poses, like under the knees in savasana or in place of a block in other yoga poses.”Perry Kronfeld, yoga instructor

Gaiam Restore Deep Tissue Foam Roller
$35, Amazon

“After going through a wave of trials, I’ve found that a basic high-density foam roller is it for me. It’s firm, smooth, yet provides friction so that it can adhere to your skin, which helps to smooth out fascia (the connective outer layer of tissue that encases muscles). Most people don’t realize that they’re most likely in need of rolling out their fascia rather than their muscles. This classic tool is like a ‘dough roller’ for your connective tissues. Find a sensitive spot, hold there for about 30 seconds applying continuous pressure, and gradually make your way up the muscle.” —Lauren Bustos, Liftonic

Foam Roller, LuxFit Premium High Density Foam Roller
$5, Amazon

“I like Spri foam rollers because of their texture. The rollers have a bumpy surface, which allows for more mobility in the muscle during your workout.” —David Barton, founder, TMPL Gym

SPRI Deep Tissue Muscle Massage Roller
$60, Amazon

“I roll daily, and my favorite by far is the TriggerPoint. It’s just the right density to be effective without bruising. A lot of rollers are too hard and will bruise rather than release (but if you like something on the denser side, TriggerPoint has an option for that, too). It’s the perfect size that allows you to target all major parts of the body, while being compact enough to travel with. It won’t dent or lose its shape, therefore maintaining its effectiveness for a number of years.” —Radan Sturm, Liftonic

TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller
$37, Amazon

“I love the Morph collapsible foam roller because it’s portable and amazing to travel with.” —Gunnar Peterson, celebrity personal trainer

The Morph Collapsible Foam Roller
$150, Amazon

“I love the versatility of RolPal: You can either roll it on your body, place your body on it for active release, or use it to roll out a client. It’s made of 100 percent silicone, so it molds to your body, and the bumps feel like fingertips, giving you an extra-deep release without feeling abrasive.” —Anna Kaiser, founder, AKT

RolPal
$365, RolPal


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

The Best Gifts for Health and Wellness Nuts

The Best Gifts for Health and Wellness Nuts

by Samuel Anderson @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

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

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

Kule x Bandier Williams Trackpants
$135, Bandier

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

Outdoor Voices Strata Silverstone Bodysuit
$85, Outdoor Voices

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

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

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

Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch
$270, Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fire Cider Vinegar
$17, Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

11SKIN Radiant Skin Beauty Dose
$160, Revolve

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

REN Wake Wonderful Night-Time Facial
$29, Amazon

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

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

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

Survival and Cross Adjustable Jump Rope
$10, Amazon

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

You Have It Made by Ellie Krieger
$17, Amazon

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

How to survive an airport stopover

How to survive an airport stopover

by Intrepid Travel @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Being stranded at an airport is like being stuck on a cities’ front doorstep. A doorstep full of cheap fast food, uncomfortable chairs and far too much duty-free temptation. Here's how to survive.

The post How to survive an airport stopover appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Festive food: what do you eat on Christmas Eve?

Festive food: what do you eat on Christmas Eve?


the Guardian

Katy Salter: The meal everyone has been waiting for all year is set in stone on Christmas Day, but why doesn't tradition dictate what we eat on the eve of turkey day?

The Best Gifts for a Star Wars Superfan

The Best Gifts for a Star Wars Superfan

by Leah Bhabha @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

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


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

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


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

Star Wars Death Star Serving Platter
$22, Amazon


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

Star Wars Boba Fett Sunglasses Gift Set
$8, Amazon



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

Star Wars Porgs Plush
$25, Amazon


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

I Am Your Father Shirt
$20, Red Bubble


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

Star Wars R2-D2 Coffee Press
$40, Amazon



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

Funko Pop! Star Wars Ahsoka Rebels
$23, Amazon



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

Star Wars Symbols Ladies’ Blazer
$60, Think Geek


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

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


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

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



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

Star Wars Tauntaun Sleeping Bag
$199, Amazon



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

Star Wars Hero Droid BB-8
$190, Amazon



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

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

Bonus Gift Idea



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

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

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

Toy Story

Toy Story

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

A guide to the world’s best-kept culinary secret: the cuisine of the Caucasus

A guide to the world’s best-kept culinary secret: the cuisine of the Caucasus

by Neil Coletta @ Intrepid Travel Blog

While the landscapes, customs and cultures are reason enough to visit, nowhere is the true character of the region more evident than in its distinctive food traditions.

The post A guide to the world’s best-kept culinary secret: the cuisine of the Caucasus appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

The wining and dining guide to Mendoza

The wining and dining guide to Mendoza

by Doug Whyte @ Intrepid Travel Blog

From traditional parrillas and urban cafes, to world-class bodegas beyond the city centre. Here’s the rundown on the best places to eat and drink in Mendoza.

The post The wining and dining guide to Mendoza appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

9 Unique Ilocos Food to Delight on in the Philippines

by Claire @ Authentic Food Quest

The post 9 Unique Ilocos Food to Delight on in the Philippines appeared first on Authentic Food Quest.

Top 10 Things to Do This Week in Houston: January 22 to 28, 2018

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

Make the most of your week with our top 10 event picks happening in Houston from Monday, January 22 to Sunday, January 28, 2018. Also in January 2018 Top 15 Events This Month Top 10 Games & Sports Events Top 10 Food & Drink Events Top 9 Live Shows & Concerts Top 8 Plays & […]

The post Top 10 Things to Do This Week in Houston: January 22 to 28, 2018 appeared first on 365 Things to Do in Houston.

Everything you need to know about mountain gorilla trekking

Everything you need to know about mountain gorilla trekking

by James Shackell @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Getting to the gorillas takes more effort, more time and more expense than a traditional safari. But you know what they say: you get what you pay for.

The post Everything you need to know about mountain gorilla trekking appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

You should go to Portugal just for the food. Here’s why.

You should go to Portugal just for the food. Here’s why.

by Megan Arzbaecher @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Despite the curious looks people give us when we say we went to Portugal for our honeymoon, my husband and I couldn’t have imagined a better way to start off our marriage than eating our way through Europe's most underrated food destination.

The post You should go to Portugal just for the food. Here’s why. appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

The Best Cookbooks to Give

The Best Cookbooks to Give

by Ashlea Halpern @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Palestinian Table by Reem Kassis
$25, Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 unique Italian dishes to try, by region

7 unique Italian dishes to try, by region

by Melissa Ariganello @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Here are seven Italian dishes you likely haven’t tried yet, in a region-by-region guide that'll leave you drooling...

The post 7 unique Italian dishes to try, by region appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

“Is there meat in this beef?”: A vegetarian’s guide to Beijing

“Is there meat in this beef?”: A vegetarian’s guide to Beijing

by Melissa Spurgin @ Intrepid Travel Blog

As a vegetarian, there‘s more to China than plain steamed rice.

The post “Is there meat in this beef?”: A vegetarian’s guide to Beijing appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

The Best Gifts for Every Type of Boss

The Best Gifts for Every Type of Boss

by Strategist Editors @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Buying a gift for your boss can be a potential minefield. Spend too much and you risk making her feel uncomfortable. Spend too little and you might as well not get anything at all. We went and found gifts for every type of boss there is, all of which hit that perfect sweet spot between too personal and just personal enough.

For the Frazzled Boss

Don’t try to get them to bullet journal (not happening). Instead, try a productivity planner with inspirational mantras and proven organizational techniques.

Productivity Planner
$25, Amazon

For the Frazzled Boss Into Florals

If your boss needs a reason to get into a 17-month planner, what better one than this gorgeous illustrated version from Florida company Rifle Paper Co.?

Rifle Paper Co. 17-Month Planner
$34, Amazon

For the Boss With a Sad Office Desk

Zhuzh it up with an optimistic succulent in a neat, clean-lined terrarium.

Tabletop Succulent Planter
$23, Amazon

For the Boss With Office-Chair Posture

Those cheap desk chairs do a number on your back, but the BackJoy forces you to sit better (here’s another chair add-on we love for better chair posture, too).

BackJoy SitSmart Posture Plus
$40, Amazon

For the .0001 Percent Boss

If your boss is megarich (and has a sense of humor), a tongue-in-cheek take on the very moneyed class, in the vein of The Official Preppy Handbook.

The Official Filthy Rich Handbook
$10, Amazon

For the Thirsty Boss

Our very favorite water bottle—and coffee thermos and beach beverage holder—is something your boss won’t even know they needed.

Zojirushi Stainless Steel Water Bottle
$24, Amazon

For the Extra Thirsty Boss

When your boss needs something a little stronger than coffee, you can’t beat the original Stanley flask (throw in a mini bottle of bourbon for good measure).

Stanley Classic Flask
$12, Amazon

For the Boss Who’d Rather Be Golfing

We get it—something about the back nine and par and a birdie or whatever. Now they can putt in the office.

Putt-A-Bout Par 3
$34, Amazon

For the Fit Boss

The new super-slim Fitbit tracks steps and sleep patterns but is also swim-proof—for the triathletes who have to clock in.

Fitbit Flex 2
$60, Amazon

For the Youth-Obsessed Boss

Save this for a boss you’re chummy with (it can come off as, um, insulting), but the power of retinols for reducing fine lines and wrinkles is undeniable.

Radha Beauty Retinol Moisturizer
$19, Amazon

For the First-In, Last-Out Boss

Not subtle by any means, but gifting them Arianna’s book on the importance of work-life balance may be the best gift they (and you) every get.

Thrive by Arianna Huffington
$12, Amazon

For the Boss Who’s Obsessed With Luke

A lot of Stars Hollow–themed gifts are too cheesy to use in real life—this mug is actually cute, even if you’re not a Gilmore fan.

Gilmore Girls Luke’s Mug
$15, Amazon

For the Boss With Low Blood Sugar

Healthy(ish) snacks from Today show health expert Joy Bauer.

Nourish Snacks Monkey Love
$19, Amazon

For the Yoga-at-Lunch Boss

A gym bag doesn’t have to look like a gym bag—this one from Baggu’s cool enough for work, weekend, and even a night out.

Baggu Basic Tote
$180, Amazon

For the Boss Who’s Always Cold

Help them regulate the temperature with a cozy Pendleton wool blanket.

Pendleton Eco-Wise Washable Throw
$119, Amazon

For the Boss Who’s Stressed

Our favorite stress-relief toy: a rubbery sand mixture that’s a tactile delight. Just squeezing and releasing the sand clears the tension.

Kinetic Sand
$20, Amazon

For the Boss Who’s Really Stressed

When Kinetic Sand just won’t cut it, a Shiatsu kneading massager for head, back, and feet may be the big-ticket item that does the trick.

Gideon Shiatsu Kneading Massage Pillow
$35, Amazon

For the Boss Who Packs a Lunch

Make it fun and stackable with a dishwasher- and microwave-safe set of bento boxes.

Monbento Boxes
$33, Amazon

For the Boss Who Needs a Reading Light

A desk lamp that doesn’t look like a desk lamp, this Scandinavian mixed-media version could belong in a museum.

Tomons Scandinavian Reading Light
$35, Amazon

For the Boss Who’s Better Than the Supply Closet

No generic No. 2’s for them! The Japanese-made Midori brass pencil case gives everything they write extra gravitas—it saves pencils that are down to their last nubs, too.

Midori Brass Pencil Case
$28, Amazon

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

M&S has a Christmas pudding surprise in its new festive lunchtime treats

by @ Richmond and Twickenham Times | Food

M&S has launched its festive lunchtime treats and it is getting us in the mood for Christmas.

Fear in the Family

Fear in the Family

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

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

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

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

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I am a stay-at-home mom with a 2-year-old toddler. My husband has a 13-year-old son with his ex. We have a restraining order against her after she threatened me while I was pregnant. Right now, my stepson lives with us full time and only has supervised visits with his mother. He used to be a sweet, shy kid, but now I am afraid of him. My stepson has anger issues and is 6 inches taller than me. He has cursed at me, broken plates, and left holes in walls. I don’t trust him near my daughter. My husband is trying, but he can’t be home until 7 most nights. I leave the house with my daughter until he gets home. I don’t want to be alone in the house with my stepson. We are paying out of pocket for weekly therapy, and it is not working. I am tired. I am afraid. I am out of options. My husband is a good man and a good father, but I feel he is failing us in favor of my stepson. I want to feel the love I had for the little boy at my wedding, but all I feel is fear that the next glass he throws will be at my daughter’s head instead of the wall. I don’t know what to do.
—Frightened Stepmom

If you’re at the point where you have to leave your own home with your daughter every day until your husband gets off work, you’re right that what you and your husband have tried thus far isn’t working, and something needs to change immediately. I have sympathy for your stepson, who is still a child in need of counseling and support. Your husband must find a therapeutic intervention that provides him with the help he needs to communicate nonviolently. If your stepson is seeing a regular talk therapist, and it’s not helping, your husband should consider finding someone who specializes in anger management, behavioral intervention, and preventing violence. But in the meantime, your priority needs to be your daughter’s safety. If you have to remove her from her home for hours every weekday, then you need to find somewhere else to live immediately. Your current situation is destabilizing and dangerous for her.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I have more than once had sex, or gone further than I was really comfortable going with men, for the sake of preserving their feelings, or because I felt I had already taken things too far to back out. Almost all of my female friends have a similar story. How do I convince myself that I don’t need to have sex with someone to protect their feelings? And how do I find the words to politely end a sexual encounter after I become uncomfortable?
—Opting Out

Unlearning the message that you are responsible, as a woman, for making a man feel always comfortable is the work of a lifetime! The language itself is fairly simple and straightforward. There are dozens of ways to politely stop a sexual encounter: “Thanks for a nice evening, but I’m not feeling a connection, so I’m going to go home”; “I’m not comfortable with this anymore; let’s stop”; “I’m not coming in, good night.” The bigger problem, which you’ve already identified, is overriding the voice in your brain that says Oh my God, I couldn’t possibly say that, even if it were true. He’d be so offended, and I’d hurt his pride, and what if he tried to point out that I seemed to be having a good time earlier? I don’t want to get into an argument over this; it’d be easier just to go along for now and then leave as soon as it’s over.

Think of it this way. You sound like a sensitive and empathetic person—you would presumably not want to have sex with a man who actually felt uncomfortable and disinterested in sleeping with you, who was simply going along with you because he was anxious about hurting your feelings. If you found out that a man you were about to sleep with felt this way, you would stop immediately, because you would be wholly uninterested in having sex with a partner who was not genuinely enthusiastic. You would not want him to put on a good show, grit his teeth, and get through it. So treat yourself with the same kindness and generosity. I hope you find partners who cheerfully and graciously accept “Hey, this isn’t working for me anymore—let’s stop” as a normal thing to hear on a date. I hope you’re able to give yourself permission to stop a sexual encounter without feeling like you need to apologize or that you’re trying to break a lease before your rental agreement is up. Going on a date, flirting with someone, kissing someone, testing your chemistry—these aren’t links in a chain of events that leads to an irreversible “We have to have sex now” contract that you’re obligated to uphold against your own wishes, inclinations, and desires.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I’m recently getting back into dating after 11 years of marriage. The dating scene is very different than it used to be. I’ve been using an app to meet men because it seems like that’s what the kids are doing these days and I don’t have a lot of options to meet people in my everyday life. It just so happens that I’m really good at finding information about people, and as I get to know these men, I dig about to find out more. (My favorite is finding the DUI of a guy even though he’d never told me his name. I also discovered a guy was catfishing me.) I do it for a few reasons. First and foremost, it turns out that most men are full of it, at least those on dating apps. I want to weed out the people who aren’t worth my time. It’s also a challenge, and a delightful puzzle. Because I see it as a puzzle, I usually end up down a rabbit hole of information about these guys. I find their jobs, their homes, sometimes the homes they grew up in, Instagram accounts, Facebook accounts, Twitter feeds, and on and on.

My friends think I’m a bit stalkerish and that I should just let things develop naturally. I’d rather know ahead of time if the guy I’m chatting with is actually married with a 6-week-old. (That really happened.) What say you? Am I intruding on their privacy? I never cross any legal lines to find these things out. It’s all right there on the internet for anyone who’s willing to look. But I usually end up with a hell of a lot more knowledge than they’d probably be willing to share with me.
—Harmless Stalking Is Fun

You don’t need my permission to spend your spare time obsessively researching a bunch of men you already dislike until you find something that confirms your initial mistrust, if that’s what you really want to do. It sounds like a deeply unpleasant use of leisure time to me, but not everyone enjoys the same hobbies. The question isn’t whether you’re doing something right or wrong, exactly; you’re technically right inasmuch as all of this information is freely available. But this goes well beyond a quick social media search before a first date. The important question is: What are you getting out of this? You say that it’s like solving a puzzle, which is fine, but you don’t seem to be going on many dates, you’re not seeking out men you like and trying to get to know them better, and you’re not letting anybody get to know you. You’re staying at home, prowling into the corners of strangers’ personal histories, and then feeling satisfied when you find a reason not to trust them.

If this is fun for you, then by all means, keep doing it; you’re not actively hurting anyone and the primary person whose time you’re wasting is you. But if your friends seem concerned, and if you sometimes catch yourself wondering, “Why can’t I stop doing this?” then it might be worth asking yourself what you’re getting out of this behavior, and what it stems from—whether that’s a fear of dating, a belief that every man who expresses romantic interest is actually out to get you, or a burgeoning interest in a criminal justice career.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I just married my husband this summer after five years together. I had noticed that his relationship with his mother was not healthy. She consistently makes poor decisions, then expects both of her sons to swoop in and fix things. Two days after our wedding, she had a full-on breakdown. She threatened suicide if we left the city (we live across the country from her). We took her to the hospital, and she was put on suicide watch for three days. Since then, she’s gone to therapy but doesn’t seem to be changing her behavior or really giving the process a shot. She badgers my husband and his brother every day and is unable to make any significant decision without spending hours on the phone with one of them first.

She now has to move out of her current housing but refuses to live anywhere that is “below her,” and she changes her mind about where she wants to live more than once a day. She texts or calls her sons incessantly. My husband is at his wit’s end. But he refuses to seek out counseling for himself because he “doesn’t have the time right now.” I have offered to research options, and he says I should focus my energy on helping him with his mother instead. I am exhausted, and I can’t stand watching him let her walk all over him. I don’t know how to move forward, or how to get him to set real boundaries. He has tried, but she eventually wears him down, and he is so afraid she will end up homeless or dead if he doesn’t help her, he won’t listen to reason. Our first year of marriage has turned into a nightmare, and I just don’t know how much longer we can take this. Should I intervene with his mother? Are there resources for how to help family members stuck in these situations? She is more than just depressed—I think she has some kind of social disorder—but I can’t get my husband to accept the facts.
—Distressed Daughter-in-Law

Oh, my friend. It’s painful that your husband “doesn’t have the time” to see a therapist because he’s currently spending all of his spare time talking his mother down through one crisis after another—he has plenty of time, it’s just a matter of how he chooses to spend it. You married him knowing that he had no healthy boundaries with his mother, and you’re starting to see how that’s going to cause problems for you if you stay married to him. You can’t control your mother-in-law, and you can’t control your husband; what you can do is look after yourself right now. If she won’t take therapy seriously, and your husband refuses to go, then you can still make an appointment and start seeing someone right away.

Without going into detail about potential mental health diagnoses for your mother-in-law, I’m fairly certain that the help she needs isn’t for her sons to be on the phone with her nine or 10 times a day. Whether or not you’re able to persuade your husband to try something different with her, you can at least decide for yourself that you’re not going to dedicate multiple hours of each day to managing your husband’s relationship with her. A therapist will be able to help you find ways to set and maintain limits with him—and determine whether it’s possible for your marriage to be anything other than a nightmare.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I’ve recently become engaged. I’ve been a vegetarian for ethical reasons for more than 20 years, and my fiancé, while not a vegetarian himself, often eats vegetarian food with me. I’d like our wedding dinner to be meat-free, but my fiancé is very against this. He thinks most people will expect meat (his family is full of “meat-and-potatoes” types) and won’t enjoy the meal otherwise. I don’t want to serve meat at my wedding. I feel very strongly about this, but my fiancé thinks I’m forcing my beliefs on everyone and “taking away their choice.” It’s not like I want to pass out pamphlets or tell people what to eat at other meals—I’d just like to serve a meal that’s incidentally vegetarian and delicious. I’m not sure if it matters, but his parents are not helping pay for the wedding, it is mostly us and my parents. How do we resolve this?
—Animal Lover

I hope your fiancé isn’t normally this petulant, because asking your wedding guests to eat a single meal of lasagna (or pizza, or burritos, or any number of perfectly ordinary vegetarian dishes) is an awfully far cry from “taking away their choice” to eat as much meat as they like on any given day. You’ve been a vegetarian for more than 20 years; this long-standing conviction of yours should come as no surprise to him. It’s odd that on other occasions he’s eaten vegetarian meals with you without complaint or concern, but the idea of doing so on his wedding day feels like some sort of abnegation of his freedom. He (and any of your guests who wish it) can have bacon at breakfast, ham at lunch, and a vegetarian dinner in the evening without any harm to their constitution or serious restriction of their dietary choices. Yours is a very reasonable request, and your fiancé should let it go. There will be plenty of meat-filled meals in both his and your guests’ futures.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
My partner and I have been together for about two years now. In many ways, he’s everything I’ve ever wanted. He’s respectful, kind, artistic, and has a great sense of humor. About six months ago, we moved in together, and I’ve realized he’s lazy and irresponsible when it comes to household management. For the first few months, I did 90 percent of the housework. He had recently experienced an unexpected family loss, so I chalked it up to grief. However, things didn’t improve. I ended up making a chore chart to divvy up responsibilities, but I still find myself reminding him three or four times to do a task. And this isn’t minor stuff either. He sleeps in until 4 p.m. on the weekends (not due to staying up late), and often is late to work from oversleeping or misses work entirely. I worry that his forgiving employer will one day fire him on the spot, so I’m constantly urging him to get up and go to work. He is irresponsible with finances, purchasing parts and equipment for projects he never starts.

I’m tired of being his mother. In terms of chores, I either have to nag him incessantly or give in and do things myself. I don’t want to nag and intervene, but I feel compelled to since I care about him and want him to do well in life. I’ve tried talking with him about these things, and he genuinely seems to want to do better but says that disorganization and prioritization have always been issues for him. He says that his “brain doesn’t work” like mine does. If this is the case, I want to be sympathetic, but I still think he should seek help. His employer offers free therapy, and I’ve encouraged him to take advantage of that, since his problems are affecting his ability to achieve his own goals and not just my desire for a clean house. I really want things to work between us, since he’s so wonderful in other ways, but I’m tired of my efforts being unreciprocated. I don’t want to break up with the man I’m in love with over dirty dishes and an upswept floor.

My mom says that I should just deal with the chores myself, since I am the one with higher living standards. My friends say that I shouldn’t worry about his life being in disarray, since it’s his life to live and his mistakes to make. Are my concerns valid? Is this enough of a reason to break up with someone? I feel guilty since I advocated for the move, and I think our relationship would still be just fine if we hadn’t started living together. Furthermore, a breakup at this point would leave one of us without housing. Should I wait until the lease is almost up? Although I’ve brought up my frustrations numerous times, I don’t think he realizes how deeply this matters to me, and I think a breakup would catch him seriously off guard. I don’t want us to end up that way, but I’m running out of strategies and patience.
—Don’t Want to Be a Nag

It’s possible that your boyfriend is depressed—sleeping all hours of the day and having a hard time getting motivated even in the face of potentially serious consequences are certainly signs that he should speak to a doctor about depression. There are a number of other possible conditions that might cause your boyfriend to feel his “brain doesn’t work” like someone else’s, from ADHD to executive function disorder. I don’t mean to claim there’s definitely a diagnosis that “explains” your boyfriend’s behavior, merely that it’s worth speaking to a medical professional about in case there’s support or treatment he currently needs but isn’t receiving. Regardless of whether or not he has a diagnosis, however, you can still make decisions about whether or not you want to live with him. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to break up, either—it may be that living together just isn’t possible, but that you still want to continue your relationship and figure out an arrangement that works better.

I do not endorse your mother’s advice to just do everything for him and ignore your own feelings. That’s a recipe for resentment and eventual estrangement. Since you’re worried this is going to come as a surprise to him, I think you should revisit the topic: “We’ve talked about chore management in a number of little ways, but I want to make it clear that living together is not working for me. I’m doing 90 percent of the housework, and I either have to remind you to do your share multiple times before you get to it, or just do it for you. That’s exhausting and frustrating and it’s not how I want to spend my time. When our lease is up, I’m going to look for somewhere else to live.” If he wants to talk about making changes, that’s great, but I don’t think you should frame the discussion as an ultimatum, because he’s likely to make promises he can’t keep if he thinks it’ll get you to stay. You’re making the choice that’s right for you, and you can encourage him to seek professional help for the difficulty he has functioning on a daily basis. Whether or not he chooses to seek that help is up to him. Your relationship may be able to continue, depending on how you two can set your expectations for one another, but you don’t have to keep living with him (or like this) when it’s causing you so much distress.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

More Dear Prudence

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

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

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

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

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

Friendly Ghost: Why is my pal blowing me off?

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

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

Christmas Celebration In Vietnam - Vietnam Track

Christmas Celebration In Vietnam - Vietnam Track


Vietnam Track

       1/ The Origin of Christmas in Vietnam: You may know that Christmas is not originally from Vietnam nor an official

A definitive list of everything you should eat in Florence

A definitive list of everything you should eat in Florence

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We’ve hunted down the best spots in Florence to grab breakfast, lunch and dinner (along with a few extra treats along the way).

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Taotao Christmas Party

by Nicholas Bernardi @ UTU Masters

I know Christmas holydays are over, but It’s good to remember the good old days. That’s why the topic of this post is the Christmas party organized by Taotao, the student organization of CEAS, just before the Christmas break. It was the 11th of December...

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The 7 best destinations for vegetarian travellers

The 7 best destinations for vegetarian travellers

by Evan Ceretti @ Intrepid Travel Blog

The number of countries with rich culinary histories that are ready to fulfill your vegetarian needs and foodie dreams is steadily growing.

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2. Vietnamese Vegetarian Fried Spring Rolls (4)

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East-West Chicken Stock

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For the most part, Asian meat broths and stocks rarely include a lot of vegetables. Onion and ginger and basically it. No carrot or celery. However, for the Paul Bocuse soup with truffles, I came up with this hybrid recipe. I made it in my Fagor Lux, but you can use an Instant Pot or...

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Our guide to Peru’s tastiest street food

Our guide to Peru’s tastiest street food

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May contain traces of Guinea Pig...

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The mastermind behind Intrepid's exclusive tour menus on why we should go back to our bush tucker roots.

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6 hottest food destinations in Europe for summer 2017

6 hottest food destinations in Europe for summer 2017

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Promotion 1

by admin_orn @ Home | The Orange Lantern Restaurant | Vietnamese Food & Cuisine

Celebrity Chef Specialities

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8 beautiful homestays suitable for holidays (P1)

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The reasonable price, comfortable room and impressive decor are the highlights of these beautiful homestay. Let’s check it out!

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Fostering a Future

Fostering a Future

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

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

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

Mallory Ortberg: Good morning, everybody! Let’s get involved in one another’s business, shall we?

Q: Foster parenting a dating dud?: I’m a 30-year-old single female. It’s always been an aspiration of mine to become a foster parent. There is a tremendous need for it in my county, and I want to help kids and their families. Another desire of mine is to get married and build a family with said husband. Most of my friends and family have been overwhelmingly supportive as I’ve been going through the necessary trainings and background checks to be a foster parent, and I anticipate having my first placement within six months.

However, one friend suggested that I’m setting myself up for old maid status by putting a “barrier between myself and a man who’s interested in me.” My initial response was “good, it’ll help weed out the men not cut out for me,” but upon further thought, perhaps I’m being cavalier? Anyone dating in 2018 knows it isn’t easy. I want love with a life partner, and I want to share love with kids in need—must it be mutually exclusive?

A: Is your friend Rachel Lynde? I’m not sure how helpful your friend is, but she certainly has a way with words. I certainly don’t encourage you to think of any children you might foster as tiny little engagement-ring-blockers. The idea, I suppose, is that it’s only possible to snag a husband if one is as commitment-free and unencumbered as possible, and your hypothetical future mate, who might have been interested in you had you two met at a coffee shop, is going to be scared off if he sees you’ve started parenting without him. There’s some truth to that, in the sense that single parents often have a more challenging time dating than the childless, whether that be arranging for child care in order to go on dates or figuring out how to broach the topic with a new boyfriend or girlfriend without making it sound like they’re looking for a just-add-water stepparent.

This is fairly common knowledge, but I think it bears repeating: Not everyone finds the love of their life, or even a middling-to-good love of their life. Some people are really lovable, really responsible, really earnest, and really want to settle down with someone, and it just doesn’t work out that way. I have no idea if you’ll meet a guy you want to marry, and who wants to marry you; much less whether or not it will happen if you start fostering children first. Probably starting to foster children will make it more challenging, not less, but it’s not the same thing as “setting up a barrier” against marriage. You’re not Sleeping Beauty trapped behind a marriage-repelling wall of briars. You’re saying that you’re ready to start being a foster parent, husband or no husband. You can either wait to find a husband and settle down together (which, as you well know, there’s no guarantee you will) before you do so, or you can start now; I think it makes a lot of sense that you’ve decided you’re ready to move ahead, with or without the husband. If he comes along, that’s great. I hope he does! But if he doesn’t, you won’t have put your life on hold for him.

Q: How do I politely turn down charity?: I’m a nearly 40-year-old single parent (by choice) to a delightful toddler. Last year I moved to a small town for a change of pace and a less expensive lifestyle. I invested a good deal of my savings into opening my own business. I’m by no means wealthy but live a happy, comfortable life.

Over the holidays I had some minor car trouble and asked some friends and family to help diagnose the problem via social media. I took their suggestions and did the repairs myself with very little effort or expense. A few days ago, I noticed the facilitator of a mom-child group I attend post on Facebook asking for donations for a “single mom” with a small child and a remarkably similar car problem in need in the community.

Mutual friends have confirmed this mom is me. It was my birthday and I was out for a drink with close friends when I learned about this and didn’t have an opportunity to respond. The next day I was out of town and again busy, but several people have contacted me to ask about my “car problems” and wondered if I “need anything.”

I find myself so angry and humiliated that I don’t know how to respond. This woman has always seemed like she feels bad for me for being a single mom, but we’re not personally close and I enjoy most aspects of the group she facilitates, so have never felt the need to go out of my way to correct her perception. I understand her intentions may have been good, but when other moms in the group have had similar problems, there was no hat passed around.

How do I politely say that just because I don’t have a husband doesn’t mean I am struggling financially or otherwise? I have a handle on my household finances and don’t appreciate her painting me as financially unstable in my new community as I’m establishing myself as a small-business owner.

A: “Hey, [mutual friend] mentioned that you had started a fundraiser on Facebook for my car problem. I’ve already done the repairs myself and don’t need anything beyond the help diagnosing the problem I’ve already gotten, so please don’t continue to raise money on my behalf. I’m sure you meant well, but in the future, I’m not comfortable having any fundraisers set up in my name when I haven’t specifically asked for help.”

Q: Not the same: My 20-year-old brother came out as gay last year; it wasn’t the biggest surprise and it didn’t bother anyone. His current relationship does. My brother is currently dating a man who is five years older than our own mother. He showers my brother with extremely expensive gifts, plies him with alcohol, and has taken him on spur-of-the-moment trips to Las Vegas.

All of this gives me the creeps and has the rest of our family very worried. My brother gets very defensive any time someone brings it up. My brother has missed school and family events because of this guy. Half the time, he doesn’t even tell anyone where he is going or what he is doing. My brother tries to deflect our concerns by making it about him being gay. When I point out that he called the thirtysomething guys crawling around the college bars for co-eds “creepy” and “pathetic,” he insists it is not the same.

I am really worried about my brother and something happening to him. I have met this guy twice and his behavior around my brother is more like how someone treats a pet rather than a partner (talks down to him, et cetera). What can I do? Is there any way to get through to him?

A: It’s so difficult to figure out how to offer support and also be honest with someone you love who’s in a damaging relationship without making them feel defensive and retreating even further into isolation. I think you should be judicious about expressing your concerns with your brother, since he’s already got his hackles up, and make it clear that you’re not trying to tell him what to do.

If something comes up that troubles you, whether that be the fact that he’s missing school or some aspect of the serious imbalance of power in their relationship, then I think you should raise it but be prepared to back off if necessary. “Hey, I’m worried about [X] and I haven’t seen you much lately. I miss talking to you. I don’t want you to feel like [terrible boyfriend] is an off-limits topic of conversation, or that every time we talk I’m going to try to convince you to leave your relationship, but I’m worried about how much school you’re missing, and I don’t like the way he talks down to you. How are you doing? I’m here to listen, and I promise I’ll drop the subject if you really don’t want to talk about it right now.” Then be as good as your word.

If your brother really doesn’t want to talk about his boyfriend, as painful as that might be for you right now, talk about something else. Keep the line of communication open between the two of you. This doesn’t mean you’ll be able to convince your brother this relationship is unhealthy overnight, but try to think of the work you’re doing now as laying a foundation for when your brother eventually does feel ready to leave.

Q. Difficult to endure: I’m a middle-aged woman with a genetic disorder that makes me very physically unattractive, and I’ve therefore never been able to date. I have managed to cultivate a few platonic friendships with men, however, which I value. But these friends have a habit of pulling back and limiting contact as soon as they’ve have their first experience of being ridiculed by other men for being seen with me in public.

I don’t know how to address this—these aren’t shallow people, and I understand it’s distressing for them when I’m mistaken for their date or partner. I’m used to being harassed just for existing, but this is new to them. Do I wear an “I’m not his girlfriend” T-shirt?

A: They are shallow people if their response to being ridiculed by other men for simply being seen next to you in public is to start acting like they don’t know you. The appropriate response to being harassed by another man (whether he’s a stranger or someone you know) for standing next to your friend is not to retreat in silent embarrassment, it’s to say, “What the hell made you decide to say such a vile thing out loud?”

I’m so sorry that you’re this used to being harassed in public, and that the kinds of men you’ve been able to establish meaningful friendships with have proved to be superficial cowards once they’ve gotten a small taste of what you experience on a daily basis. I understand that your last suggestion was made mostly in jest, but it’s absolutely heartbreaking that you feel on some level an implicit responsibility to tell strangers “Don’t worry, I know my place.” A good friend would rise immediately, publicly, loudly, and enthusiastically to your defense if someone tried to tell them they should be embarrassed for going out in public with you. Any friend whose response is to clam up and stop returning your calls doesn’t deserve the name.

Q: Cream cheese hero: While out of town with my boyfriend, we went to the breakfast buffet at our hotel. We were the only ones in the room of the help-yourself-style breakfast. They were out of cream cheese at the time and I found myself disappointed. Trying to be helpful, my boyfriend went into fixer mode and helped me look around the room to see if I’d missed it or if we could find a stash to replenish the supply, which included him quickly checking in what I’d assumed to be an unlocked closet/storage area. I’m the type of person who assumes that if a door is closed, the staff probably doesn’t want you in there, so I mildly protested to this. After the fact, he mentioned he’d actually jimmied the lock open rather easily with a credit card to get into that room.

The effort to solve my problem is sweet in spirit, but it makes me a little uncomfortable. It’s the most mild breaking and entering I’ve heard of, but it still sort of counts. He sees it as a pretty benign thing, somewhat akin to being resourceful and self-sufficient, and the worst that would have happened if he’d been caught is they would have asked him not to do that. He’s got a mild streak of “let’s toe the line when the stakes are super low and it wouldn’t really matter” attitude while I’m more of a “follow the rules because it’s polite and makes things run smoothly” person. I don’t think he’d do something like that again if I asked him not to, but the question is: Is this a red flag or a harmless, if mildly misguided, thing?

A: My money’s on charming, but charming doesn’t always mean harmless, and with the obvious caveat that I’d be totally embarrassed if someone I was dating broke into a storage closet at a hotel buffet. It’s not a red flag, I don’t think, but if he has a habit of cheerfully disregarding rules and locks (it’d certainly be different if there had been an employee working who could have been alarmed or confused by someone breaking into a storage closet), it might certainly turn yellow, especially if that disregard leads him to steamroll over other people. But on its own, this story doesn’t lead me to think you should be worried about your boyfriend.

That said! You are well within your rights to be a cautious person who does not break rules, and you do not have to keep quiet if he does things that bother you just because his way is more “fun.” If you don’t like something he says or does, if it embarrasses you or seems inconsiderate of others, then speak up, and have a good old-fashioned argument about it.

Q: Re: Turning down charity: You absolutely have to contact the mom soliciting donations and offer a donation! I would act oblivious as to where the money is going and enthusiastic about helping a neighbor in need. Don’t get sucked into small town drama and hold your head high.

A: Oh my god, that’s beautiful and petty, which is one of my favorite combinations. Thank you for this. (I still think your best bet is to be direct, but this is definitely my second choice.)

Q: The furious ex: I have reconnected with the man I would genuinely describe as the love of my life. We dated in high school and lost contact when we went off to college. He is divorced with two kids and fighting to get full custody of them. His ex has been diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder and will alternate between cursing him out and begging to him to take her back (I have heard the voicemails). She consistently lies and tries to use the kids as a weapon against him. We have gone out on a few dates, mostly as friends, and I am falling in love with him again, but I don’t know if I can deal with all this. I think I would be a good stepmom, but their mother would go ballistic on me. What should I do? Hang back and wait? Be a friend despite my feelings?

A: I think you should try to get a sense of what your would-be boyfriend’s strategy is for dealing with his ex-wife. This isn’t a boundary that you’re solely responsible for setting—if he’s trying to date again, he should have at least some sense for how he manages his interactions with her and tries to ensure that she doesn’t harass anyone he’s seeing.

It’s great that you think you would be a good stepmom, but I worry that the fact that you guys dated in high school and you consider him “the love of your life” has pushed you eight or nine steps ahead of yourself. He has not asked you to help co-parent his children, and you’ve only been on a few friendly dates. If you want to go on another date, then go on another date—don’t emotionally go on the next 20 dates at once. Talk to him about your feelings, don’t rush into being his second wife before he’s even asked, and figure out how you two will deal with any possible interactions with his ex together.

Q: Re: Foster parenting a dating dud?: Never put your life on hold until you find a husband/wife. The best catches want to marry a whole person, not someone waiting for someone who will give them permission to become complete!

A: An enthusiastic and wholehearted recommendation for moving ahead! I think it’s often rare in life that we have a really clear sense of what we want, as well as a strategy for how to get it, and if you’ve got that right now when it comes to being a foster parent, then you should seize the opportunity.

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

Top 5 Seafood dishes to try in Vietnam

by fred wilson @ Back of the Bike Tours

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

Promotion 2

by admin_orn @ Home | The Orange Lantern Restaurant | Vietnamese Food & Cuisine

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For a Member of the Creative Class, Space Is a Luxury Just Out of Reach

For a Member of the Creative Class, Space Is a Luxury Just Out of Reach

by Sandra Beasley @ Slate Articles

In May 2015, my husband and I moved from a one-bedroom in the Adams Morgan neighborhood in Washington to a one-bedroom in a Southwest neighborhood known as the Waterfront. Our rent increase was minor, from $2,000 a month to $2,100 a month, putting us squarely in the median price range for a D.C. one-bedroom as described by a study conducted that year by the online rental site Zumper. I embraced the better view and made peace with the fact that, once again, the kitchen table would serve as my desk.

Many days I wake up around 3 a.m. to work. The work varies: drafting an essay, editing a poem, fellowship application, paid manuscript consultation, preparing for class. I work for several hours, then fall back asleep. That way I feel at least a little refreshed when my second round of work for the day starts. Making my way through the world as a writer, I enjoy a tremendous amount of flexibility. But the work never stops.

In 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the D.C. median household income was $75,628. We don’t earn that much. In order to convince owners to rent apartments to me, I’ve pled my case with unconventional documentation, including a publishing contract, a grant letter from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a fistful of 1099s. Many urban centers supposedly value their creative class but, according to computer algorithms looking for 1-to-3 ratios of rent to income in order to approve our application, we don’t belong here. Yet we choose to be here. And with four books behind me, an anthology due out next year, and two manuscripts in hand, I’ve realized: I need a room of my own.

What could that room look like? Many local office hubs target entrepreneurs. Base rates for WeWork or The Hive exceed $300 per month for access to a desk, and perks such as meeting spaces and digital projection are lost on me. The Writer’s Center and D.C. Writers Room use modest rates to target literary communities but are clustered in Northwest. Although 24-hour access is a standard amenity, I’m reluctant to drive there in the middle of the night—my critical creative window—and a locker won’t hold all the reference materials I might need. As part of my revision process, I read aloud. Repeatedly. Hard to imagine doing that in an open-floor plan.

My autocorrect in email keeps changing coworking space to cowering space.

You need a home office, a little voice keeps saying. My work is the primary engine of our income, a determining factor for our household schedule. My next career breakthrough won’t come about through $200 freelance assignments taken on to pay off a monthly “all-access” Cove workspace membership, or an adjunct class that gives me a shared cubicle at a local university. The writing that matters is big, stressful, book-length projects that delve deep, can’t be scheduled between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., and are almost entirely uncompensated up front.

My husband knows this. He does what he can to give me the creative space I need, but there are not many places to hide in 900 square feet. Some days he gets up right as I come back to bed, trekking to sites around the city where he is paid by the hour to install rain barrels. Some days he heads to his studio to paint. My husband’s “room of his own” is part of a bargain struck over a decade ago, when a longtime friend moved his family to Spain. He gets a raw space to make art in that friend’s row house basement, in return for keeping an eye on the upstairs tenants. Without that grace, finances might have driven him out of the city before we ever met.

Many think of Washington as a town with high turnover. I get that—the politicians, the diplomats, and, frankly, the friends who show up to one or two events, burn out after a year, and move. But D.C. is filled with good people terrified of losing the security of their place: the artist whose management company renegotiates her lease every time she takes on a new roommate; the poet with disability who needs an accessible building with two working elevators; the musician who doesn’t have a guarantor waiting in the wings. If we save money by moving to the edges of gentrifying neighborhoods, we spend more money on transit. That sidewalk cafe, the one where I’m supposed to camp out and write in my notebook? They now charge $4 for a cup of coffee.

I brew perfectly good coffee. When I first brought up the possibility of a second bedroom, my ace in the hole was the tax deduction—not for coffee, but rent on square footage—associated with a home office. But the far-reaching tax bill waiting reconciliation between the House and Senate leaves me wary of counting on any particular tax provision, especially as the resident of a city without voting representation. Because we’re outside the umbrella of traditional full-time employment and under the mandate of D.C. Health Link, my household is looking at 2018 insurance rates of $750 a month for two adults with no dependents. A year from now, we may decide we cannot afford to live here. But I don’t want to be haunted by what I could have done, had I claimed the space I needed.

The application has 10 sections. Under “Employer,” I put my largest income source, a school that isn’t even in D.C. I add a forward slash, and write “self.”

My Self is the true earner: hustler, poet, boss who gets up at 3 a.m. to get work done. The Self could charge more for manuscript consultations but is wary of contributing to the class barrier facing many aspiring writers. The Self insists on alternating between applying for grants and volunteering to judge them. The Self says yes to events that don’t pay because they foster our arts scene. The Self donates $30 she can’t afford to a literary organization she believes in. The Self always buys a book when she walks into a bookstore. The Self has $4.39 in her checking account. The Self looks okay on paper, but not great. The Self is the one who deserves a room of her own.

We hit “Submit” on the application for a bigger apartment, with a $150 nonrefundable fee. We wait.

They call. They ask if we want to apply for a one-bedroom instead.

The Oppressor’s Bookshelf

The Oppressor’s Bookshelf

by Heather Andrea Williams @ Slate Articles

This article supplements Reconstruction, a Slate Academy. To learn more and to enroll, visit Slate.com/Reconstruction

Adapted from Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom by Heather Andrea Williams. Published by the University of North Carolina Press.

Books were of course essential to teaching, but they were also scarce commodities within freed communities. In response to the Freedmen’s Bureau question, “What books do you use?” one Georgia teacher replied, “Any I can get.”1

His response underscored the overwhelming poverty of freedpeople and the challenge involved in establishing effective schools. In many freedpeople classrooms, student progress was hindered by a lack of books and other classroom necessities. Reverend Joseph Warren, the Freedmen’s Bureau Superintendent of Education for Mississippi, echoed teachers’ concerns in an 1866 report: “Not more than two of the school-houses have been properly fitted up with writing-desks, even of the most primitive kind. Some others have very little accommodation for writing; most of them none at all. This is owing to the poverty of the people, and to the large demands upon the funds of the benevolent societies.” Warren concluded, “unless better apparatus can be provided in our schools, justice cannot be done to the pupils.”2

Some teachers were fortunate enough to receive donations of one or two types of books from northern organizations, but the tool that African Americans used most frequently to decode written English was Noah Webster’s Elementary Spelling Book, popularly called “the blue-back speller.” This book, which insisted on an American pronunciation distinct from the English, was Webster’s contribution to the American Revolution. Having “thrown off the shackles” of English rule, Americans, Webster believed, should also renounce the language. Instead of “honour,” Americans would spell “honor”; instead of “publick,” “public.” By 1818, Webster’s book had sold 5 million copies.3 It was this little book that Frederick Douglass and countless other enslaved people used in their first steps toward literacy.4 And when slavery ended, adults and children, many of whom could not attend school, got hold of the blue-back speller and slowly taught themselves to read. The speller accrued emotional significance as the guide that helped individuals to decipher written language. At 87 years of age, John Walton expressed his sentimental attachment when he told an interviewer, “I learned to read and write a little just since freedom Us used Websters old blue back speller and I has one in de house to dis day and I wouldn’t take nothing for it.”5

At the same time, books with competing ideologies floated around the South: those that supporters of the Confederacy designed to inculcate values such as the morality of slavery and the inferiority of African Americans and those that white abolitionists produced to advise black people how to carry out their new roles as free people. African American teachers’ scramble to obtain even the most elementary spelling books to teach the most rudimentary lessons took place within a broader contest for control over what stories textbooks would tell and who would tell them. Both northern and southern white politicians and educators realized that even simple statements inserted into elementary spelling lessons could influence a new generation of readers and thinkers.6

In the late 1850s, as regional tensions heightened, southern white politicians and educators moved to take control of what their children learned in school. Long dependent on northern teachers and texts, they began a campaign to remove both from the schools of the coming Confederacy. White southerners began publishing books that would introduce into the classroom values that they held dear, interposing lessons deemed appropriate for a slave society into elementary reading and spelling books. In addition to the values of politeness, honesty, and hard work that northern spelling books included, the elementary texts set out to convince young, white, southern readers that black slaves were better off than poor whites, that slavery was a biblically approved institution, and that northerners, including the despot Abraham Lincoln, sought to deprive white southerners of their God-given rights.6

Marinda Branson Moore, one of the more prolific authors of Confederate textbooks, was intent on conveying to her young readers that preserving the status quo would be the best option for black people. In a book that began its lessons with the spellings of monosyllabic words such as cat and bat, Moore introduced reading lessons like this one to support her philosophy that freedom was worse than slavery:

1. Here comes old aunt Ann. She is quite old. See how she leans on her stick.
2. When she was young she did good work, but now she can not work much. But she is not like a poor white woman.
3. Aunt Ann knows that her young Miss, as she calls her, will take care as long as she lives.
4. Many poor white folks would be glad to live in her house and eat what Miss Kate sends out for dinner. 7

Moore also spiced her elementary geographical reader with judgments of black inferiority.8 Moore denoted clear distinctions among the “Races of men.” Europeans and Americans, mostly white or Caucasian, were more civilized and ranked far above the rest. They had churches, schools, and systems of government, and they treated women with respect. For Moore, the African or Negro race from Africa had no redeeming qualities. They were slothful, vicious, dull, and cruel to each other, selling their prisoners to white people as slaves. In Africa, they knew nothing of Jesus, and the climate was so unhealthy that white men could not go there to convert them. As a result, “the slaves who are found in America are in much better condition.” This is what the white children in the new schools of the southern Confederacy learned—lessons well-designed to perpetuate slavery and white supremacy.

With freedpeople’s schools opening just as these books reached the market, one can well imagine them falling into the hands of eager new black readers, transmitting the very lessons that the existence of freedpeople’s schools meant to counteract. However, not one African American teacher in post-emancipation Georgia reported using a recognized Confederate textbook. Even though they were desperate for books, black teachers, too, may have made political choices about what they would use in the classroom.

Following emancipation, abolitionists undertook a corresponding enterprise to produce textbooks for the freedpeople. Several northern whites produced books aimed at inculcating “northern values” into freed African Americans. In 1865 and 1866, the American Tract Society, a Boston-based Congregational Church affiliate, published The Freedman’s Spelling Book. The book aimed to explain rules very simply and to introduce words that related to “important practical subjects; as occupations, domestic life, civil institutions, morals, education, and natural science.” While teaching spelling and reading were of utmost priority, the publishers also wanted to impart practical information that would be of use to the freedpeople “in the new condition into which Providence has raised them.”

Aside from its name, at first glance, the Freedman’s Spelling Book did not appear to be so different from other contemporary northern spelling books. It presented lessons of etiquette and morality among the vocabulary words. Occasionally it was explicit, as in lesson 173, where it urged freedpeople to be economical: “A freedman should be provident; that is, he should provide for the future, and not be negligent.” Other messages tended to be more subtle and could be read to have mass appeal. However, when read simultaneously with another publication by the American Tract Society, Isaac W. Brinckerhoff ’s Advice to Freedmen, published in 1864 or 1865, it is easy to see how teachers with similar sensibilities and beliefs would have amplified the spelling books’ lessons in the classroom.9

Brinckerhoff, a white Baptist minister from Ithaca, New York, served as a plantation superintendent and teacher in the South Carolina Sea Islands from 1862–63. In his book, he addressed freedpeople directly, always with the condescending tone of a wise elder, introducing himself to them “as a friend who is doing all that he can to promote your welfare and the welfare of your people.” Brinckerhoff assured those who would read the book as well as those who would hear it read by literate friends that he saw human qualities in them. “Though you have for generations been a dependent and enslaved race, yet with many visible marks of degradation still upon you,” he told them, “there is evidence of a God-given manhood within, which only needs to be properly developed and rightly cultivated to make you happy, prosperous, and useful.”10

Both the Freedman’s Spelling Book and Brinckerhoff ’s Advice to Freedmen sought to instill African Americans with a sense of obligation and loyalty to northern white men. The spelling book paired an illustration of a white soldier being greeted by a small white girl with a story of five sentences. The man had just returned home from the war. He was glad to see his little daughter. “Let us be joyful that the war is at an end,” the story continued. “It was sad to see men die in battle, but it was to make us free. We will not forget all that God did for us.” This insistence to African Americans that white men had died to make them free neglected any mention that black men had also fought for their freedom. Brinckerhoff joined in this omission when he wrote, under the heading “How You Became Free”: “Many thousand households at the north are clothed in mourning, and many tears are shed for the dead who have been slain. With treasure and precious blood your freedom has been purchased. Let these sufferings and sacrifices never be forgotten when you remember that you are not now a slave, but a freedman.”11

In her lessons to white southern children, Marinda Moore reinforced a pro-slavery ideology that insisted African Americans were contented slaves who, even after being lured away by northern whites, returned to serve their former masters as loyal servants. Brinckerhoff, the white northerner, also represented himself as paternalistic caretaker, handing out advice to a benighted people. As Moore did, he too made claims on African American loyalty. While Moore’s textbooks influenced white boys and girls to believe that blacks belonged in slavery, Brinckerhoff’s book surely made it into freedpeople’s classrooms and into the spaces where freedpeople gathered to listen to the readers in their communities.

As African Americans announced to the world that they wanted to be literate, they found an odd collection of books in the libraries of their oppressors. Noah Webster created a book that renounced British conventions. Secessionist southerners declared their separateness from the rest of the nation with separate texts to indoctrinate their children. And white abolitionists celebrated the end of slavery while attempting to instill a sense of obligation in African Americans. Each of these actions signaled radical changes and underscored the political work that textbooks do. In the aftermath of slavery, African Americans were in no position to create their own textbooks to promote a worldview.

From Self-Taught: African American Education in Slavery and Freedom by Heather Andrea Williams. Copyright © 2005 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher.

1. School report of Tunis Campbell, Jan. 1, 1866, M799, roll 20, FBR.

2. Statement of Joseph Warren quoted in John W. Alvord, Second Semi-Annual Report on Schools and Finances, July 1, 1866 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1868), 7, reprinted in John W. Alvord, Semi-Annual Reports on Schools for Freedmen: Numbers 1–10, January 1866–July 1870 (New York: AMS Press, 1980).

3. Harry R. Warfel, Noah Webster: Schoolmaster to America (New York: Macmillan, 1936), 76; Paul Leicester Ford, “Webster’s Spelling-Book: Early American Text-Books Noah Webster’s Great Enterprise,” reprinted from the New York Evening Post, n.d., Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

4. Frederick Douglass, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, ed. David W. Blight (New York: Bedford Books, 1993), 63.

5. George P. Rawick, ed., The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography, 19 vols. (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1972), vol. 5, pt. 4, p. 149.

6. Proceedings of the Convention of Teachers of the Confederate States, Assembled at Columbia, South Carolina, April 28th, 1863 (Macon, Ga.: Burke, Boykin, and Company), 18, in Confederate Imprints, 143 reels (microfilm; New Haven, Conn.: Research Publications, 1972), reel 113, no. 4009.

7. Marinda Branson Moore, The First Dixie Reader: Designed to Follow the Dixie Primer (Raleigh, N.C.: Branson, Farrar, and Company, 1863), 14.

8. Marinda Branson Moore, The Geographical Reader, for the Dixie Children (Raleigh: Branson, Farrar, and Company, 1863), 9–10.

9. American Tract Society, Freedman’s Spelling Book, 79; Isaac W. Brinckerhoff, Advice to Freedmen, vol. 4 of Freedmen’s Schools and Textbooks, ed. Morris.

10. Brinckerhoff, Advice to Freedmen, 16.

11. American Tract Society, Freedman’s Spelling Book, 22; Brinckerhoff, Advice to Freedmen, 6–7.

The Best Gifts for Music Lovers

The Best Gifts for Music Lovers

by Lori Keong @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

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

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

DAMN. Vinyl Record
$27, Amazon

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

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

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

69 Love Songs Box Set
$85, Amazon

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

Absolutely on Music: Conversations
$19, Amazon

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

Teenage Engineering Sub Bass Synthesizer
$50, Amazon

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

Taking Tiger Mountain LP
$31, Amazon

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

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

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

B&O Play Portable Bluetooth Speaker
$132, Amazon

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

Pro 17 Hearing Protection
$185, Amazon

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

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

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

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

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

Line Phono Turntable Station
$499, Amazon

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

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

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A local explains why South Korean food is the best in the world

A local explains why South Korean food is the best in the world

by Dan Gray @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Korean food doesn’t fare best in white-tablecloth atmospheres. It's more about sitting around a charcoal grill in the center of your table with friends, having a drink and talking about this, that, and whatever.

The post A local explains why South Korean food is the best in the world appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

7 reasons to visit Peru (that aren’t Machu Picchu)

7 reasons to visit Peru (that aren’t Machu Picchu)

by Taryn Stenvei @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Food, waterfalls, epic hikes and camelids, to name a few.

The post 7 reasons to visit Peru (that aren’t Machu Picchu) appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Listen to the Swahili song that will get your tired legs up Mount Kilimanjaro

Listen to the Swahili song that will get your tired legs up Mount Kilimanjaro

by Philippa Whishaw @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Intrepid mountain guide Samuel has climbed Kilimanjaro over 500 times. So when his travellers are struggling to the summit, he's got a few tricks up his sleeve to help encourage them along. Singing this traditional Kili trekking song is one of them.

The post Listen to the Swahili song that will get your tired legs up Mount Kilimanjaro appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Very Suggestive Texts

Very Suggestive Texts

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

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

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

Q. Schoolgirl crush—but I’m 37 and married: I’ve made a terrible mistake. I flirted heavily with a co-worker at our holiday party, much more so than a married woman should flirt. Lots of touching, and there was a moment where we almost kissed but held back. Afterward we exchanged very suggestive texts for a day or two. If I’m totally honest I really enjoyed the tension and thrill of it, and I definitely did more than my part to start and keep the situation going.

Now I feel extremely guilty and ashamed, but do not plan to burden my husband by telling him what happened—it would devastate him and destroy the trust in our relationship. My dilemma is that I genuinely like this co-worker and now realize I am also really attracted to him. I don’t want to have these feelings. I am married and too old to have a crush. I’ll be more cautious about spending time with him alone now that these unexpected feelings have surfaced, but what else should I do to protect my marriage?

A: I don’t think “trying very hard not to have feelings” and telling yourself that 37 is “too old” to be swept away by a powerful crush is going to be a useful strategy. You may not want to experience these feelings, but that’s the trouble with feelings. They don’t come based on whether or not we want them, and they don’t vanish just because they make us feel uncomfortable.

I think your plan to limit your time with this co-worker is a good one. But when those feelings resurface, don’t try to deny or negate them—that will only make them feel all the more forbidden and exciting. Just say to yourself, “Yeah, I have a crush on this man, and I want to find excuses to flirt with him and get his attention.” That doesn’t mean you have to do those things, but it may help to acknowledge your attraction in the moment, rather than try desperately to convince yourself you’re too old to feel this way—you’re demonstrably not, by dint of, you know, feeling this way.

Q. Couch lover: This fall, I gained sole custody of my 11-year-old sister, “Ada,” from our mother. Ada is on the autism spectrum, which was “too much” for our mother to handle, and she took it out on my sister when she wasn’t abandoning her at home for days outright. Ada’s transitioned well to living in my apartment with me. One thing worries me though: She refuses to sleep in her bed.

Her room was previously used as a rec room, so across from her bed was a couch that I had planned to move as soon as I could. Somehow she decided that the couch was a much better place to sleep, and has completely abandoned her bed. Even if I put her to bed in her actual bed, by the time I go to sleep she’s curled up on her couch. When I ask her why she likes sleeping on the couch instead of her bed, she shrugs and says it’s comfier. She has limited communication skills, so that’s the most concrete answer I’ve gotten from her.

I don’t want to force Ada to sleep in her bed, or stress her out to the point of a meltdown by getting rid of the couch, but I’m also worried that people might think I’m neglecting her needs if I continue to let her sleep on the couch. Do you have any suggestions?

A: I’m glad to hear that Ada has you, and that she doesn’t have to deal with your mother’s neglect and dislike anymore. A lot of kids on the spectrum have sensory issues, and may feel marked discomfort at certain sensations—like a bed that’s too soft or otherwise uncomfortable. If she’s happy on the couch, then I think you should let her continue to sleep there. You might try putting a couch (or a futon) in her bedroom at some point, but if the couch is working for her now, then that’s all that matters. Hopefully no one will ask or judge you about where your sister is most comfortable sleeping, but if it comes up, you can just say that it’s what she wants, and leave it at that.

Q. Breaking up with my psychiatrist: I have been seeing the same psychiatrist for over 10 years for depression and anxiety. In some ways, he’s been great—accessible by phone when I’m in crisis, and seeing me on a cash basis when I haven’t had insurance. But it feels like our relationship has been deteriorating for months now. He is dismissive of how routine sexism and sexual harassment corrode my quality of life. He sometimes tells me my thoughts are “just crazy,” or accuses me of being irrational, which undermines my confidence in my own ability to make decisions without his help.

Most recently, I felt like he was gaslighting me in a session: first telling me I was being irrational, then denying he has ever called me irrational; treating me like I was acting out of control when I was trying to have a calm conversation; interrupting me and talking over me. After 15 minutes of this he basically said we would have to end the session if I couldn’t “calm down.” When I said I was calm, he interrupted me again and went back to barking at me that I needed to calm down. I told him I didn’t think we could continue the session and left. It felt really good to leave!

Since then I have used the holidays as a reason not to see him again and am in the process of finding help elsewhere. What, if any, responsibility do I have to “break up” with this psychiatrist? Do I owe him an explanation?

A: You don’t owe him an explanation. You don’t have to convince him that you have sufficient justification to look elsewhere for help with your mental health, especially since he has a history of ignoring you and speaking over you. If it feels important to you to say why you’re leaving, you can absolutely say, “I’m going to find a new psychiatrist; when you call me ‘crazy’ or ‘irrational,’ or dismiss my experience with sexual harassment, I don’t feel comfortable being honest and vulnerable with you. Last month was our last session.” Remember that he does not have to agree with you in order for you to move on. I think you’re making the right decision, and I wish you a lot of luck in finding a psychiatrist who doesn’t routinely bark at you.

Q. Re: Schoolgirl crush—but I’m 37 and married: I had been married for almost 15 years when I got an intense crush on someone I worked with. Unlike you, I told my husband. It was like popping a balloon. The words came out of my mouth, and the crush just evaporated.

I don’t necessarily recommend this for you, as your situation is different and involves heavy flirting and sexy texts. We never went there; though the attraction was pretty obviously mutual, we stayed friendly but professional. It depends on what kind of relationship you have with your husband. For me, telling him got rid of the whole feedback loop Mallory mentioned. It was no longer a shameful secret, but just some weird thing happening. I still have a great, friendly, professional relationship with the guy (and also kind of wonder what I saw in him).

A: I’m so glad to hear that was helpful! I agree it may not be right for the letter writer to share this with her husband—they may not have the kind of relationship you share with your husband, and there’s a difference between “I’m attracted to someone at work” and “I’m attracted to someone at work I almost kissed and sort-of sexted”—but even just saying it out loud, to herself if to no one else, may take some of the heavy, forbidden, secretive power out of their interactions. I’m so glad to hear from someone who felt a powerful attraction to someone who wasn’t their partner, acknowledged their feelings, and moved on. It’s a helpful reminder that feelings, while powerful, aren’t the only things in the world that can drive our behavior.

Q. Other kids: My marriage collapsed after my son was born. He was a miracle, but a costly one. Fertility treatments bankrupted our savings, my wife suffered from several miscarriages, and our son was born premature. When my son was 2, my wife told me she wanted another child. I refused. We fought. A lot. At the time I thought her to be selfish and shortsighted—we were tapped out financially and emotionally. I wanted to finally enjoy ourselves as a family. She filed for divorce.

My son is 9 now, and I have remarried a widow with a girl who I have adopted. My ex has never remarried. We have a good working relationship and she is an excellent mother to our son. My bitterness has faded. My new wife is pregnant. This is unexpected and everything seems to be going well. We have not told anyone. How do I tell my ex-wife? It feels like cheating to let the news come from social media or our son, but telling the news to her face feels like rubbing it in. I want to keep our good rapport, but I am afraid of bringing up bad blood.

A: It’s been seven years since your divorce, and the relationship you have with your ex-wife now sounds markedly different from the one you had back when you were fighting every day. I think there’s an excellent chance she’ll respond to the news gracefully, or at least politely. But even if she gets upset, she has to hear it from you—don’t let her find out from Facebook or her 9-year-old son. That almost guarantees a bitter reaction.

Be frank and friendly when you tell her—there’s no reason to go into detail about whether or not the baby was planned—and if it seems like she’s having a difficult time absorbing the news, find a way to keep the conversation relatively brief and let her go deal with whatever feelings may come up for her on her own. You shouldn’t apologize for having a child with your new wife seven years after your divorce—just because you didn’t want a child at that particular time, in that particular context, doesn’t mean that you are banned from ever changing your mind.

Q. Dominating sister: What is the best way to deal with an older sister (56) who treats me, her little brother (46), like a 3-year-old? She has never stopped talking about me in the third person when I’m standing next to her. When I’m working with subtitles for my job on my laptop, I’m playing a game. She claims I own many guns (I’ve never touched one), never knocks before entering my room or the bathroom, and if a fire starts anywhere in California, she asks if I started it, because I played with matches—once—40 years ago.

I have to spend a week with her for the holidays and I’m ready to block her number. We went to the same prep schools and were raised in the same house, yet I’m supposedly a sociopath who’s never been arrested or even been in a fight. How to handle this?

A: I think that blocking her number is certainly an option. It sounds like your sister is likely unwell if she’s experiencing delusions and/or compulsively lying, and while I don’t think she’s likely to respond well to the suggestion, I hope very much that someone in her life is able to tell her that she needs to seek professional treatment. That person probably shouldn’t be you, given that you seem to be a frequent target of her delusions. If you need to limit or even eliminate contact with her for your own well-being, then I think you should do so. If it helps to spend a few sessions with a therapist talking about how being targeted by your sister’s lies has affected you and what you need to do in order to protect yourself, I encourage you to find one. But you can—and absolutely should!—say, “I can’t spend time with you if you’re going to invade my privacy, lie about me, or suggest that I’m a danger to other people when I’m not.”

Q. Re: Couch lover: I really liked small spaces when I was a teen—it made me feel comforted to be surrounded on all sides. Let the kid have her couch. Tell anyone who doesn’t like it to take a flying leap.

A: I imagine some of the letter writer’s anxiety about being perceived as neglectful comes from the fact that their mother was, in fact, neglectful. But I don’t think other people would necessarily see the couch-bed setup and think, “Oh no, this kid is being neglected”—I think it’s not as unusual as the letter writer fears it might be.

Q. The constant whistler: My roommate and colleague of three months, “Lisa,” has a habit of humming and whistling quite constantly. Because we share the same living space, office space, and work schedule, this means I hear it quite a bit, and what I initially thought was a quirky habit is now extremely irritating to me. If we make the 15-minute walk to work together, she’ll begin to whistle three to four times during lulls in our conversation, for about 10–20 seconds each time. I’ve begun to head in to the office early to avoid walking with her, and make excuses to head back on my own when work is over. She hums or whistles relatively often in the office, and even more frequently in our small apartment, in buses, taxis, et cetera. She’s a nice girl, and by default my closest friend here (we are expats in a foreign country, in a city with few English speakers), but I find her lack of self-awareness so frustrating!

I know I need to do it, but I just can’t think of a polite yet firm way to ask her not to hum or whistle so frequently around me without upsetting her; it seems to be a habit that’s pretty ingrained in her. I would love to take bigger steps like moving apartments, but unfortunately that’s not an option for me at the moment.

A: “I don’t know if you’re conscious of this, but you whistle and hum a lot of the time when we’re at home together, and that makes it hard for me to concentrate if I’m working or relax if I’m trying to unwind. Do you mind keeping it to a minimum when we’re at home? I’m glad you enjoy it, and I don’t want you to feel like you have to be totally silent, but I’d really appreciate it if you didn’t whistle so often.” If she responds positively but occasionally forgets—after all, it sounds like a pretty unconscious habit, and it may take a while for her to become aware of how frequently she does it—just mention it casually. “Hey, you’re doing it again; do you mind stopping?” It’s a very gentle, very reasonable request, and if she’s otherwise a good roommate, I’m sure she’ll be happy to cut back.

Q. When do I tell girlfriend about sexual assault?: When I was in high school, I (a male) was repeatedly sexually assaulted and harassed by a female classmate for years. Some of my friends knew about it, but thought it was funny or that I was “lucky”. After high school, I never told a single person about it. The assault caused me to experience depression and a crisis of faith. It also made me afraid to become close to females, and to have physical interactions with them, thus damaging and dooming pretty much every romantic relationship I’ve had since.

Due to the #MeToo movement, I’ve started telling a few people about my assault. I recently started dating a great girl. It is still early in the relationship, and we haven’t kissed or anything due to my trauma, which she doesn’t know about. I’m starting to think she thinks there is something wrong or that I don’t like her. When and how should I tell her? I’m afraid that going too dark and serious too soon may damage the relationship. I really like her.

A: I’m so sorry that you were sexually assaulted, and I’m even sorrier that the people you trusted as your friends responded by dismissing and mocking the repeated violations you experienced. I hope that the friends you’ve started sharing your experience with recently have responded with compassion, belief, and support. If you’re anxious about talking to this girl about being assaulted and harassed, it may help to speak to your friends first about what you’re afraid of, and to enlist their support before and after you speak to her.

First, of course, it’s worth pointing out that you’re not obligated to disclose anything if you don’t want to. You can absolutely say, “I’d prefer to take our physical relationship slow, but I really like you and I want to keep seeing each other.” Or you can offer her a quick sketch of where you’re coming from without going into detail: “When I was younger, I was assaulted and harassed by a female classmate, and I’m still dealing with the aftermath. I don’t want to talk about it in detail right now, but I do want you to know where I’m coming from and what I’m dealing with.” Your reluctance is understandable, given how in the past you were met with dismissal and laughter when you tried to tell people you suffered sexual violence at the hands of a teenage girl. But if this woman you’re seeing now is a good person—and it sounds like she is—I think she’ll be understanding and respectful. Whenever you feel ready is the best time to tell her. I hope she responds with compassion.

Q. Re: Couch lover: My son is on the spectrum and has some very specific needs for sleep. The letter writer may not be aware of what routine Ada followed in her mother’s home, and that routine could help explain why she wants to sleep on the couch. It may be the place where she feels most comfortable. Also, it may provide the best source of sensory deprivation.

Sleeping on a couch is so far away from neglect, especially when the letter writer is providing his or her sister with a stable, loving home. There are a lot of organizations that can provide the letter writer with support as he or she starts navigating parenting a child with autism. Take care.

A: Thanks so much for this. The most important thing to remember, I think, is that the letter writer is doing what’s best for his or her sister. It’s much better to give Ada a place to sleep where she feels comfortable and relaxed than to try to get her to sleep in a bed because of what other people might think—the letter writer is doing the absolute best thing for Ada.

Ortberg: Thanks for stopping by during a quiet week! See you next time.

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

POPs, Those Toxic, Manmade Persistent Organic Pollutants

by @ Green Home Library

But This Time It’s Nature Doing the Dirty Work!

In the late 1970s, the U.S. government banned a group of manmade chemical compounds known as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) thanks to scientific evidence that they caused harm to both people and animals.

This group of toxins, along with DDT, PCBs, and PBDEs, are all classified as POPs, or persistent organic pollutants – chemicals with such serious side effects that nations around the globe joined to ban them in 2004 in what is known as the Stockholm Convention.

Nature Makes POPs, Too

It was a magnificent effort, but one that Nature herself may be undermining. According to some scientists, certain bacteria, fungi, plants and waterborne organisms may now be making their own, counterfeit versions of PCBs, PBDEs, and other banned compounds.

Scientists don’t yet know whether their production is part of a natural process or some response to the chemicals we have already introduced into earth’s biosphere. The most burning question, however, may be why Nature is reproducing these POPs?

Take a group of chemicals called organohalogens, which are being found in seabird eggs along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, according to researcher Sheryl Tittlemier of Carleton University.

These organic halogen compounds are structurally very similar to manmade DDT, halogenated dioxins, and brominated flame retardants. In nature, they are produced by marine organisms such as the acorn worm, for example, and production is verified by carbon-14 dating – a highly conclusive method for anything less than 50,000 years old.

The list of naturally produced POPs currently approaches 6,000, and challenges the perception that humans have produced more of these toxic compounds than Nature!

Natural POPs Making Their Way Up the Food Chain

Most scientists support the idea that these Nature-made POPs are as harmful to species as the ones chemical companies like Monsanto, Dow and 3M once made.

Several studies – one from the University of Missouri – have found trace amounts of POPs in pet food (and, of course, pets). The worst offender is BPA, or Bisphenol A, found in the lining of far too many pet food cans. The most troubling aspect of this problem is that at least two of the manufacturers lied about the presence of bisphenol A in their cans.

Traces of hydroxylated PBDEs have also been found in humans. The greatest risk is to people eating a marine diet, including fish; shellfish like oysters, crabs and lobster; whales and dolphins; seaweeds and microalgae; squid; sea cucumbers; jellyfish; and frogs.

Women in the Faroe Islands, who commonly ate whale blubber, had traces of these “natural” PCBs in their breast milk. Unfortunately, these naturally produced compounds can’t be banned as easily as manmade PCBs, so scientists are using analytical techniques like genome sampling to figure out which organisms are synthesizing the chemicals, how they do it, and why.

So far, the worst culprits appear to be marine sponges, whose bodies harbor 10 percent or more (by dry weight) of polybrominated compounds! Good reason, if you needed one, not to buy bath sponges.

But Why?

The immediate question is what risk do these “Nature-made” chemicals present. The biggest question is why would Nature manufacture toxic chemicals man has already banned?

The answer, suggest scientists, is the result of chemical warfare, this time by bacteria.

“Bacteria use chemicals to protect themselves from threats and to taste bad to predators,” notes Vinayak Agarwal of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The same aptitude that makes bacteria able to engage in chemical warfare may also make them highly adept at breaking down similar manmade chemicals in the environment. Take, for example, a General Electric Superfund site along the Hudson River in New York, where some naturally occurring microbes have learned to break down PCBs released into the river for three decades.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Nature could reverse our carelessness with chemicals? It might even make the extra body burden of persistent organic chemicals acceptable.

Or would it?

The Best Lunch Foods in Ho Chi Minh City

by fred wilson @ Back of the Bike Tours

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

Lessons in experiencing La Dolce Vita in Italy

Lessons in experiencing La Dolce Vita in Italy

by Jess Simpson @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Taking time to enjoy life’s great pleasures – family, friends, outdoors, food, and wine – is the core of Italian living. This obsession with life’s quality proves irresistible and brings us back, time and again.

The post Lessons in experiencing La Dolce Vita in Italy appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Metropole Hanoi Lights Up The Festive Season With A Pedal-Powered Christmas Tree - Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

Metropole Hanoi Lights Up The Festive Season With A Pedal-Powered Christmas Tree - Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi


Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi

Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi kicks off the holiday season with an official invitation-only Christmas Lights Ceremony on December 1. For the first time, British cycling legend David Lloyd will join forces with six foreign ambassadors to take part in a bicycle ‘race’ to generate enough electricity to turn on the hotel’s yuletide sign and lights. …

Christmas period in Turku

by Nicholas Bernardi @ UTU Masters

Hello everyone! Sadly, we are reaching the end of the Christmas period, and with it the end of our winter holydays is drawing closer. But let’s not think about it, as I want to talk about some beautiful events I witnessed in Turku to celebrate...

The post Christmas period in Turku appeared first on UTU Masters.

Bless His Heart

Bless His Heart

by Ruth Graham @ Slate Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vietnamese Food - What to Eat in Vietnam

Vietnamese Food - What to Eat in Vietnam


vietnam-guide.com

In the past few years Vietnamese food has become more and more popular around the world. Food lovers may have tried the two best known Vietnamese dishes – spring rolls and bread rolls. Rice, noodles, fresh vegetable and herbs all play big roles in Vietnamese food, making it

7 best destinations for solo travellers over 50

7 best destinations for solo travellers over 50

by Marie-France Roy @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Temperate climate, good food, decent infrastructure, and a variety of activities where there is little risk of breaking a bone. 50+? Visit these countries.

The post 7 best destinations for solo travellers over 50 appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

How Cuba’s culinary scene might surprise even the biggest foodie

How Cuba’s culinary scene might surprise even the biggest foodie

by Megan Arzbaecher @ Intrepid Travel Blog

I went into my Intrepid Travel tour thinking it'd be nine days of just eating rice and beans. Wow, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The post How Cuba’s culinary scene might surprise even the biggest foodie appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Vietnamese Lunar New Year Festival – Tet

by nguyentuandat @

Vietnamese Lunar New Year is a holiday of great human significance, This is the day for all people to reunite with their families, return to their hometown and commemorate their ancestors. Vietnamese Lunar New Year. Lunar New Year is the largest festival of Vietnamese traditional festivals,  the tra...

The post Vietnamese Lunar New Year Festival – Tet appeared first on .

Promotion 3

by admin_orn @ Home | The Orange Lantern Restaurant | Vietnamese Food & Cuisine

Healthy Salad

@

$4.90!

View More

The post Promotion 3 appeared first on Home | The Orange Lantern Restaurant | Vietnamese Food & Cuisine.

Everything you need to eat in Italy: a city-by-city guide

Everything you need to eat in Italy: a city-by-city guide

by Kristin Amico @ Intrepid Travel Blog

To really excel at culinary tourism, bring elastic clothing and friends to share all the food. (Oh, and this guide.)

The post Everything you need to eat in Italy: a city-by-city guide appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Aldi is selling THREE-LITRE bottles of prosecco this Christmas

by @ Richmond and Twickenham Times | Food

For most it's far too early to start mentioning Christmas, but we like to plan ahead, especially when there is a bargain to be had.

Meat Up

Meat Up

by Sara Ivry @ Vox Tablet

David Sax at Ben’s Best Pastrami, chopped liver, tongue—these are staples of the traditional Jewish delicatessen, an institution beloved by journalist David Sax. David writes Save the Deli, a blog which chronicles the life and death of delis around the world. He is also writing a book of the same name which will be published […]

Food fight: five of the world’s most controversial food rivalries

Food fight: five of the world’s most controversial food rivalries

by James Shackell @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Tacos or burritos? Laksa or ramen? Reubens or Cubanos? Read on to see which dishes came out on top.

The post Food fight: five of the world’s most controversial food rivalries appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

A foodie’s guide to Portland, USA

A foodie’s guide to Portland, USA

by Ashlea Wheeler @ Intrepid Travel Blog

If you’re the kind of traveller that enjoys drowning your taste buds in every imaginable option when you visit a new city, read on...

The post A foodie’s guide to Portland, USA appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

The tastiest food festivals to try in 2017

The tastiest food festivals to try in 2017

by Justin Meneguzzi @ Intrepid Travel Blog

We love Glastonbury, Coachella and Roskilde as much as anyone, but we bet you’d never find a bulgogi or bottle of soju among those pop-up food tents...

The post The tastiest food festivals to try in 2017 appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Fried Bee Hoon (Fried Rice Vermicelli)

by Sindhu Bharadwaj @ Asian Inspirations

  1. Prepare rice vermicelli by soaking in warm water until they turn soft. Drain and set aside in a colander to rid of excess water.
  2. In a small bowl, mix chicken slices with cornstarch and 1 tsp soy sauce then, set aside to marinate.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil a frying pan or wok.

The post Fried Bee Hoon (Fried Rice Vermicelli) appeared first on Asian Inspirations.

Christmas 2017: From Nigella to unicorn magic, 10 top gift ideas for foodies

by @ Richmond and Twickenham Times | Food

If there’s a foodie in your life the chances are they’ll be providing the feast you tick into on Christmas Day.

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

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

by Anne-Marie Slaughter @ Slate Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy These for the Chefs on Your Gift List

Buy These for the Chefs on Your Gift List

by Ashley Mason @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening—is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?—but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that tween girl, or golf dad, or Star Wars fanatic in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or at least a very helpful starting point. Today, 10 chefs on the gifts they want for the holidays.

“I’m obsessed with jadeite everything. I have a pitcher with juice glasses. I would love to add these gorgeous mixing bowls to my collection.” —Vivian Howard, chef and owner, Chef & the Farmer, Kinston, North Carolina

Mosser Glass Jadeite Milk Glass Mixing Bowl, Set of 3
$76, Amazon

“I love growing citrus at Olmsted, and I currently have a few citrus plants in my apartment. Surprisingly, they’re doing really well, but Meyer lemons are awesome, and I would love to have a small tree in my place.” —Greg Baxtrom, chef and owner, Olmsted, Brooklyn

Brighter Blooms Improved Meyer Lemon Tree, Up to 4 Feet Tall
$80, Amazon

“I look forward to receiving the Alma Kaiman Fish Bone Tweezer for the holidays because it’s the perfect kitchen tool for scaling all types of small fish, and it has curved handles with nonslip ridges that allow for the utmost precision.” —Eduardo Martinez, executive chef, Tiny’s & the Bar Upstairs

JB Prince Alma Kaiman Fish Bone Tweezer
$19, Amazon

“I’m really interested in pre-Hispanic cuisine, so any books about that realm of cooking, like Ana M. de Benitez’s Pre-Hispanic Cooking, would be on my list.” —Diana Davila, chef, Mi Tocaya Antojería

Pre-Hispanic Cooking (Biblioteca Interamericana Bilingüe)
$47, Amazon

“I was stupid to not put this on my wedding registry, so I’m deciding to put this on my holiday list. Everything from Skultuna is sleek and elegant. Our entire living room and open kitchen is white and natural wood, and the shiny pop of brass would bring a great complement of texture and another natural element to the design. This brass bottle opener is the sexiest bottle opener I have ever handled. It’s so heavy and makes even a bottle of Lone Star lager a polished drink.” —June Rodil, beverage director, master sommelier, June’s All Day, Austin, Texas

Skultuna Barbara Bottle Opener
$89, Amara

“Right now, I’m really into the new Vitamix Ascent. I like the blender’s timer, which is built right in. The auto functions are great, too.” —Brandon Jew, chef and owner, Mister Jiu’s, San Francisco

Vitamix A3500 Ascent Series Blender
$550, Amazon

“I would like a DeLonghi convection oven this holiday season. I love them because they are great for cooking small birds and getting the skin crispy, especially this one with the rotisserie.” —Mashama Bailey, chef, the Grey, Savannah, Georgia

DeLonghi RO2058 6-Slice Convection Toaster Oven With Rotisserie
$220, Amazon

“For the holidays, I would like an oven with a pilot light that never goes out, a dripless saucing spoon, a Sharpie that doesn’t dry up the minute I really need it, and a pastry tip that has a GPS locator so it never gets misplaced. And Baccarat Harmonie Crystal Triple Old-Fashioned Glasses, because after a long day in the kitchen, my favorite thing is hanging out in comfy slippers and having a bourbon.” — Edward Lee, chef, Succotash, Washington

Baccarat Harmonie Crystal Triple Old-Fashioned Glasses, Set of Two
$350, Neiman Marcus

“I have some ideas I want to play around with on a home sous-vide machine, like a Nomiku Wi-Fi Immersion Circulator. I’m not big on modernist cuisine, but I do think a sous-vide machine’s interesting when it serves a purpose.” —Preeti Mistry, chef and owner, Navi Kitchen, Oakland, California

Nomiku Wi-Fi Immersion Circulator
$160, Amazon

“I would love a Paella Burner. It’s a very compact unit that’s lightweight, portable, and super easy to clean. If you want to have an impromptu dinner party, and you only have rice, vegetables, and some meat, you can easily impress a crowd.” —Mike Lata, chef and owner, Fig, the Ordinary

Paella Pan + Paella Burner and Stand Set
$138, Amazon

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

Start your engines: our ultimate guide to overland travel

Start your engines: our ultimate guide to overland travel

by Tom Barber @ Intrepid Travel Blog

The beaming and curious smiles of the locals watch on as we load our bags into the back locker of our overland truck. The dirt road snakes its way onwards through gentle hills, punctuated by traditional thatched straw homes. Smoke from early morning cooking dots the horizon and mixes with the cool mist in the early morning sun. Another epic day on the road awaits.

The post Start your engines: our ultimate guide to overland travel appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Life in the north: our top 6 Arctic wildlife experiences

Life in the north: our top 6 Arctic wildlife experiences

by James Shackell @ Intrepid Travel Blog

One thing the Arctic does have is wildlife. Lots of it. On a size and scale that puts a lot of the more traditional ‘animal destinations’ to shame.

The post Life in the north: our top 6 Arctic wildlife experiences appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

How to budget travel in Scandinavia

How to budget travel in Scandinavia

by Ashlea Wheeler @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Scandinavia has a reputation for minimalism, everywhere except its prices. Time to pinch those pennies.

The post How to budget travel in Scandinavia appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

10 of the best places for coffee and brunch in south London this weekend

by @ Richmond and Twickenham Times | Food

Fancy having a relaxing coffee with mates this weekend? Looking for a hearty, warming meal ahead of an afternoon of Christmas shopping?

The Best Space Heaters

The Best Space Heaters

by Maxine Builder @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

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

The Best Electric Space Heater, Overall

4 stars, 13,149 reviews
“I love this little heater. I have had it for almost two years now (I was impressed to see how long I have had it, using it every workday with no issues) to keep me warm in my freezing office, and it is a lifesaver. It does a great job warming up my cubicle, and my co-workers are always surprised at the temperature difference at my desk when I have it on. Some even come over to warm up on extra-cold days. It is very quiet, too—you can only hear some light airflow, no more noisy than an office printer, and I barely notice it. When I do, it just sounds like white noise. Ten out of 10 recommend!”

Lasko 754200 Ceramic Heater With Adjustable Thermostat
$19, Amazon

The Best Personal Electric Space Heater

4.1 stars, 5,017 reviews
“Wow, this thing puts off a LOT of heat, for such a small heater! I was expecting some mild heat, but no, in only 30 seconds or so, this little guy really got toasty! I use it to keep my hands warm while using a keyboard or mouse, and I had to move it further away because it was making my hands too hot! Another thing I found neat is the fact that the sides of the heater don’t get hot. The sides, top, and bottom all stay perfectly cool, so you don’t have to worry about burning yourself if you want to pick it up or move it.

Forget heated keyboards or fingerless gloves, if you want to keep your hands warm while using a computer, get yourself one of these! VERY effective heating solution for a small price!”

Lasko #100 MyHeat Personal Ceramic Heater
$20, Amazon

The Best Design-Friendly Ceramic Space Heater for Small Spaces

4.2 stars, 325 reviews
“I love this little heater! Firstly, it’s pretty adorable, and secondly, it heats up a room super quickly. I don’t find it to be overly loud, but if you’re comparing it to a radiant unit, there’s no contest. (Think fan, not hair-dryer volume.) I would add a thermostat to have it turn off at a particular temp, but not having one is normal on a heater in this price range. The mechanism to turn it off when tipped is super sensitive, in a good way—I won’t ever worry about a pet or someone’s kid knocking it over and burning everything I own. No hellfire equals five stars!”

Honeywell HCE200B Uberheat Ceramic Heater
$37, Amazon

The Best Ceramic Tower Space Heater

4 stars, 13,149 reviews
“This tower heater has a small footprint but packs a lot of heat. When you turn it on, there is an almost instantaneous burst of hot air. I have found the thermostat settings to be quite accurate. The room it is used in is 12 feet by 10 feet. It will warm this room from 63 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in less than 20 minutes. The oscillating feature spreads the hot air around the room efficiently and quickly. The sound it produces is quite tolerable, barely noticeable when watching TV.”

Lasko 751320 Ceramic Tower Heater With Remote Control
$47, Amazon

The Best Space Heater for Large Rooms

4 stars, 13,149 reviews
“LOVE it … so much I’m considering getting a second one. It looks good, kind of retro like an old radio or receiver. It has temp control, so you only run it as hot as you wish. It produces enough heat to significantly warm up a room or area. It’s lightweight, so it is easy to move from place to place, and it has casters, so it can even just be rolled around. The small, rectangular size makes it easier to avoid having things too close to it, too.

Works perfectly, I couldn’t be happier, and it seems much safer than some of the older space heaters where you can really burn yourself by picking it up. This one has a nice power-off button and mode settings, so you can set it at, like, 70 degrees Fahrenheit and it will turn off when that temperature is reached. Perfect. Easy to shut off when you leave, too, because it shuts off immediately and begins cooling down, unlike older ones that stay hot for a while after, leaving you worried about fires.”

Dr. Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater, 1500-Watt
$103, Amazon

The Best Oil Space Heater

4 stars, 13,149 reviews
“The bathroom in the house we moved to doesn’t have heat (makes sense in New England, right?). It does have one of those ceramic vanity heaters, but it doesn’t work, and it can get quite cold in that room. I settled on an oil-filled heater because they do not get superhot, so children and pets or you won’t get burned if they come in contact with it, which was an important consideration since we have cats. I also liked the fact that they run silent, this one has automatic shutoff in case it overheats or gets tipped over.

We generally keep it near the tiled corner of the bathroom far away from water and unplugged when not in use. Break-in period was a couple hours, as instructed, and after about three hours, the smell was completely gone. We use it a lot in the winters. It makes that cold bathroom feel nice and toasty within 30 minutes. Sometimes it gets left on for hours while we’re around, and I don’t have to worry about it, although it’s never left on at night or unsupervised. We liked it so much we just bought another as a gift for a relative.”

DeLonghi EW7707CB Safe Heat 1500W ComforTemp Portable Oil-Filled Radiator
$71, Amazon

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

Beyond the pho: a street-level guide to Vietnam’s tastiest food

Beyond the pho: a street-level guide to Vietnam’s tastiest food

by Libby Shabada @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Yep, it does get better than banh mi.

The post Beyond the pho: a street-level guide to Vietnam’s tastiest food appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Stockholm vs Copenhagen: Which should you visit?

Stockholm vs Copenhagen: Which should you visit?

by Chris Girdler @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Are you a stylish nature lover who likes security and convenience, or a hipster cyclist who likes beer tasting over a candlelit dinner…decisions decisions.

The post Stockholm vs Copenhagen: Which should you visit? appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Tofu Onigirazu (Sushi Tofu Sandwich)

by Sindhu Bharadwaj @ Asian Inspirations

  1. Heat frying pan over medium-high heat. Pan-fry the tofu slices until golden brown and set aside to cool.
  2. To assemble, place a cling wrap on a chopping board and put a sheet of nori seaweed on top (shiny side facing down).
  3. Evenly spread the steamed rice (thinly) to form into a square

The post Tofu Onigirazu (Sushi Tofu Sandwich) appeared first on Asian Inspirations.

That Magic Feeling

That Magic Feeling

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

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

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

Q. What is “knowing” supposed to feel like?: I’m in a pretty serious relationship of a little over a year with a great partner. This is my first real long-term relationship. Sometimes when I’m with friends they talk about how they “know” the person they are with is who they want to spend their life with. I try to ask how they know, and they mostly say they “just feel it.” I don’t think I feel it, but I also have no idea what I’m supposed to feel. My partner is amazing and such a good match for me in so many ways. We’ve talked about marriage, but neither of us feel a rush.

Am I doing something wrong by staying in a relationship where I don’t necessarily feel this magical “it”? Or is there no such thing, and being happy is good enough?

A: One of the weird things about being a person is you don’t really have access to the inside of anybody else’s head. If people say something like they “just knew” they wanted to be with their partners for the rest of their lives but can’t offer much in the way of explaining what “just knowing” feels like, then you only speculate. Also, people often retroactively assign total confidence after the fact—if you’ve been happily married for a number of years, when you look back at the early days of your relationship together with the added benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to forget or dismiss moments of uncertainty. If you think your partner is an amazing person and that you two are a good match, and if you consider yourselves happy together, then I think you can safely say you’re in a good relationship.

Q. Do I give back the ring?: I lost my husband two years ago after we been married less than three months. He died in a motorcycle accident. I have had sporadic contact with his family since the funeral; they never really warmed up to me. There was also some ugliness when they realized that all my husband’s financials were put in my name after the wedding.

His younger sister is getting remarried and wants the wedding bands and engagement ring—they belonged to my husband’s grandparents. I still wear the wedding band. I am not 100 percent out there in the dating pool, but I have been trying to dip my toes. Should I give the rings back? Or maybe just the engagement ring? It hurts my heart to give up the signs of my marriage, but I don’t know if I have the right to hold on to them when I barely had him and they were family heirlooms.

A: You do have the right to your own wedding and engagement rings. The fact that your husband died unexpectedly shortly after you two were married is a tragedy, not evidence that you two weren’t “really” married or that you weren’t really his wife. If you would like to keep both rings, then don’t allow your husband’s family to pressure you into giving them up just because you were widowed. If you would like to offer one but not the other as a gesture of goodwill, then I think that would be extremely kind of you, but you’re under no obligation to do so. If nothing else, know that you have every right to keep anything your husband ever gave you—“family heirlooms” include you, as you became a part of your husband’s family the day you married him.

Q. Re: What is “knowing” supposed to feel like?: Just “knowing” is silly. People change a lot over the course of a lifetime. You can’t really know; you just take a leap of faith and roll the dice. Lots of arranged marriages work out great! And lots of people who “just knew” end up in a messy divorce 10 years later. If you’re truly happy and like to do stuff together, then you’re doing great. What you’re taking for granted right now is actually not easy to find.

A: Another vote for not feeling down about your own relationship just because you don’t have a magical, hazy, indefinable sense of “just knowing” about one another.

Q. Beauty is only skin deep: My 12-year-old daughter is not a pretty child. I know that makes me sound like a terrible parent, but it’s relevant to the question. I love her, and that makes her beautiful to me, but she doesn’t hit a lot of aesthetic markers for beauty. She has lots of other good qualities—academically, she is well ahead of the curve, she’s very compassionate, and she’s really a very sweet girl.

Her schoolmates, however, prefer to focus on her physical appearance, and there’s been some bullying this year. My wife always reassures her that the girls are just jealous, that she’s going to be more beautiful than any of them—the whole ugly duckling skit. However, I was an ugly little kid—there was a lot going on—and I knew it; I had a mirror. The lies my parents told me to comfort me just made me feel worse, because how terrible must it be to ugly that they’d lie to me about it? And every day I’d look to see if I’d finally grown out of it. Never did, but learned to work with it.

I want to start a new script, where we say it’s OK not to be fairy-princess beautiful at 12, that fashion and confidence can be more appealing than perfect hair, that she’s smart as a whip, and one day she can be pretty or not if she wants, but she’ll always be awesome. My wife hears that as “let’s just tell her she’s ugly and see what happens.” She thinks that our daughter believes she’s beautiful, and we just have to continue to repeat it.

Maybe she’s right? I know it’s harder for girls and women to be nonaesthetically pleasing in society. She could need us to tell her she’s beautiful and the other girls are just intimidated. It probably doesn’t help that my daughter looks a lot like a less-weird version of me at that age, so I might be projecting my needs at the time onto hers now.

A: I can cheerfully sign off on about 80 percent of what you’re proposing saying to your daughter. Tell her that she’s an awesome kid, that there are a number of qualities more important than perfect hair, that her confidence and sense of style are appealing and will serve her well in life, and that being super-gorgeous isn’t a sign of anyone’s intrinsic value or character. I don’t think you should speculate as to whether one day she may or may not be pretty; I understand what you’re trying to say there, but I don’t think it will do her much good to hear that from you. Your daughter already hears that she’s not attractive and that that’s not OK from her peers. What she needs from you is an alternative worldview—that while we live in a frequently image-obsessed society, it’s not the end-all and be-all of happiness and worth—as well as affirmation that she’s not an outcast or terrible to look at.

Q. Re: What is “knowing” supposed to feel like?: I “just knew” with my ex-husband. In retrospect, I should have “just thought about it a bit longer.”

A: It is interesting how often people will point to a vague, hazy feeling of “just knowing” when they talk about wanting to marry someone, but have no trouble getting specific and facts-based when they talk about wanting to get divorced.

Q. He told me I could look at his phone anytime: Then I did. There was a text from his sister that said, “Heidi x you = bad idea. She is a terrible person and you’ll get your heart broken.”

His sister barely knows me. She and I have met literally a total of about 12 hours. He and I have been together for five years, and yes, we have had some trouble, but we’ve had a lot of great times too. Both of us are in therapy. The texts, the phone—what is appropriate? I never want to see his phone again, but like a trainwreck, I’m finding myself drawn to it, wondering if there’s more toxicity about me on there. Will he defend me? He didn't that time. Is that his job? I want it to be.

A: I have so many follow-up questions, but I’ll do my best to answer your question with the limited information I’ve been given. The fact that you’ve spent a cumulative 12 hours with your boyfriend’s sister over the past five years, as well as the fact that you vaguely allude to “some trouble” between the two of you, suggests to me that there’s at least possible grounds for concern about your relationship. That doesn’t mean you have to agree that you’re a “terrible person,” but it’s worth investigating, as neutrally as possible, what’s happened between the two of you over the last five years that might give an outside observer pause.

Talk to your boyfriend about what you saw. What was the context for his sister’s warnings? What reason did he have for not defending you or your relationship? Do you think he agrees, in full or in part, that you are a “terrible person,” and if so, why are you two still together? Leave aside the fact that you two have had “a lot of great times.” That’s besides the point—the point is, do the two of you respect one another, can you communicate directly, and do you trust him? If the answer is no, then all the good times in the world won’t save your relationship.

Q. I don’t care!: A newish friend of mine used to work in an industry with a really strong macho culture, and now he often finds ways to shoehorn anecdotes from that time in his life into conversations about anything else. It’s his way of bragging. Is there a nice way of telling him I’m not impressed nor terribly interested in his hijinks one-upping the bros? And that he’s much more pleasant and interesting when he talks about his other interests and the rest of his life? We have a pretty snarky repartee, so I think if I were to be straightforward, he’d interpret it as sarcasm and maybe encouragement.

A: “You may not have noticed this, but when you bring up stories about your time working at [Boat Shoes and Toxic Masculinity, Incorporated], it feels like you’re bragging about a macho work culture that feels alienating and off-putting, and that doesn’t really represent the person I know you as now.” It would be hard, I think, to interpret that sort of observation as “sarcastic encouragement,” but if he meets you with a joke, I think you can make it plain that you’re not looking to wind him up but to talk honestly and openly about a certain form of exclusionary, performatively macho masculinity and how it affects people who don’t fit into its confines at work.

Q. Bathroom: My work station is right near the bathroom. The regular sounds of flushing and hand-washing don’t bother me, but I have two workers who are very loud. One is an old lady who just moans and groans like she is passing a kidney stone or giving birth. She is so loud that I have had clients on the phone comment about it. The second takes her cellphone into the bathroom and has private conversations all the time. She is extremely loud, and I can hear every detail—like her daughter cheated on her boyfriend and thinks she might be pregnant. It is embarrassing. I have told her she might want to go outside if she wants to call someone, as sound carries pretty well out here. She told me to mind my own business and no one likes an eavesdropper. I sit 3 feet away and can hear it through a closed door, and she screeches like a banshee.

It wouldn’t be so bad, but they do this every day rather than using the regular bathrooms downstairs. I feel I should record the noise from my desk and go to their supervisor, but I don’t know him well, and mine is useless. We don’t have an HR onsite here. Can you give me some advice?

A: Sometimes it can seem gentler to offer an indirect suggestion to someone at work rather than a direct request, but I think you’re experiencing firsthand the downsides to soft-pedaling. “I’m not trying to overhear any of your conversations, but I sit 3 feet away from the bathroom and can’t help but hear every word you say when you talk on the phone in the bathroom. It makes it difficult to speak to clients. Please take your personal calls where they won’t disrupt other people’s work.” If she dismisses you again, there’s no need to try to record her conversations—that’s not an appropriate response and, depending upon what state you’re in, may land you in trouble. Just take your concerns to your own supervisor (“useless” or not, he or she is part of the chain of command) before speaking to hers.

As for the older co-worker, I think you should take seriously the possibility that she does have kidney stones or is dealing with some sort of medical condition; there’s a world of difference between vocalizing involuntarily while in pain versus taking a phone call about your daughter’s love life in the bathroom at work.

Q. Girlfriend’s son age shock: I’m 24 and have been dating a girl, “Emily,” for about four months now, and I’ve never been more in love with a woman. I know it’s early, but I really think she is “the one.” Emily is 26 and was always upfront that she is a single mom with a young son. I haven’t met him yet, which seemed OK; I understood her taking time for us to meet. She talked about him a little bit, but I guess I wasn’t really paying that much attention when she did.

Emily lives with her mom, and I’ve been invited over for Christmas dinner. I wanted to get gifts for both her mom and son, and that’s when it came out that her son is 11 years old! I assumed that he was much younger than that, since Emily has a successful career and never mentioned that she’d been pregnant in high school. I’m not judgmental about that, but I never pictured being a dad to a kid this old. His biological dad is not part of his life, so I’d be his only father figure even though I’m only 13 years older than him. I don’t want to lose Emily, but I’m not sure about this. How can I become more comfortable with this idea? Is it possible that I will feel more enthusiastic after I meet him?

A: Emily is not asking you to become a father figure to her son after four months of dating. She is asking you to meet her son. It’s perfectly fine for you to feel anxious at the prospect of meeting him, especially when you pictured someone much younger but don’t feel like your next move has to be either “get ready to be a father to an 11-year-old” or “end your previously wonderful relationship.” The only task ahead of you is to spend a holiday meal together and to be friendly and welcoming. (Also, if you have a habit of “not paying that much attention” when your girlfriend talks about the age of her child, amend that habit as quickly as possible and work on your active listening skills.)

If you’re nervous or concerned, that’s completely understandable. If you have some questions for Emily, ask them, bearing in mind that she may not want to go into every single detail of her life as a single mother. You can share your fears with her. Don’t dump every thought that comes into your head upon her, but tell her that you’ve never done this before, that you’re not sure what to do, and that you want to be able to talk about what you want Christmas to look like as a couple. Be patient with yourself, keep an open mind, don’t make assumptions about what is and isn’t being asked of you, and talk honestly with your partner, and I think odds are good that you’ll have a lovely time together.

Q. My friend, the robot: I have been friends with “Clarissa” for 11 years. We currently live together with another roommate. For as long as I remember, Clarissa has been as empathetic as a rock—as in, not at all. She’s very pragmatic and logical, and while she tries very hard to be comforting, she sucks at it.

Our other roommate recently went through a breakup. After a few days, Clarissa attempted to comfort our roomie by saying, “He was a jerk anyway. I’m glad he won’t be around to use our bathroom anymore, ha ha!” Our roommate was upset by this, and it was cringe-inducing to watch.

Clarissa grew up as a child of (a nasty) divorce. She usually keeps her emotions to herself. I’m a very emotional person, and there are many things she does that concern me (for example, she won’t react to her feelings or if she does, later denies she ever acted emotionally). She’s a really warm person, but sometimes when trying to comfort or relate to people, she just seems cold. Is there anything I can say to her to help her?

A: If your roommate was hurt by what Clarissa said, then your roommate should say something to Clarissa about it. If you sometimes feel hurt by something Clarissa says or does, then you should say something to her about it, bearing in mind that your goal should not be “make sure Clarissa experiences emotions in the same way that I do,” but to honestly communicate what you’re feeling and what you need from her.

Mallory Ortberg: Thanks, everyone! May all of your camping trips this week be with willing companions.

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

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

Vietnamese

Vietnamese


BBC Good Food

Fresh salads, rice dishes and noodle soups are the order of the day when it comes to the vibrant cuisine of Southeast Asia.

The History Behind Chinese Lunar New Year

by Sindhu Bharadwaj @ Asian Inspirations

For many, the official start of the new year was 29 days ago, but many Chinese families are still in busy preparation for the most important traditional festival, the Chinese Lunar New Year, which kicks off 19 days from now, on February 16th.

Considered one of the world’s biggest traditional festivals, the …

The post The History Behind Chinese Lunar New Year appeared first on Asian Inspirations.

Malaysia’s street food secrets with blogger Robyn Eckhardt

Malaysia’s street food secrets with blogger Robyn Eckhardt

by James Shackell @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Robyn Eckhardt makes a living through writing and eating – not necessarily in that order.

The post Malaysia’s street food secrets with blogger Robyn Eckhardt appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Macedonia: A land of pies, passion and plenty

Macedonia: A land of pies, passion and plenty

by Meera Dattani @ Intrepid Travel Blog

"You forage, you find, you cook, you serve, you enjoy." One writer's food journey through Europe's little-known culinary hotspot.

The post Macedonia: A land of pies, passion and plenty appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

In Love With a Truther

In Love With a Truther

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Best Wireless Headphones

The Best Wireless Headphones

by Strategist Editors @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

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

Best Headphones Less Than $50

Best Workout Headphones

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

SENSO Bluetooth Wireless Sports Earphones
$30, Amazon

Best Foldable Over-Ear Headphones

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

Mpow Over Ear Bluetooth Headphones
$37, Amazon

Best Noise-Canceling Earbuds

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

LBell Wireless Headphones
$23, Amazon

Best Waterproof Sport Headphones

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

Sardonyx SX-918 Bluetooth Headphones
$30, Amazon

Best Over-Ear Headphones With Microphone

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

Avantree Bluetooth Headphones
$33, Amazon

Best Headphones Less Than $100

Best Cat-Ear Headphones

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

Wireless Color Changing Cat Headphones
$70, Amazon

Best Noise-Canceling Over-Ear Headphones

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

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

Best Headphones More Than $100

Best Around-Ear Headphones

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

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

Best Luxury Headphones

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

Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless Headphones
$400, Amazon

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

Our Premium Food Recipe

by Suum Kitchen @ Suum Vietnamese Kitchen

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Help! I’m Graduating College. He’s Graduating High School. Should I Ask Him Out?

Help! I’m Graduating College. He’s Graduating High School. Should I Ask Him Out?

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

Every week, Mallory Ortberg answers additional questions from readers, just for Slate Plus members.

Q. Weird May-December romance, or just creepy?: I was at a family friend’s house the other day for a dinner party, and I was talking to their son. I’ve known him for years now, but we haven’t been particularly close. Since it had been a while since I talked to him, it’s like I’m just now getting to know him—and he’s great! He and I have a lot of fun chatting, and at the last several parties we’ve attended, we’ve spent the entire party talking to each other. The last time, we were basically the only ones from our generation, so it was just us, alone—and I think we were genuinely into each other. We took a walk outside together and he even put his head on my shoulder when he joked about how tired he was. I think I might like him a little bit.

The problem? I just graduated college, and he’s a senior in high school! Is this weird? I most likely wouldn’t pursue anything anyway because he’s about to go to college, and because of the family history. How do I get rid of this mini-crush ASAP?

A: If you’re not planning on asking him out, and you know he’s going off to college relatively soon, then I don’t think you have to do much of anything. The two of you had a nice time talking during a few family dinners, but the fact that you’re the only attendees not of your parents’ generation might make your connection seem more intense than it would be in other contexts. A four- or five-year age gap isn’t always an issue between adults, but at your stage of young adulthood, the difference between “recent college graduate” and “high school senior” is significant, and it makes sense that, in addition to the fact that your families are close, you’ve decided against pursuing anything.

Trying to “get rid” of these feelings will probably have a paradoxical intensifying effect. It’s like trying not to think about an elephant. When your crush feelings surface, you can simply acknowledge them: Yep, I think he’s cute and charming, and I like talking to him, but I’m not comfortable with our age gap, and the family history is too fraught to consider dating him, at least right now. That doesn’t mean you have to start ignoring him, but there’s no reason to go out of your way to find reasons to see him again. Your decision is a good one, and I think you can stick with it, even while dealing with “mini-crush” feelings.

How to Appreciate Durian Taste in Southeast Asia

by Claire @ Authentic Food Quest

The post How to Appreciate Durian Taste in Southeast Asia appeared first on Authentic Food Quest.

The best beaches in southeast Asia: a definitive guide

The best beaches in southeast Asia: a definitive guide

by Tim Edwards @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Once you've sampled the food, culture and magnificent temples of southeast Asia, you'll want to relax - and these are the best beaches to do it.

The post The best beaches in southeast Asia: a definitive guide appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Gift Sets for Every Kind of Recipient

Gift Sets for Every Kind of Recipient

by Lori Keong @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

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

For a College Student Who Doesn’t Cook

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

Cravebox Deluxe Care Package Snack Box
$30, Amazon

For a Luxury–Skin Care Fiend

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

L’Occitane Gift Set
$154, Amazon

For a Person Who Loves Entertaining

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

Bamboo Cheeseboard and Charcuterie Set
$60, Amazon

For a Millennial

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

Bath Bomb Gift Set
$17, Amazon

For a Relative Who Loves Snacking

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

Holiday Gourmet Food Nuts Gift Basket
$28, Amazon

For a New Mom

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

Mustela Newborn Arrive Gift Set
$35, Amazon

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

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

Clarisonic Perfecting Starter Holiday Gift Set
$129, Amazon

For a Seasonal Drink Enthusiast

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

Tea Forte Warming Joy Presentation Box
$20, Amazon

For a Person Who Would Enjoy a Meat-Lovers Pizza

So. Much. Jerky.

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

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

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

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

For a Coffee Snob

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

Bean Box Gourmet Coffee Sampler
$24, Amazon

For a Creative Niece or Nephew

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

Crayola Inspiration Art Case
$17, Amazon

For a Person With a Sweet Tooth

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

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

For a Guy Who Wants to Optimize His Shaving Experience

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

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

For a Wellness Enthusiast

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

Essential Oils Gift Set
$13, Amazon

For an Aspiring Sommelier

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

Vremi 9-Piece Wine Gift Set
$30, Amazon

For a Burt’s Bees Devotee

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

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

For a Dad Who Loves to Grill Out

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

BBQ Grills Tool Set
$27, Amazon

For an Outdoorsman

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

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

For an Organic–Skin Care Absolutist

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

Organic Homemade Soap Gift Set
$35, Amazon

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

11 unusual Valentine’s Day traditions around the world

11 unusual Valentine’s Day traditions around the world

by Miranda Forstmanis @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Although February 14 has become synonymous with Hallmark in many parts of the world, not every culture chooses to declare their love via a romantic greeting card or overpriced rose...

The post 11 unusual Valentine’s Day traditions around the world appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

This is what it looks like to eat your way through Ireland

This is what it looks like to eat your way through Ireland

by Intrepid Travel @ Intrepid Travel Blog

To most outsiders, an Irish meal is like a Venn Diagram made up entirely of Corned Beef, Guinness and Potatoes. But as anyone who's visited will tell you - there's a lot more to Ireland than starch.

The post This is what it looks like to eat your way through Ireland appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Different Strokes

Different Strokes

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

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

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

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

Dear Prudence,
Recently my friend Amy made a new friend, Mary. I’ve met her a few times, and while we were polite to each other, she isn’t someone I’d care to interact with more than necessary. I don’t seek her out, nor do I invite her to social events. Mary has slowly become part of my circle of friends. She has made a few comments intimating she’s upset that she hasn’t been invited to some of our get-togethers, but she is in a very different financial bracket than the rest of us. The restaurants and events we choose to go to are pricey. I recently hosted a dinner party for my friends and their plus ones, and Amy brought Mary. I didn’t want her at my house. We’re not friends, and I don’t enjoy her presence. I’m hosting another dinner party for the holidays, and I know Amy will bring Mary. I do not invite people I don’t want to be around to my parties. How do I politely tell Amy to stop bringing Mary?
—She’s Not Invited; She Comes Anyway

I certainly hope your dislike for Mary is rooted in something other than “she can’t afford to spend as much money on appetizers as I can,” because the only sin she appears to have committed is being less rich than the rest of your friends. While you’re certainly within your rights not to invite Mary to an event you’re hosting, sending dinner-party invitations with further instructions about who someone can invite as a plus one should be reserved for more extreme cases than this one.

I think your best option is to include Amy on the invitation and find a way to enjoy yourself despite Mary’s presence—surely at a dinner party full of guests you’ll find someone you want to talk to. It would be awkward and, I think, an overexertion of your rights as a host, to send Amy an invitation “plus one,” then add, “but not the one you’d like to bring.” It would be one thing if Mary had said something rude or offensive the last time you’d had her as a guest in your home. In that case you might say something like, “I would love for you to come but I have to ask you not to bring Mary, because she was so rude to Scorinthians last time she visited/monopolized the conversation/stole my dishwasher.” That said, if you simply can’t stand the thought of Mary as a guest in your home, then you should ask Amy not to bring her. If Amy decides not to attend, or is angry with you for asking, then that’s a risk you’re simply going to have to run.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I broke up with my boyfriend of a few years about three months ago. We’ve kept things cordial, and I’ve made it very clear that we are only going to be friends. Recently his mother contacted me and told me that I needed to stop speaking with her son because I was “stringing him along.” She also said that my mother should block him on her social media pages because he “obsesses” over glimpses into my life. I told her I didn’t want to discuss him with her and ended the conversation. She persisted in telling me that she felt I was dismissive of her. I think I should let him know about her meddling, as it has caused problems for him in the past (she was sneaking around buying him alcohol when he was supposed to be cleaning up his act). But I also don’t want to cause any drama. Should I spill the beans? Keep it to myself? Stop talking to him altogether?
—Trying to Keep an Even Keel

Stop talking to your ex and his mother. You were rightly dismissive of his mother! What she did was so bizarrely inappropriate that it merited a thorough and a frosty dismissal. Do not take any more of her calls. He’s your ex, and it’s not your responsibility to make sure he has a good relationship with his mother. Don’t get overly enmeshed in his life just because she is.

I’m not saying you have to block his number if you genuinely enjoy his friendship, but you don’t say anything about wanting to be friends with him, merely that you have had to communicate more than once that he needs to stop trying to reignite your romance. If you told him you were “only going to be friends” not because you actually want to stay in his life but because you were trying to soften the blow of your breakup, you’re not doing either of you any favors. You’re not dating this guy anymore, and his mother is no longer your problem. It sounds like you gave yourself a great gift in disentangling yourself from him. Keep up the good work, and keep up the distance.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I’ve been with a man I love very much for 15 years, and I feel trapped. He is terrible with money and has lied to me a number of times to hide his shame at getting into yet another situation where bills got away from him. It seems that no matter how many times I tell him that it’s the lying that upsets me, not the money, nothing changes. I have more money than he does, so I can help him, but I think he feels inadequate because he’s not a “provider” even though he knows I don’t care about that. For obvious reasons, we have never commingled our finances. Between these money issues and some health issues, I feel that if we ever separated, he would be unable to make it on his own. And I don’t want to separate! But feeling like I can’t leave is a millstone around my neck.

Several years ago we did separate briefly, and he stayed with friends and never made progress toward living independently. We have what looks like an adult relationship; he does his share of the housework without being asked and is generally a good guy. But in the back of my mind I feel like I can never escape.

Is that crazy? If I don’t want to break up, why should the hypothetical consequences concern me? We’ve tried therapy, and while I thought at the time that it had helped us communicate, nothing has really changed, and neither he nor the therapist really ever understood why I feel so trapped. Am I not explaining it well, or am I looking at the situation the wrong way?
—Trapped

You feel trapped because you are trapped. You have not failed to explain why this dynamic is painful to you. Your boyfriend knows that it hurts and bewilders you when he lies to you about his finances, and he has decided not to do anything differently because this situation is working for him. You make so many excuses for him in your letter, saying that he lies to you “to hide his shame,” as if that justifies the fact that he regularly lies to you. He is not “terrible with money”—that phrase implies that it’s some innate, unchangeable part of his nature, rather than an active, continuous decision on his part. He makes bad choices with his money, and then he lies to you about those choices despite knowing that this makes you feel panicked, responsible for his survival, and as if you are going crazy, rather than having honest conversations and making difficult decisions. He has decided that letting you feel like you are going crazy and like you cannot leave him is worth not having those conversations. That’s wrong, and disrespectful, and cruel, full stop. If your definition of an “adult relationship” with a “good guy” is one where your partner does his share of the housework, but you still feel like you cannot leave him, please know, if nothing else, that that is not what an adult relationship with a good guy looks like. The 15 years you have spent in crisis and panic have steadily eroded your ability to see what healthy boundaries and expectations look like. I don’t say that to add to your burden, but it doesn’t sound like you have anyone in your life who can affirm what you already know to be true—that you’re in a damaging and an unsafe relationship. The need to convince yourself that things are mostly fine except for this one little thing—your sense of safety and freedom—is slowly destroying your sense of well-being.

Even if your boyfriend feels guilty about what he does, even if he feels shame or self-loathing, he has decided to continue doing it, regardless of the effect it has upon you. Set aside how you think your boyfriend feels about his choices, and look solely at his actions: They’re manipulative and controlling, and you don’t deserve to be treated that way. I encourage you to find a therapist you can see by yourself who can call this behavior what it is—abusive—and who can help you set up a plan for leaving him without getting sucked back into the cycle of manipulation, secrecy, and control.

Dear Prudence,
About three years ago I became friends with a guy in my grad program. (I’m a woman, and we’re both in our late 30s.) We’ve become close, and we talk about every aspect of our lives, including my dating life, but never his. In fact, he’s never mentioned any romantic prospects. I’ve long thought he might be gay, especially after I saw a couple of notifications pop up on his phone when he left it lying around that suggested he was interested in men. I know he goes to gay bars because he “likes the music.” We’ve even gone to some together, and he seems to know a lot of people there, although I’ve never seen him flirt or pick anyone up. I’ve brought up the topic in a general way, usually after we’ve had a few drinks, and he always laughs, deflects, and says he just “likes all people.”

We both come from somewhat conservative parts of the world, and I understand that this may be an issue with his parents, but we live in a big city and he’s an adult. In the last few months he’s become more moody, avoids me and other friends, and seems unhappy. He’s implied to one of his relatives that we had a romantic relationship in the past, which is not true. I want to help him, but I’m not sure how! Is there anything I can do or say?
—In the Closet

I’d encourage you not to frame your friend’s possibly being in the closet in terms of “being an adult.” Or, if you must, flip it on its head—if your friend is an adult, then respect his choice not to have an in-depth conversation with you about his sexual orientation when he deflects and offers you a polite nonanswer. It may be that he’s gay, or bisexual, or asexual, or aromantic; it may be that he faces more than simply “an issue” from his family. Whatever his situation, it won’t be helped by outside pressure. That doesn’t mean that your concern is misplaced or that you can’t offer your support. Tell him you’ve noticed that he’s seemed withdrawn and despondent lately and let him know that if he ever wants to talk, you’re available to listen without passing judgment. If he takes you up on your offer, that’s wonderful. If he doesn’t immediately respond, respect his wishes, but let him know that your door is always open if he ever changes his mind.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
I was in an abusive relationship years ago. I’m now happily settled with a wonderful woman and am not affected in my everyday life by this abuse. But I wonder if I should go public with this, in order to warn other women in the queer community here, which is a very small world. By letting my friends know she was both emotionally and physically abusive to me, am I doing others a service or setting myself up for drama and retaliation? I’d kind of like to make it known, but I’m wary of any possible resulting conflict or negative effects on my life.
—Do I Out My Abuser?

It makes sense that you’re concerned about potential negative repercussions from speaking openly about your abuse. I wish I could tell you that you won’t experience any, but it’s entirely possible that you will. It may help to speak with a counselor or an advocate for victims of domestic violence first. They can help you clarify your goals, protect yourself from possible retaliation, and weigh the pros and cons as you see them when it comes to speaking up. Bear in mind that it is not your duty to make sure that your ex does not abuse anyone else—that responsibility is only theirs. You say that you’d “kind of like” to talk about your experience but that you have a number of concerns; my advice is to talk through your feelings with your partner, a counselor, or someone else you trust to have your best interests at heart first. Only you can decide whether or not the potential costs are worth it, and you can and should ask for support as you figure out what’s right for you.

* * *

Dear Prudence,
When I had my daughter a few years ago, I invited my mother to visit. She seemed excited to be a grandmother, and even though we’ve had a fraught relationship in the past, I trusted her to help me. She did not. She made very hurtful comments about my weight the day after I gave birth via an emergency C-section (it’s not the first time she’s said cruel things to me). I tried to let it go, but in the week she spent with us afterward, she just got worse. I was feeling emotional from the hormones and the painkillers, so I didn’t want to watch anything violent. She put on an episode of a horror show that showed a baby being dismembered and didn’t turn it off when I asked. We got into a fight, and I asked her to leave. Eventually, we found a way to make peace, but I’ve never really trusted her since. Her behavior since then has been ... OK. I’ve had to draw firm boundaries and vigorously enforce them to keep her from saying cruel things to me or doing things with my daughter that my husband and I do not want, such as getting her ears pierced or cutting her hair without our permission.

Now I’m pregnant again, and everyone, including my husband, expects that I’ll have my mother visit us again to help after the new baby is born. She seems excited to spend time with her grandchildren. But thinking about having her near me while I’m vulnerable makes me feel ill. My husband insists that she’s changed and I’m making a big deal over nothing, but her words hurt and I don’t want to have to defend myself while I’m trying to recover from having a baby. I don’t want her around me until I’ve had some time to recover. My husband thinks I’m being cruel or unfair to her, and that she doesn’t really mean the hurtful things she says. I just don’t trust her, and even if she says cruel things out of carelessness, I don’t think it’s so much to ask people to be kind to me while I’m recovering. I hate the idea of her being around me when I’m hurting and weak, but I don’t know how to say anything to her if my own husband won’t even back me up.
—No Grandma Visits

Generally speaking, if someone says hurtful things a lot, even after someone else points out, “Hey, what you said was hurtful, and I want you to stop,” they mean the hurtful things they say. Your mother hasn’t had a series of verbal accidents, and your decision not to have her visit while you’re in the hospital recovering or in the days after you give birth is completely reasonable. I’m sorry that your husband is trying to dismiss your feelings, but since you’ve already had practice vigorously enforcing boundaries with her, you’ve got a good foundation to start with: “I’m not being cruel. I’m making sure that I’m comfortable, safe, and relaxed after giving birth to our child. I’m going to invite my mother to visit [preferably for a shorter time than before] X weeks after the baby is born, and I expect your support in this.”

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

More Dear Prudence

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

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

Friendly Ghost: Why is my pal blowing me off?

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

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

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

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

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Aldi is selling a giant 3-litre bottle of Prosecco in stores as of today

by @ Richmond and Twickenham Times | Food

Aldi has just super-sized Christmas - or at least the sparkling wine side of it.

The best value champagnes you can buy this Christmas - and how to drink them right

by @ Richmond and Twickenham Times | Food

It’s easy to forget that Champagne doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg! (You can buy a bottle for just over £10 at Lidl and for £12 at Tesco and Iceland).

3D2N at The Cliff Resort & Residences Phan Thiet at the price of only 2.899.000 VND / person

by Ha Nguyễn @ Vietnam Travel Guide

Staying at The Cliff Resort & Residences Phan Thiet with unbeatable rates, you will find that the money spent on the experience is perfectly worth it.

The post 3D2N at The Cliff Resort & Residences Phan Thiet at the price of only 2.899.000 VND / person appeared first on Vietnam Travel Guide.

1. Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls (4)

by ADMIN_PHO68 @ Saigon68

The post 1. Vietnamese Fried Spring Rolls (4) appeared first on Saigon68.

Why Taiwan is Asia’s next big food destination

Why Taiwan is Asia’s next big food destination

by Chelsea McIver @ Intrepid Travel Blog

From small eats (‘xiao chi’) on the street, to Michelin-starred restaurants and chefs, Taiwan has it covered.

The post Why Taiwan is Asia’s next big food destination appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

This is how you can buy food from all your favourite shops and market sellers in one place

by @ Richmond and Twickenham Times | Food

Many of us will have favourite little shops we love to visit when we’re in a particular area or certain market stalls we always look out for.

Popular Epsom pub re-opens with ‘more traditional’ look after extensive refurbishment

by @ Richmond and Twickenham Times | Food

A popular Epsom pub re-opened its doors last week after an extensive refurbishment.

Japanese Potato Salad

by Sindhu Bharadwaj @ Asian Inspirations

  1. In a saucepan, place peeled potatoes and enough water to cover the potatoes and boil until they become soft.
  2. Drain the potatoes and spread dashi well over them. Then, mash the potatoes roughly with a fork. Put them back to cook on the stove for about 2 mins and add rice or

The post Japanese Potato Salad appeared first on Asian Inspirations.

Thailand in one week: The ultimate guide

Thailand in one week: The ultimate guide

by Harris Newman @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Buddhist culture, spicy food, chic shopping and plenty of natural wonders. Fret not, travelers – this seven-day Thailand itinerary covers all those and more.

The post Thailand in one week: The ultimate guide appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Cambodian cuisine: Everything you need to know

Cambodian cuisine: Everything you need to know

by Rebecca Shapiro @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Most people know little about this overlooked Asian cuisine. This is a shame, because if you're going to visit Angkor Wat and co., you might as well eat well while you're at it.

The post Cambodian cuisine: Everything you need to know appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

For an Increasing Number of Youth in Juvenile Detention, Learning Is Possible

For an Increasing Number of Youth in Juvenile Detention, Learning Is Possible

by Francesca Berardi @ Slate Articles

Before Malik was locked away in a juvenile prison in Woodsbend, a small town tucked into Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains, he didn’t care much about school. No one in his immediate family has a high school diploma and his teachers, it seemed, only cared about the successful students.

Malik, who is 18, spent a year and a half at Woodsbend for burglary and robbery. His experience in juvenile detention completely shifted his perspective on education. The game changer was his encounter with Stephen McKenzie, a teacher who earned Malik’s trust by showing him that he wouldn’t give up on him during a course in chemistry. To help him get comfortable with the material, McKenzie set up a makeshift lab just for Malik: a project that requires extra imagination in a juvenile facility since many chemicals and objects are banned. “He showed me how to tell volumes using cups full of water and different weights,” Malik says.

The day Malik completed the chemistry course, McKenzie and other members of the staff borrowed a lab coat from the facility’s nurse and brought it to him. “He was holding a beaker and he was ... just smiling,” McKenzie recalls of the moment, which they photographed.

Malik’s academic turnaround is not an isolated story at Woodsbend or other juvenile facilities in Kentucky. In 2013, the state revamped its approach to education through a combination of new strategies: It expanded the use of online education without forgoing in-person instruction and shored up vocational programs. The budget remains the same, it’s just being used more creatively.

This is part of a national effort to transform schooling in juvenile education centers. Increasingly, officials are realizing that incarcerated youth are in a unique position to buckle down and focus on school—even if they’ve been wayward or absent students in their former lives. While incarcerated, students like Malik are, in effect, a captive audience with little else to occupy their time. Some of them experience an epiphany of sorts when, separated from past living conditions and habits, they can finally recognize and appreciate the importance of education in forging a different path.

For decades, incarcerated youth have been the forgotten students of American education. But they’re also the population where a few extra resources, creativity, and support can go the furthest. Slowly—too slowly, some say—that’s starting to change, in Kentucky and elsewhere.

The organization behind much of this work is the five-year-old Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings, which has been helping Kentucky and 17 other states across the country rethink budgeting, teacher training, and educational programming for incarcerated youth. Specifically, the organization hosts training camps for teachers and administrators from juvenile facilities, where they gather to share ideas and brainstorm together. Over the past four years, educators from 70 facilities have taken part in these sessions.

The center has customized relationships with partner states and cities: Some just send teachers to the training, or rely on the group for help with specialized programming; in other cases, the center is much more involved, managing the day-to-day operations of the juvenile facility. Center founder David Domenici, who is a lawyer, says he hopes the work will help spark a broader “revolution” throughout the country. He was founding principal of the Maya Angelou Academy, a facility serving incarcerated youth in Washington. At Maya Angelou, Domenici test-drove his ideas, which he hoped would create a far more engaging and individualized approach for students.

In New Orleans, the school actually runs inside the city’s juvenile center, serving an average of 40 students. Over the summer, Domenici announced the results of their first year: Three students graduated, and overall the kids at the school passed 79 “end-of-course exams,” which are a requirement for graduation in Louisiana.

This year Kentucky paid the center a fee of $17,500 for technical support, advice in key areas, and teacher training. The person responsible for bringing the center’s approach to Kentucky is Sylvia Kuster, a former elementary teacher who now oversees the educational programs in six detention centers where youth wait for their trials, and eight more long-term facilities for juveniles convicted of crimes.

Kuster, who is 69, divides her time between her house in northeastern Kentucky, her office in Frankfurt, and her white Toyota, which she calls her second apartment. With a change of pressed clothes always hanging in the back of her car, she often travels from one youth facility to another.

She first reached out to Domenici’s organization in 2013 because she wanted support helping incarcerated students use the Internet more safely and effectively in their coursework. Domenici and his team showed teachers how to tightly monitor and control web use within their correctional centers, creating “blacklists” and “whitelists” of websites, and keeping track of the search histories on each device. Whereas inmates were previously forced to work on computer courses that were anything but interactive, the new protocol allows them to take more sophisticated courses like their peers on “the outside.”

The dividends of that outreach were clear one sunny morning in early May, when a dozen students sat in the math and science class at the Woodsbend facility, each of them focused on their own personalized program. One of them studied the effects of pollution on lungs, reading an article from a scientific magazine on an iPad. Every few minutes, he stopped to take notes in a notebook and to answer written questions provided by a teacher. A student named Chad, 18, sat at a computer designing a racing car with a 3-D design app called Tinker and an online tutorial opened in another window. “I enjoy doing this stuff,” said Chad. “All that I want now is a diploma,” he added, noting that online courses may help make that more feasible.

At Woodsbend, teachers and students communicate through an internal email server, and maintain a sharing platform through Edmodo, where educators can post links to YouTube videos thanks to a filter called Safeshare. Students can also use Chromebooks and work after school hours with an offline system. The software and Chromebooks were either provided by Domenici’s group or purchased with federal money from Title I funds.

In the Northern Kentucky Youth Development Center, Aaron, who is 16, said he’s able to “fly” through his courses thanks to the new online programming. In the first two weeks at the center he earned an entire credit in science, which usually takes a semester. He says the courses provide plenty of examples, videos, and lab lectures. Aaron dreams of attending college someday—he’s already compiled a list of ones that interest him—and wants to study either criminal justice or engineering.

One new initiative that makes Kuster feel especially proud is a partnership with the Department of Labor that grants certificates and trains kids for jobs in fields with the greatest number of openings. In Woodsbend, they offer carpentry and electricity. At the Northern Kentucky Youth Development Center, classes are offered in fiber-optic wiring and masonry, two growing sectors in the area.

There are a few reasons this effort is happening now.

The first is the national push to decrease the number of juvenile inmates. Over the past 10 years, the number of incarcerated youth has fallen from about 93,000 in 2006 to 48,000 in 2015. With less-crowded facilities, administrators have been able to start focusing on how to improve their services, rather than using all their energy to maintain order. “People started asking: Now that it is not terrible, can we actually make it good?” says Domenici.

In order to decrease the number of incarcerated youth, some states are attempting to create alternative community-based programs that keep kids monitored but out of jail-like settings. In Kentucky, there has also been a push to avoid incarcerating youth who commit “status offenses”—noncriminal acts such as running away from home or attempting to purchase tobacco or alcohol underage. It’s a challenging work in progress: In 2014 more than 1,000 juveniles in Kentucky were still detained for these more minor offenses.

The move to shrink and improve these places is responding to the growing recognition that juvenile facilities often exacerbate social inequality rather than rehabilitate wayward youth. A letter released by the federal departments of justice and education in 2014 reported that fewer than 50 percent of incarcerated youth were earning a diploma, and more than 70 percent had learning disabilities, prompting agitation and lawsuits from advocates, parents, and even governmental agencies across the country. The federal government urged local administrators to “be creative” and find a way to offer an education “comparable to offerings in traditional public schools.”

The needs of the remaining students is partly why states like Kentucky can’t rely on online courses alone to improve their educational offerings. They also need more dedicated and qualified teachers throughout their youth facilities.

“Our educational program has improved tremendously, but we need more teachers,” says Kuster, adding that they’re obliged to follow the student to teacher ratio set by the local school district. With the impossibility of hiring a range of specialist teachers, most educators at Woodsbend take on several roles. Last May, the principal was also teaching English and social studies. Stephen McKenzie taught math and science (he is licensed in both). Two vocational teachers offered training in carpentry and electricity. And another educator taught kids life and resume-building skills so they could apply for jobs and manage their personal finances. The majority of the youths who arrive at the facility are behind academically, sometimes unable even to read. And Kuster says the facility desperately needs a qualified special education instructor.

Because of fluctuations in the prison population and different agencies involved, the jobs aren’t always stable, which can be a deterrent to potential teachers. But those who work in juvenile facilities say there are other rewards apart from the pay. There’s no comparison to watching a formerly troubled student turn his life around. In the Northern Kentucky Youth Development Center—a facility where the majority of kids have been charged with sexual offenses—Dave Gideon, a former youth worker, finds the greatest remuneration in his students’ progress. He teaches a vocational course in fiber optic wiring and recalls one student named Jonathan, who was angry and disillusioned when he arrived at the detention center last fall. Jonathan had been living in a car with his father, and his mother was in jail; he had earned only seven high school credits.

Jonathan, who is 18, had become much more motivated and consistent with his schoolwork inside the facility. He took most of his courses online, but his favorite class was a hands-on course: the one in fiber-optic wiring taught by Gideon. “Thanks to people like David, something that I thought was impossible, now is very, very possible,” Jonathan said last May while sitting in his classroom. “Here they taught me to be honest and patient, something important for my future outside.” There are many things he dislikes about being incarcerated, but he appreciates the reliability. “I know that everything in that schedule is actually going to happen,” he says. “Before, I didn't even know when I would be eating my next meal—now I can make plans.” Jonathan graduated and was released over the summer. He is currently living in a group home and working on enrolling in a community college.

As the continued difficulty attracting and hiring enough qualified teachers shows, the new improvement efforts certainly haven’t solved all of the myriad problems facing juvenile inmates (and nor has the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings even reached a majority of states). Although the numbers of youth inmates are dropping, those kids who remain tend to have greater social problems and need much more intense care than some of their predecessors. Experts say that accountability is a thorny, and huge, challenge. Tracking results is particularly difficult at schools inside juvenile facilities: many kids spend only short stints there, and there’s often not a consistent enough number to make graduation rate data meaningful, for instance. According to Peter Leone, a professor at the University of Maryland’s College of Education, the federal government needs to issue much clearer guidelines to states on how schools inside juvenile facilities should be run, and how results should be tracked—and not hesitate to withhold federal funds from those states that don’t meet the standards.

In the meantime, there’s a new sense of optimism at least among some, including McKenzie, the math and science instructor at Woodsbend. He says that initially he felt frustrated and somewhat isolated when he began teaching there; even with 18 years of experience in public schools, he had no idea how to connect with teachers in other juvenile facilities. The meetings with staff from the Center for Educational Excellence helped change that. Now, he’s in touch with teachers working in similar settings from across the country and he’s confident he can make a difference, at least with some students.

In May, when I visited Woodsbend, Malik did not know whether he would soon be released or would have to transfer to an adult facility to finish his sentence. During his incarceration, he earned his high school diploma and even took some college courses; he dreams of finishing his college studies and becoming an industrial electrician. Malik felt an attachment—and appreciation—for the teachers at Woodsbend that’s unlike any connection he’s ever had with a school. He’s out now, but he knows one day he’ll return to Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains to revisit Woodsbend—this time of his own volition. “Whenever I graduate college, I’ll go to Woodsbend and thank my teachers,” he says.

The Best Champagne Glasses on Amazon

The Best Champagne Glasses on Amazon

by Maxine Builder @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

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

Best Pair of Crystal Champagne Flutes

4.6 stars, 207 reviews

“Extra-special in looks and would be the perfect ‘toast flutes’ for weddings, at events or [parties]. A few times a year I host events and celebrate with Champagne and loving adding these to my collection. An extra kind of fancy and I just love them. Besides the lovely shape, this set of flutes are made extremely well. Sitting all beautiful and level and being very lightweight, which I can certainly appreciate. At the same time, they are far from being fragile. Very tall and display very nicely. I would love to add a few more to my collection and definitely recommend to others.”

Bella Vino Crystal Champagne Flute Glasses
$20, Amazon

Best Pair of Insulated Stemless Champagne Flutes

4.5 stars, 255 reviews

“These Champagne glasses are a very cute and unique way to toast or simply enjoy a glass of Champagne—or even sparkling cider. The double wall gives the glass a different look than your standard glass yet allows the inside to maintain the temperature longer than a regular glass. The glass itself has a good weight to it but is not overly heavy. It does not seem thin and fragile as a standard Champagne glass. The cylindrical shape allows for an easy grasp that fits nicely in the palm of your hand. However, it has a very smooth finish, and there is nothing to keep it from sliding out of somebody’s hand—if, say, they already had one too many. I personally hold it with my pinky under the bottom for security.”

Eparé Champagne Flutes, Insulated Stemless Glass Set
$18, Amazon

Best Set of Four Crystal Champagne Flutes

4.5 stars, 377 reviews

“These are beautiful glasses that have a nice weight to them and feel special in the hand. The one thing that I did not think about when I bought them, however, was that, even though they are dishwasher-safe, they are too tall to fit in the top drawer of my dishwasher. The Champagne does bubble nicely in them … That said, I’d buy more of these, if I needed them.”

Schott Zwiesel Tritan Crystal Glass Pure Stemware Collection Champagne Flute with Effervescence Points, 7.1-Ounce, Set of 4
$56, Amazon

Best Set of Four Decorative Crystal Champagne Flutes Less Than $25

4.4 stars, 160 reviews

“I purchased a set of these crystal Champagne flutes recently, and was so happy and pleased when I received them! They look like they cost so much more than they did! They are so beautiful! These Champagne flutes make you feel a little bit special, when you use them! I would definitely purchase them for a wedding gift, or a housewarming gift!”

Godinger Dublin Crystal Champagne Flutes, Set of 4
$18, Amazon

Best Set of Four Decorative Crystal Champagne Flutes Less Than $50

4.5 stars, 142 reviews

“I purchased the wine flutes as a wedding shower gift, they were lovely, so I had to buy a set for myself. So, with the beautiful Champagne flutes and a nice bottle of Champagne I had a very lovely wedding shower gift for under $50.”

Marquis by Waterford Omega Flute, Set of 4
$41, Amazon

Best Set of Four Plastic Stemless Champagne Flutes

4.1 stars, 263 reviews

“I bought both the wine and Champagne flutes. Was worried they would look cheap and ugly—they didn’t! Friends are shocked they’re not glass. Lightweight, perfect for our boozy concert picnics in D.C., where no one wants to give up form for function. Don’t wash in dishwasher and they’ll last a long, long time I think. Just bought two sets (wine and Champagne) for two friends and I’m positive they’ll love them as much as I do.”

Govino Go Anywhere Champagne Flute, 8-Ounce, Pack of 4
$13, Amazon

Best Set of 12-Glass Stemless Champagne Flutes

4.3 stars, 308 reviews

“Amazing for entertaining. I got these for NYE and have also used them for mimosas during brunch. Much better than glasses with stems for guests. They are just more stable and less likely to go flying with the commotion of a party. I don’t want to serve nice drinks in plastic cups—stemless wine and Champagne glasses are seriously the best option for a party! I always get compliments on mine and so will you!”

Libbey Stemless Flute Glasses, 12 Piece Set
$25, Amazon

Best Set of 12 Plastic Champagne Flutes

4.7 stars, 174 reviews

“I bought these for a boating trip and they were perfect. I’m not one to give 5 stars but these flutes deserve it. It was nicely packed when it came. The glass is sturdy, looks elegant and perfect for any event. I’ve bought Champagne glasses like these before but other brands need assembly. No assembly is required for these! You can also re-use these glasses. Although these flutes are disposable, they are of such high quality! You do not want to regret not buying these glasses.”

Premium Quality Plastic 5-oz. Champagne Flute, Set of 12
$20, Amazon

Best Set of 12 Plastic Stemless Champagne Flutes

4.6 stars, 602 reviews

“Perfect for an outdoor wedding. They are sturdy so I didn’t have to worry about them tipping over from the wind or someone bumping a table. And since they were disposable, it made the after-party cleanup very easy.”

TOSSWARE 9-oz. Flute, Set of 12
$11, Amazon

Best Set of 96 Plastic Champagne Flutes

4.5 stars, 118 reviews

“I thought these were excellent value for just a ton of attractive party glasses. They look good in person. They’re sturdy, like, sturdy enough that if you wanted to you could use them again. We were able to build a little tower with them. They’re very clear, They’re colorless (I had been concerned they might have a yellow tinge) and they just held up really well. I’m really pleased with the purchase.”

Fineline Settings 2106 - 5 Ounce Flairware ClearOne Piece Champagne Flute 96 Pieces
$48, Amazon

Best Champagne Bong

4.6 stars, 358 reviews

“I absolutely LOVE to Chambong! I bought my original Chambong before the holidays and let me tell you, it really gets the party started! My first bong was back ordered twice so I was super happy to find this one on Amazon Prime. I also need to tell you guys how impressive the packaging is. Wow! That’s half the reason I bought this second bong as a gift for my Champs-lovin’ friend. She went nuts for it!”

Chambong
$35 for 2, Amazon


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

Advocates Have Found Five Qualities Associated With Sexual Violence. The Classical Music World Hits Four of Them.

Advocates Have Found Five Qualities Associated With Sexual Violence. The Classical Music World Hits Four of Them.

by Ellen McSweeney @ Slate Articles

Last week, the American sex abuse crisis reached the most elite and rarefied echelon of “entertainment”: the opera house. And while most Americans may never have seen The Marriage of Figaro, the classical music field is a surprisingly tidy case study in the environmental factors that make sexual abuse—and its cover-up—possible.

The conductor James Levine—who for four decades was the principal conductor of the Metropolitan Opera—has been accused of sexual abuse by four different men, whose claims date as far back as the 1960s. Levine has denied the accusations, calling them "unfounded." Within the tightknit professional music community, rumors of Levine’s alleged behavior had long been an “open secret.” Now, it appears the lives of at least four young musicians may have been permanently altered by his alleged abuse of power.

Although the stories about Levine’s alleged abuse are heart-wrenching, he’s not a figure that means much to most Americans. The average person isn’t wringing her hands about whether she can still ethically enjoy Levine’s recordings. But mainstream society, now awash in tarnished names much more famous than Levine’s, can learn something from the #MeToo moment at the opera.

Classical music institutions like the Met don’t have to dig very deep in order to understand where things went wrong. Through decades of research, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center—which rose out of the feminist rape crisis movement of the 1970s—has identified five problematic norms that contribute to an environment in which sexual violence takes place. As a workplace and as an art form, classical music is at risk in four of them. (The fifth one, normalizing violence, is less applicable—but tolerance of aggression and victim blaming make it a harder one to eliminate than you might think.)

Norms about women. Oppression, objectification, and limited roles for women are all markers of an environment where people of all genders could become victimized. While women have been winning orchestra jobs in increasing numbers (particularly since the advent of the blind audition), the most revered roles in the industry—composer and conductor—are still largely reserved for men. Of 103 high-budget orchestras in the United States, just 12 have female conductors at the helm. And when the Baltimore Symphony surveyed the 2016–17 programming of American orchestras, it found that just 1.3 percent of the selected music had been written by women. Classical music still hasn’t placed enough women in positions of true power, and that means all of its workplaces are at risk.

Norms about power. Where unequal power dynamics live, sexual abuse can thrive. Unequal power relations and strict hierarchies are deeply ingrained into the functioning of almost every symphony orchestra. In a typical rehearsal, the power of the conductor is absolute: He makes every artistic decision, is the only person who speaks, and in many organizations is still referred to as “maestro” (which translates roughly to “master”).

Michael Lewanski, a conductor and assistant professor of music at DePaul University in Chicago, has experienced firsthand the tremendous power and reverence given to conductors. “The concentration of power in the classical music industry serves everyone poorly,” he said. “It puts many musicians and students in positions where they are powerless—or rather, positions where they have given away the power they have as humans. That’s how a well-meaning, hard-working teenager [like Levine’s accusers] ends up in a position to be exploited, sexually or otherwise, by a figure they’ve been trained to deify. And the conductor’s training is very much the opposite. His worst behaviors are enabled and excused.”

Norms about masculinity. Traditional constructs of manhood are another risk factor for a culture of sexual violence. And perhaps the most significant trope in professional classical music is that of the genius—the male genius. Using data gathered from more than 14 millions reviews on RateMyProfessor.com, professor Ben Schmidt of Northeastern University found that students in music were more than twice as likely to use the word genius about a male professor than a female one. (Music students were also more likely to use the word genius than students from any other discipline.)

The trope of the genius conductor remains persistent—even in coverage of his demise. On Dec. 6, as readers began to respond to the Levine accusations, the New York Times printed some letters to the editor under the exasperating headline: “Artistic genius and sexual misconduct.” Continuing to use this language is a perpetuation of the problem: It was precisely this insistence on male hero-worship that led to Levine’s impunity in the first place.

Norms about privacy. Overvaluing individual privacy fosters a climate of secrecy in which abuse can take place undetected—and a great deal of classical music training takes place in an extraordinarily private setting.

“Musicians choose a conservatory based almost entirely on a mentorship with one teacher,” said Patti Niemi, longtime percussionist of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. “We spend an hour a week behind a closed door. This teacher then has the opportunity to tell you he’s fallen in love with you, that you’re the first thing he thinks about when he wakes up, and to kiss you. With these powerful mentors, we have no options once the abuse begins.” Niemi’s book, Sticking It Out, chronicles the harassment and abuse she endured at the hands of her percussion teacher—and her ultimately triumphant struggle to continue her career.

Throughout his career, Levine too has appealed to the notion of privacy, deflecting questions about what he called his “private life.” In a 1998 interview with the Times, Levine said: “When you do your work in public, your biggest responsibility to that public is to do what is necessary to protect and develop your talent.” The idea here is that Levine’s talent—his genius—is a precious commodity that must be given quiet room to rest. But it was within this proverbial private space that Levine likely would have conducted his alleged abuse. By nurturing his and others’ right to privacy above security and scrutiny, classical music has likely lost a great deal of genius to unseen abuse.

The conductor of the Boston Symphony, Andris Nelsons, recently put his foot in his mouth when he asserted that sexual misconduct wasn’t a serious problem for classical music. Later, in some backpedaling remarks, he said: “Though involvement in music … can’t cure all the ills of society, I do believe [it] has the potential to help us reflect ... on the better angels of our natures. Or more simply put by Beethoven—the genius composer of the ‘Ode to Joy’ symphony, considered the universal anthem of brotherly/sisterly love—‘Music can change the world.’ ”

It would be nice to pretend that musicians worked in the same utopia Beethoven imagined centuries ago. But the workplace is not yet as beautiful as the art. Making the concert hall a more humane place will require a particular kind of creative work: the work of culture change. This is a task not for a lone genius, but for a symphony of ordinary human beings who choose not to avert their eyes or their ears.

A foodie’s guide to South India

A foodie’s guide to South India

by Jack Cummings @ Intrepid Travel Blog

With a year-round tropical climate, awe-inspiring views and fresher than fresh produce, Kerala lets you eat like a deity every single day.

The post A foodie’s guide to South India appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Red hot culinary tips from our Intrepid foodies

Red hot culinary tips from our Intrepid foodies

by Intrepid Travel @ Intrepid Travel Blog

We've scoured the globe to assemble our Intrepid Foodies, top chefs, bloggers and restaurateurs who like to travel on their stomachs.

The post Red hot culinary tips from our Intrepid foodies appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

How to Spend Valentine’s Day in Chiang Mai, Thailand

by Claire @ Authentic Food Quest

The post How to Spend Valentine’s Day in Chiang Mai, Thailand appeared first on Authentic Food Quest.

All you corn eat: our guide to the best Mexican street foods

All you corn eat: our guide to the best Mexican street foods

by Philippa Whishaw @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Brought to you from the smoky markets, carts and cantinas of Mexico, here are our favourite street-side snacks.

The post All you corn eat: our guide to the best Mexican street foods appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Eastern Europe in one week: The ultimate guide

Eastern Europe in one week: The ultimate guide

by Nathan James Thomas @ Intrepid Travel Blog

The prices are cheaper, the culture is just as rich, and the people just as friendly...Why wouldn't you go to Eastern Europe? Here's how to do it in 7 days.

The post Eastern Europe in one week: The ultimate guide appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Unusual Christmas traditions from around the world

Unusual Christmas traditions from around the world

by Justin Meneguzzi @ Intrepid Travel Blog

If you think all the tinsel, reindeers and ugly sweaters have become all a bit too twee, check out some of these more unusual Christmas customs from around the world.

The post Unusual Christmas traditions from around the world appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Trangs Big Heart for Children in Vietnam

by admin @ Trang Vietnamese Restaurant – West End

Generosity from North Lakes Direct to Vietnam kids Charity Event for children in Vietnam was running in the Food Court in Westfield North Lakes in December 2016. Trang Restaurant had a food stall in North Lakes food court every day until January […]

The post Trangs Big Heart for Children in Vietnam appeared first on Trang Vietnamese Restaurant - West End.

Friendly Ghost

Friendly Ghost

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

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

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

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

* * *

Dear Prudence,

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

—Haunted After Being Ghosted

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

* * *

Dear Prudence,

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

—Heartbroken

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

Dear Prudence,

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

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

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

—Stay or Go

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

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

* * *

Dear Prudence,

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

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

—Coming Out Again

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

* * *

Dear Prudence,

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

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

—Reaching Out

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

* * *

Dear Prudence,

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

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

—Acquiescing Aunt

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

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

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

More Dear Prudence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fresh and traditional Vietnamese food on the menu at Ben Tanh

Fresh and traditional Vietnamese food on the menu at Ben Tanh


Richmond and Twickenham Times

There was a time, not so long ago, when the British will have associated Asian food with battered meat and sticky neon-coloured sauce, but the…

YOUNG FINNS, CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR, AND FOODS

by Nhan Nguyen @ Vietnamese traditional food – UTU Masters

Christmas and New Year time seem to be the same to such an Asian guy like me mainly because… they just come when snow falls, making people really need to get together for warmth. But it is not the thing I as I thought! There...

The post YOUNG FINNS, CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR, AND FOODS appeared first on UTU Masters.

Due Date

Due Date

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

More Dear Prudence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friendly Ghost: Why is my pal blowing me off?

WEST END under new ownership

by admin @ Trang Vietnamese Restaurant – West End

From West End, I would like to invite you to come in and meet me, Maria. We welcome you to book online, order online and dine in our famous Hargrave Rd spot in West End. Warm up with a pho […]

The post WEST END under new ownership appeared first on Trang Vietnamese Restaurant - West End.

Italy in one week: The ultimate guide

Italy in one week: The ultimate guide

by Melissa Ariganello @ Intrepid Travel Blog

To help every traveler maximize their time in Italy, we’ve curated a 7-day itinerary filled with all the attractions, history, food and wine around.

The post Italy in one week: The ultimate guide appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

The Best Travel Gadgets and Accessories

The Best Travel Gadgets and Accessories

by Lori Keong @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

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

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

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

Pacsafe Anti-Theft RFID Wallet
$24, Amazon

“I always have tons of gadgets when I travel: the Kindle Paperwhite, the GoPro Hero 5, the Sony A7 Mirrorless Camera, the MacBook Air, multiple USB power banks (all of which are Anker, by the way, the best company for this stuff), etc. When couch surfing—or staying in guest houses, especially hostels—around the world, plugs are few and far between. There are also times when you may be on the move for a few days and won’t have time to sit and charge all of your things for 12-plus hours. This is where this wall charger comes in handy: All you need is one outlet that you can reach with the extended cord, and voilà, plug six devices in all at once.” —J.R. Harrison III

Anker 6-Port USB Wall Charger
$21, Amazon

“It’s funny-looking, and before they were more prolific, I always worried people would think I was wearing a neck brace, but it’s the most practical neck pillow I’ve tried thus far. And I can sleep through an entire 15-hour flight, so clearly it’s working for me.” —Sarah Khan, travel writer

Trtl Pillow
$30, Amazon

“I take quite a few red-eyes, and it’s not uncommon for me to head straight to meetings from the airport, so I always have a great eye mask on hand to ensure I can get a good night’s sleep. Slip makes a fantastic one that we also carry in our stores.” —Jen Rubio, co-founder of Away

Slip Silk Sleep Mask
$45, Amazon

“This cap can turn any Nalgene water bottle into a pressurized shower. Just screw on the lid, pump up to pressure, and depress the button. Mist yourself off on a hot day, rinse your dishes, or even wash your hair while camping. It’s pressurized water, wherever you go. We already ordered ours!” —Megan and Michael of travel blog Fresh Off the Grid

Lunatec Aquabot Sport Water Bottle
$30, Amazon

“Small and portable, this tripod can be set up instantly. It’s not intrusive to your fellow travelers, easy to use, and compact enough to slip into a suitcase or even a day pack. Add an adapter to safely sync this sturdy little tripod with your smartphone.” —Jen Martin, director of expedition development, expedition leader, Lindblad Expeditions

JOBY Gorillapod Flexible Tripod
$58, Amazon

“This plasma arc lighter is hands down the coolest way to light a fire. Using a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, it generates an electrical arc that is 100 percent windproof. It comes with an integrated flashlight and lantern, so you can offer somebody a ‘light’ in every sense of the word.” —Megan and Michael

Power Practical Sparkr
$60, Amazon

“Lightweight, compact, and easy to pack, this utensil set is great for camping trips or just having in the glove box of your car. Never use disposable plastic utensils again!” —Megan and Michael

To-Go Ware Bamboo Travel Utensils Set
$13, Amazon

“I like the Garmin eTrex—it’s rugged, waterproof, and small enough to hold in your hand or pocket. The latest updates have improved screens, resolution, graphics, and ease of use. Having a GPS can come in handy if you want to record where you’ve been or specific locations you’ve visited. (Did you propose on a trail hike? Want to geocache a message for future travelers?) We use them often to record good landing sites, hiking trails, and as an additional safety measure.” —Jen Martin

Garmin eTrex 30x Handheld Navigator
$182, Amazon

“I never really invested in quality headphones until now, and I’m so glad I did. Beats by Dre’s new Studio 3 headphones have advanced noise-canceling technology that can drown out everything. I take a lot of red-eyes, and have always found it nearly impossible to sleep with the constant buzz of the plane’s engine, so these headphones are game changers. They’re wireless, so I can connect them to my iPhone via Bluetooth or use the removable cord to plug them in when I want to watch a movie. They’re not cheap, but if you travel a lot, I think they’re worth it.” —Laura Itzkowitz, freelance travel writer and editor

Beats Studio 3 Wireless Headphones
$290, Amazon

“For a total gadgetry pick—more for fun than functionality—a range finder is high on my list. Tell your distance from a glacier face or know how far your ship is from shore or the nearest iceberg. It’s an interesting option—especially in cold climates, where the ‘white on white’ topography makes it impossible to tell distances. Small and portable, this is highly rated and comes from a company known for good optics.” —Jen Martin

Nikon Prostaff 7i Laser Range Finder
$285, Amazon

“These headphones block out all the noise in an airplane. The motors, but also crying children and snorting men. The sound is, of course, phenomenal—so perfect to watch a movie, listen to some music, or get into a meditation mode.” —Pauline Egge, travel blogger and creator of PetitePassport.com

Bose Quiet Comfort 35
$329, Amazon

“I always use the Pearl when I’m on a trip. It’s designed with the traveler in mind, so everything fits in it. That is, my camera, my phone, a charger, lipstick, my wallet, a small notebook, and a pen.” —Pauline Egge

Pearl Cross-Body Bag
$174, Lo & Sons

“I just got the carry-on suitcase by Away, which has a super-sleek design with a virtually indestructible shell, built-in USB charger, and clever internal compartments, including a waterproof laundry bag. Just make sure to remove the battery pack if you’re traveling through Asia! A friend got flagged at security because of it.” —Laura Itzkowitz

Carry-on Luggage
$225, Away

“I am absolutely in love with this backpack. It’s expensive, but I really couldn’t find a better option that’s both stylish and practical. If you are carrying anything nice as far as a laptop, gadgets, or a nice DSLR camera, these bags are the truth. It is padded in just about every area, provides easy side-pocket access, a padded slip for a laptop, a pouch for a tripod, and enough space for a Bluetooth speaker, hard drive, clothes, or whatever else you want. Extremely durable, sexy, stylish, comfortable, and practical.” —J.R. Harrison III

Yeti Backpack
$368, Zkin

“I took this suitcase with me to Asia, Europe, and the States. Everywhere I went, people reacted to the suitcase as if it were a Labrador pup. They wanted to touch it, use it, and basically wanted to take it with them immediately. The Bugaboo Boxer (yes, of the stroller company) is a suitcase you push instead of pull. It has four wheels you can easily fold and unfold. It makes traveling so much lighter. I’m a big fan.” —Pauline Egge

The Bugaboo Boxer Fully Loaded
$1,490, Bugaboo Boxer

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

Mi gusto: A guide to Barcelona’s La Boqueria

Mi gusto: A guide to Barcelona’s La Boqueria

by Julia D'Orazio @ Intrepid Travel Blog

If you want to observe the Spanish food chain, from the depths of the Mediterranean to the green farmlands of Galicia, there's only one place to go: La Boqueria.

The post Mi gusto: A guide to Barcelona’s La Boqueria appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Top 6 things to do in Hoi An

Top 6 things to do in Hoi An

by Emily Kratzmann @ Intrepid Travel Blog

With a free day, we wanted to see as much of Hoi An as we could: the old stuff, the food stuff, and the wheel-y good stuff too. Here are our six top picks.

The post Top 6 things to do in Hoi An appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Turkish delight: 6 delicious dishes to try in Turkey

Turkish delight: 6 delicious dishes to try in Turkey

by Chris Mitchell @ Intrepid Travel Blog

I learned many things living in Turkey for three years, but perhaps the most prominent was that Turkish food is seriously underrated.

The post Turkish delight: 6 delicious dishes to try in Turkey appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

The Best Bar Carts on Amazon

The Best Bar Carts on Amazon

by Lauren Levy @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

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

Best Cheap But Expensive-Looking Bar Cart With Stemware Rack

4.6 stars, 148 reviews
“Absolutely gorgeous! Elegant, minimalist style was the missing thing for my apartment. This is a cute, chic thing! Metal with black glass is so trendy. Fair price and excellent quality.”

Coaster Kitchen Carts Serving Cart With 2 Black Glass Shelves
$69, Amazon

Best Cheap But Expensive-Looking Bar Cart Without Stemware Rack

4.3 stars, 103 reviews
“This small bar cart is ideal for a small apartment. I assembled it without any help, but it would have gone faster with someone else on hand. Still, all the parts went together easily. I had no problem with screws and wheels, which were mentioned in other reviews. If you assemble it carefully, you should be happy with it, too.”

Chrome Metal Bar With Tempered Glass
$80, Amazon

Best Folding Bar Cart

4.5 stars, 445 reviews
“Neatly packaged and arrived on time. The product is already assembled and neatly folded as shown in the images. All you have to do is screw on the wheels on the legs, and it is ready to use. If you are looking for something that is easy to move around and blends in well with your dining room or kitchen, this is perfect and I recommend it.”

Folding Metal Rolling Serving Cart
$60, Amazon

Best Tiered Bar Cart

4.8 stars, 52 reviews
“I love this cart! We live in a smaller condo and it looks great in our living room, and it is great for entertaining guests and easy to decorate. Funny thing is, I put the top or the middle on wrong and ended up having the wine glasses hang on the wrong side, but I actually like it this way, and it freed up another shelf so … that was lucky. Anyway, if you want a quality-looking cart, pick this one. I chose to leave the wheels off, but there are wheels that come with it as well.”

Holly & Martin Zephs Bar Cart
$124, Amazon

Best Traditional Bar Cart

4.5 stars, 170 reviews
“I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on this. It’s small, but that’s why I like it. The color looks really red in the pictures, but it matches my expensive furniture perfectly. The only thing I don’t love is the gilded accents. I might take it apart someday and paint them. It’s not that big of a deal, though. It was a good piece for the price.”

Coaster Serving Cart
$49, Amazon

Best Bar Cart With Cabinets

4.5 stars, 181 reviews
“This bar cart is everything you could ask for. At first, my fiancé and I weren’t sure about how it would look, but after purchasing it, we couldn’t be happier. The cart looks amazing when stocked. Everything came very well-packaged, and assembly was not too bad … about an hour and a half total construction by myself. Just a heads-up, not all size wine glasses will fit in the rack, only smaller white-wine glasses. Also, the bottom rack of the wine-bottle holder is really only meant for larger bottles, as smaller ones will roll around between the wood dividers. But, if the cart is stationary, that won’t matter.”

Winsome Wood Entertainment Cart
$137, Amazon

Best Disguised Liquor Cabinet

4.3 stars, 210 reviews
“I was afraid the quality might be crap, but I was very pleased. It was well-packed and easy to assemble, and it looks beautiful in my living room and holds a ton of bottles and glasses. I absolutely love it!”

Sixteenth-Century Italian Replica Globe Bar Cart
$215, Amazon

Best Bar Cart for Your First Apartment

4.8 stars, 90 reviews
“Great, versatile storage unit! Manual doesn’t include any words, only images, but it’s easy to follow. Comes with everything you need to quickly install your storage unit, except the ‘plus sign’ screwdriver. Love it! I’m always changing what I store in here. I had originally bought this to store snacks, but then quickly changed my mind. And in the first bin, I store first-aid products; second bin stores beauty products; and the third bin stores some office supplies. May not be the most practical, but it can always change. Love the versatility of this storage unit!”

Raskog Home Kitchen Bedroom Storage Utility Cart
$42, Amazon

Best Bar Cart for a Tiny Apartment

4.4 stars, 75 reviews
“Well-made, solid, and sturdy. Exactly what I was looking for! Love it!”

Welland 3-Tier Wood Rolling Cart
$80, Amazon

Best Bar Table

4.5 stars, 289 reviews
“This was just what I was looking for. Great for my small apartment and holds a good amount of alcohol and glasses. Looks very stylish and wasn’t difficult to assemble.”

Coaster Home Furnishings Contemporary Bar Table
$160, Amazon

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

Why Osaka is the best city in Japan for foodies

Why Osaka is the best city in Japan for foodies

by Jen Welch @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Osaka's most famous dishes are okonomiyaki (cabbage pancake) and takoyaki (octopus balls), but the Japanese city has so much more to offer. Here's exactly where to go and what to eat.

The post Why Osaka is the best city in Japan for foodies appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

The top destinations for travel in December

The top destinations for travel in December

by Miranda Forstmanis @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Whether you’re in the mood for mulled wine and Christmas markets or in need of a beach escape in the tropics – these are the places you should be adding to your itinerary for December.

The post The top destinations for travel in December appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

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

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

by Alieza Durana @ Slate Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When in Rome: author Tessa Kiros shares her Italian food tips

When in Rome: author Tessa Kiros shares her Italian food tips

by James Shackell @ Intrepid Travel Blog

When cookbook author Tessa Kiros turned 18 she left home in South Africa to travel and learn more about the world.

The post When in Rome: author Tessa Kiros shares her Italian food tips appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

A Case in Mississippi Raises Questions About the Legal Security of Nontraditional Families

A Case in Mississippi Raises Questions About the Legal Security of Nontraditional Families

by John Culhane @ Slate Articles

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

Are our same-sex-parented families as legally secure today as we imagine them to be? Sadly, no. The 2015 marriage equality decision in Obergefell v. Hodges hasn’t stopped some courts and policymakers from trying to diminish the impact of that case, often by trying to fence the nonbiological parent off from any children the couple might have. The situation is sadder—and unforgiveable—when gay and lesbian former spouses try to exploit these outdated views against each other. A case currently before the Mississippi Supreme Court is the latest example of this damnable tactic, which diminishes every nontraditional family—straight and gay alike.

First, a little background: Before gay and lesbian couples could marry, their relationships to any children they raised were legally tenuous—especially for the nonbiological parent. Married couples were presumed to be the legal parents of any children born during the marriage, so same-sex couples faced a double whammy. First, without marriage, it was often difficult or impossible for the nonbio parent to gain parenting rights. That’s because, in many states, the nonbiological parent couldn’t adopt the couple’s child. Second, parent-child bonds were too often tragically sundered when the couple split up because many state courts held that the nonbio partner had no legal rights to the child. Although some courts developed theories, such as de facto parenting (which is just what it sounds like), to protect children’s interests by allowing the exiled ex some contact with the child, the law was wobbly and inconsistent.

Once marriage equality was achieved, it was reasonable to think that this terrible situation would quickly disappear. The law presumes that a child born during a marriage is the child of both the mother who gives birth and the person to whom she’s married. Many courts have decided that this presumption of paternity can easily be applied to a same-sex couple even if the pater is, in a lesbian couple, a mater. (It’s a bit more complicated, but the presumption can also work with a gay male couple.) Marriage equality should have taken care of both of the obstacles gay and lesbian couples have faced: singleness itself, and, as a consequence, the problems with adoption.

It hasn’t always worked that way, though, because courts and even bureaucrats in some states have resisted the implications of Obergefell. So, smart lawyers encourage the nonbiological parent even in married couples to adopt any children the couple might be raising—whether that child is adopted or conceived through assisted reproductive technologies. It’s also important to have the birth certificate reflect the names of the two married people who are going to be raising the child. Last year, the Supreme Court had to compel the Arkansas Department of Health to list both same-sex and married parents on their child’s birth certificate.

The latest challenge comes from Mississippi. At the end of November, the state Supreme Court heard arguments in Strickland v. Day, a case pitting two divorced women, Christian Strickland and Kimberly Day, against each other, with their child the worse for the dispute. The couple married in Massachusetts in 2009. In 2010, the couple decided to have a child, and it was decided that Day would be both the genetic and the gestational mother, and the father would be an anonymous sperm donor. Then, in 2011, Kimberly Day gave birth to a boy (known as “Z.S.” in the judicial proceedings). The women agreed that they were both to be full parents and acted that way from the beginning.

The couple split up in 2014, and at some point thereafter, Day moved to cut off Strickland’s access to their son. Strickland took her to court, where the trial judge tried to split the baby, as it were. He found that Strickland’s relationship with their son gave her a quasi-parental status (called in loco parentis), and therefore visitation rights—but no more. Day is the “real” parent, said the judge. Why? Because even though Z.S. was born during the marriage, he wasn’t of the marriage, since same-sex couples can’t conceive a child without a third party. The judge suggested that Strickland somehow find the anonymous sperm donor—the “natural father,” according to the judge—and have his rights terminated. (Even though the judge also noted that this mystery man “may never be known, and probably won’t be.”)

This “during the marriage”/“of the marriage” distinction isn’t a thing, though. If it were, then any kids born to married couples as the result of assisted reproductive technologies (whether sperm or egg donation, or possibly even in vitro fertilization) would be at risk of losing one of their parents. It’s not only gay- and lesbian-headed families that are made contingent by such inanity, which finds no support in the case law.

What will the Mississippi Supreme Court do? I wish I could write with certainty that the justices would simply overrule the lower court’s decision, allowing Strickland to enjoy full parental status in her relationship with Z.S. That’s probably what will happen, but two of the justices have gone on record with excoriating denouncements of the Obergefell decision. In 2015, the court upheld the issuance of a divorce decree to a lesbian couple over the strong objection of two of the justices who questioned the legitimacy of their marriage. Seizing on language from Chief Justice Roberts’ dissenting opinion in Obergefell, the Mississippi justices declared the decision “illegitimate” and therefore properly ignored it. This was predictable, because, as I wrote soon after the decision, the dissenting opinions “brim with the kind of intemperate language that seems calculated to foster disrespect for the rule of law.” So now Christina Strickland has to hope that these two radical justices don’t manage to cobble together a majority of four, using the marginally less crazy “during the marriage/of the marriage” contraption the trial judge made up.

Cases like this are a sharp reminder that our families are still less secure than traditional ones. That’s true for any family created through adoption or assisted-reproductive technologies—the judge’s decision in Strickland v. Day applies not only to same-sex couples but, in principle, to any couple needing outside assistance to create a family. It’s especially true for gay- and lesbian-headed families, though, because we’re also dealing with thick layers of discriminatory assumptions.

My family is as secure as it’s possible to be: We jointly adopted our children, and, though we couldn’t be married at the time, we are now. For a few reasons, there’s no realistic possibility that any third party could barge in and sunder our relationship to our daughters. For many thousands of queer families, though, the combination of biological preference and anti-LGBTQ prejudice means a family still under threat. Kimberly Day is now married to a man. Is that what triggered her attempt to exclude Christiana Strickland from her child’s life? Whatever the reason, it’s hard for our families to avoid worrying that some people still think our families are second-best placeholders until a traditional family appears. It’s up to courts and policymakers to underscore that our kids—and we—deserve better.

Inside the multicultural food scene of Washington D.C.

Inside the multicultural food scene of Washington D.C.

by Elle Hardy @ Intrepid Travel Blog

With a long history of immigration and a rich multicultural heritage, Washington D.C. is one of the unsung cuisine capitals of America.

The post Inside the multicultural food scene of Washington D.C. appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Meet the artisans who make Thailand’s alms bowls by hand

Meet the artisans who make Thailand’s alms bowls by hand

by Intrepid Travel @ Intrepid Travel Blog

There are still a few centres for crafts made by street-side vendors, using traditional methods and materials. This is one of the last.

The post Meet the artisans who make Thailand’s alms bowls by hand appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

3. Fresh Rice Paper Rolls with

by ADMIN_PHO68 @ Saigon68

The post 3. Fresh Rice Paper Rolls with appeared first on Saigon68.

Spending Christmas in Saigon, Vietnam

Spending Christmas in Saigon, Vietnam


Back of the Bike Tours

Do you wonder what you can do in Saigon around Christmas time? Back of the Bike Tours guides will tell you how to enjoy your holidays in Saigon!

Promotion 4

by admin_orn @ Home | The Orange Lantern Restaurant | Vietnamese Food & Cuisine

Set Lunch Promotion

@

$11.90 only!

View More

The post Promotion 4 appeared first on Home | The Orange Lantern Restaurant | Vietnamese Food & Cuisine.

Healthy Ways to do Christmas Lunch & Dinner | Insuranceline

Healthy Ways to do Christmas Lunch & Dinner | Insuranceline


InsuranceLine

Christmas lunches and dinners are a notoriously indulgent time. If you want to rein yourself in this year here are a few ways to help make those meals healthier.

Not an Act

Not an Act

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eating spiders in Cambodia. Gimmick or gourmet?

Eating spiders in Cambodia. Gimmick or gourmet?

by Phil Lees @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Unlike the humble cricket, spiders aren't a common snack anywhere but have become associated with Cambodian (Khmer) food because of their media value. So, should you eat them?

The post Eating spiders in Cambodia. Gimmick or gourmet? appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

9 things you’ll see on a bike ride through Yogyakarta

9 things you’ll see on a bike ride through Yogyakarta

by Louise Burton @ Intrepid Travel Blog

For all those wanting to explore Java on two wheels, here's one woman's bike ride through the rice fields and back streets of Yogyakarta.

The post 9 things you’ll see on a bike ride through Yogyakarta appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Food from the road: January’s photocomp results are in

Food from the road: January’s photocomp results are in

by Intrepid Travel @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Street food crawls in Lombok, fruit salad carving in Cartagena and slurping ramen in Japan – if it's beautiful and delicious, you'll find it below.

The post Food from the road: January’s photocomp results are in appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Navigating Singapore’s hawker markets

Navigating Singapore’s hawker markets

by Alyson Hill @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Hawker markets are iconic to Singapore for good reason. The food is good – and cheap – and showcases Singapore’s diversity of culture.

The post Navigating Singapore’s hawker markets appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

The Best Gifts You Can Have Delivered Same-Day With Amazon Prime Now

The Best Gifts You Can Have Delivered Same-Day With Amazon Prime Now

by Maxine Builder @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

We’re less than two days away from Christmas, and if you haven’t started shopping for holiday gifts, you really are cutting it close. This is when you start looking at Amazon Prime Now, the retailer’s same-day delivery service, to see if there are any gifts you can have dropped off on your doorstep within hours of ordering it.

There are some caveats here. Amazon Prime Now delivery is only available in American cities—and in New York City, just Manhattan and Brooklyn. Plus, not all items are available in all cities or even zip codes. (We used the zip code for the New York office—10013—to determine prices and availability of these gifts.) But if you do live or work in a place that’s eligible for the service, here are some of the best gifts you can have delivered today, including some that are hard to find elsewhere, leaving you plenty of time to wrap them up and put them under the tree before Christmas Eve.

Yes, you can get an Instant Pot delivered to your home in under 24 hours.

Instant Pot DUO80 8-Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker
$130, Amazon

This retro video game console comes preloaded with 21 games.

Super NES Classic
$80, Amazon

Or, if you prefer a more analog holiday season, here’s a classic card game.

Uno Card Game
$5, Amazon

This Fitbit can track your steps and also notifies you when you get a text.

Fitbit Alta Fitness Tracker, Silver/Black, Small (U.S. Version)
$129, Amazon

A basic cast-iron skillet is the best gift for a home cook who’s still learning their way around a kitchen.

Lodge L8SK3 10-1/4-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet
$15, Amazon

Of course you can get an Amazon Echo on Amazon Prime Now and have it delivered within hours of ordering.

Echo Dot (2nd Generation) — Black
$30, Amazon

The best gift for the home cook who has everything.

Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker Bluetooth, Immersion Circulator, 800 Watts, Black
$100, Amazon

Straight from an 8-year-old boy’s wish list.

Nerf N-Strike Elite Strongarm Blaster
$14, Amazon

This hand blender might not be as powerful as a Vitamix, but it’s just as versatile (and takes up less cabinet space).

KitchenAid KHB2351CU 3-Speed Hand Blender — Contour Silver
$53, Amazon

A cheap, but relaxing, stocking stuffer.

Whole Foods Market, Lavender Vanilla Fizzing Bath Bomb, 2.3 oz
$3, Amazon

The best gift for a gym rat or the wellness-obsessed is this pair of workout-friendly headphones.

Bose SoundSport Wireless Headphones, Black
$129, Amazon

Spend Christmas trading sheep for ore and building roads.

Catan 5th Edition
$43, Amazon

If you’re planning on gifting bottles of wine, at least get some gift bags so that it looks like you put in some effort.

Hallmark Bottle Gift Bag with Tissue Paper (Dots and Dashes)
$6, Amazon

This Zojirushi water bottle is a perennial Strategist favorite, because it keeps cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot.

Zojirushi SM-KHE48BA Stainless Steel Mug
$27, Amazon

For the vegetarian cook who’s still using their hand-me-down copy of the original Moosewood Restaurant cookbook from the 1970s.

The Moosewood Restaurant Table: 250 Brand-New Recipes From the Natural Foods Restaurant That Revolutionized Eating in America
$24, Amazon

This Bluetooth speaker is fairly compact, but it doesn’t sacrifice sound quality.

Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Super Portable Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker, Phantom Black
$75, Amazon

This mask from culty brand Mario Badescu will both clean pores and tighten skin—and makes a great stocking stuffer.

Mario Badescu Super Collagen Mask
$18, Amazon

These adorable bear mitts are a fun gift for a home cook with a sense of humor.

Fred Bear Hands Oven Mitts, Set of 2
$14, Amazon

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

A guide to traditional Chinese street food

A guide to traditional Chinese street food

by Amy Foyster @ Intrepid Travel Blog

One of the most popular forms of traditional Chinese food, everywhere from Shanghai to Beijing, is street food. Here are some of the best street food options that the land of the red dragon is serving up.

The post A guide to traditional Chinese street food appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

6 hot springs in Iceland much better than the Blue Lagoon

6 hot springs in Iceland much better than the Blue Lagoon

by James Taylor @ Intrepid Travel Blog

When you think of hot springs in Iceland, you think the Blue Lagoon. Unfortunately, so does everybody else.  If you want to avoid the huge crowds and hefty price tag,…

The post 6 hot springs in Iceland much better than the Blue Lagoon appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Foodie? Here’s why you should travel to Thailand

Foodie? Here’s why you should travel to Thailand

by Katie Lockhart @ Intrepid Travel Blog

As an American venturing to the Far East, I figured I’d have some good pad thai and maybe a nice tom yum but I had no idea of the variety of flavors that I was in for.

The post Foodie? Here’s why you should travel to Thailand appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Colonia del Sacramento: The underrated foodie capital of South America

Colonia del Sacramento: The underrated foodie capital of South America

by Elise Duncan @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Colonia del Sacramento is one of the oldest towns in Uruguay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a heaven for foodies.

The post Colonia del Sacramento: The underrated foodie capital of South America appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

The best thing about travel (and why you can’t control it)

The best thing about travel (and why you can’t control it)

by Amanda Linardon @ Intrepid Travel Blog

It's not the food. It's not the sunsets. It's not the freedom. So what is it?

The post The best thing about travel (and why you can’t control it) appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Visiting Greece? Here’s what you need to eat

Visiting Greece? Here’s what you need to eat

by Gwen OToole @ Intrepid Travel Blog

From hearty street food to fresh fine dining and even sampling some of the freshest fine produce, here’s just a small taste of what to eat in Greece.

The post Visiting Greece? Here’s what you need to eat appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

How the Places We Live Can Shape Our Queer Identities

How the Places We Live Can Shape Our Queer Identities

by Japonica Brown-Saracino @ Slate Articles

Adapted from How Places Make Us: Novel LBQ Identities in Four Small Cities by Japonica Brown-Saracino, out now from the University of Chicago Press.

When Sam—a petite, tattooed woman in her early thirties with a degree from an Ivy League university—decided to move from Boston, to Portland, Maine, for graduate school, she knew her new daily life would be significantly different than the bustle of her twenty-something world in Boston; but what she didn’t anticipate was how her very sense of self would change. On moving, she found that the cities share a number of traits: a cityscape marked by antique homes and proximity to water, and pockets of both gentrification and poverty. However, something unexpected occurred after her move. After years of thinking of herself as lesbian, as a woman who loved other women but who did not devote much thought to what kind of a lesbian she might be, she came to think about and speak of herself as “stone butch.” Not only did the way she thought about herself change, but her ties—and the basis on which she forged them—changed, too. She cofounded an online and off-line meet-up group for butch individuals, which, via bowling nights, dance parties, and conversation over coffee, celebrated the diverse forms butch identity can take—spanning the gamut from the “tea-drinking-fairy-butch” to the “preggers butch” to the “survivor butch”—and immersed herself in a network of individuals committed to polyamory.

Sam could not put her finger on the source of her personal transformation, but she was certain that it had occurred. She also noted that those around her in Portland approached identity and difference in a manner distinct from that which she had found in other small, Northeastern cities. In Portland, like Sam many celebrated very specific lesbian, bisexual, and/or queer (LBQ) identities, like stone butch, high femme, or queer punk. Sitting on the back patio of her rental in Portland’s Munjoy Hill neighborhood she said, “[In Boston] there’s like a different kind of queer . . . I couldn’t really escape being around, like, student groups and there’s always kind of like an ‘outy’ feeling . . . that feels different than, like, queer here.” In Portland, she said, “there’s more opportunity for people to feel welcome even if they have sort of a particularized identity.”

I met Sam when I was collecting the stories and charting the experiences of LBQ residents of four small, politically progressive U.S. cities: Ithaca, N.Y., San Luis Obispo, Cali., Portland, Maine, and Greenfield, Mass. Like Sam, most of the 170 individuals I interviewed and many of the others whom I observed while collecting field notes are highly educated, white, and mobile individuals, who moved to these cities sometime in the decade before I met them. Moreover, like Sam, nearly all have found that in these new places, they felt a shift both in how they relate to those around them (gay and straight alike) and in how they understood themselves and the group to which they belonged.

Taken alone, Sam’s personal transformation is not particularly surprising. Indeed, the notion that identities change on moving will surprise few. We have long associated relocation with reinvention of the self: for example, the pioneer who started anew in California in the 1850s or the immigrant who traversed an ocean to find new economic possibilities in nineteenth-century New York City.

However, at heart my findings challenge an assumption most of us share about such transformations: that transformation is either an individual process (the wanted man from Connecticut who reinvents himself as a law-abiding citizen in San Francisco or the frantic executive who takes up yoga and meditation and becomes a calmer, more “centered” person) or that it is universal (the seemingly standard process of assimilation for all nineteenth-century European immigrants).

Considering Sam’s personal transformation alongside that of many other LBQ individuals rules out individual-level explanations for her transformation, such as life stage, or personality, as well as broad scale or more universal explanations, such as far-reaching changes across American identity politics. It also challenges an even more fundamental assumption: the belief that, beyond the basic groups we belong to based on our race, class, and sex, we, as individuals, are the ones who change who we are and the group to whom we belong. Even though we know that each of us is growing and changing all the time, most of us hold onto the notion of an essential self—a core identity that is who we really are, regardless of where we live, what job we have, or where we go to school. My research troubles this assumption by revealing how places make us.

Why is this the case? As I discovered, Sam’s transformation was city specific. That is, if she had moved to a different city—even another very similar city—the way she thinks about herself as a sexual minority, and the way she relates to both other LBQ individuals and her heterosexual neighbors, would be different. Despite the fact that the four cities I studied share many traits, and that the people I spoke with and whom I observed who moved to these places are themselves quite similar, on moving without meaning to and without even fully recognizing that they are doing so, LBQ migrants craft a sense of self that corresponds with their new home. That is, their new cities call out new ways of relating to those around them and therefore new ways of thinking about their sexual identity and difference and, ultimately, a different sense of who one is. As a result, there is, in Sam’s words, a “different kind of queer” in each of the four similar cities I studied.

Consider that shortly after Sam left Boston for Portland, another woman—Lisa—left Northampton for Ithaca, N.Y. While in Northampton, Lisa thought of herself as lesbian and occasionally described herself to friends as “butch.” Once in Ithaca, Lisa found that she rarely considered herself “lesbian” or “butch,” although she suspects that throughout her adult life most have read her as a “big old dyke.” While she remains with her female partner, in Ithaca the story she tells herself about who she is has shifted. She increasingly thinks of herself as carpenter and gardener. Just as Sam wonders how she became resolutely “stone butch” and enmeshed in a world of butch-femme polyamory, Lisa wonders when “lesbian” stopped being the defining facet of her self and how she came to spend evenings beside heterosexual men in a working-class bar. In fact, Lisa wasn’t very happy with her personal transformation; she did not feel entirely at home in the person she had become in Ithaca, and yet, despite this discomfort, in her new context she found that she couldn’t be any other version of herself.

The personal transformation of these two women, taken together with the many other individuals I interviewed, affirm Sam’s notion that what it is to be lesbian, or bisexual, or queer, varies from city to city. Indeed, there is what I call a sexual identity culture that is distinct in each city; in other words, sexual identity and even our basic notions of difference are shaped by the city in which we live. Despite the fact that the LBQ residents I encountered across the cities share many demographic and cultural traits, their approaches to sexual identity politics and to ties with other LBQ individuals and heterosexual residents vary markedly by city. Specifically, by suggesting that their sexual identity cultures vary by city, I mean that the way they talk about or describe themselves varies by city, as do their coming out practices and even whether they prioritize being “out” and “proud,” the degree to which they seek to build ties with heterosexuals, and their attitudes about contemporary LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex) politics and issues, such as marriage equality and transgender rights.

It would be impossible to overemphasize the degree to which informants’ sexual identities and ways of relating to their neighbors vary by city. In Ithaca, which is home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, most, like Lisa, think of themselves as being “post-identity politics,” downplaying the centrality of sexual identity to their self-understandings and celebrating ties predicated on shared politics, beliefs, and practices, rather than on sexual identity. In San Luis Obispo, on California’s Central Coast, most identity as “lesbian” and surround themselves with others who share that same identity. In Portland, Maine’s most populous city, many, like Sam, emphasize the import of sexual identity for their self-understandings, celebrating hyphenated sexual identities, such as “stone butch” and “queer-punk.” Finally, in Greenfield, a former-factory town located in the verdant northwestern corner of Massachusetts, longstanding residents identify as “lesbian feminists” and cultivate lesbian-only networks centered in neighboring Northampton, otherwise known as “Lesbianville, USA”. However, in contrast to the other cities where sexual identity cultures span migration waves, newcomers to Greenfield think of themselves differently. Much like those in Ithaca, new residents emphasize facets of the self other than sexual identity, like being members of the local co-op and taking classes at the YMCA.

As I spoke with people in city after city, I found myself returning to the same question: Why are they not more aware of how they are shaped by the place they live? I now realize that this question is applicable to every one of us: I think that, more often than not, we are all largely unaware of the ways place shapes identity. That lack of awareness, as we’ll see, makes sense: It is obvious to all of us that New York is different from Los Angeles—that nearly every city has some kind of distinct identity. But we tend to think of those distinctions between one place and the next as the result of categorical differences. Mapping how cities shape identities not only solves the puzzle of why those I studied describe and understand themselves in such different ways, but also advances a new, more sensitive and specific approach to place; an approach that calls all of us to seriously consider the influence of even subtle differences in city ecology on self and group.

It is surprising that LBQ residents are largely unaware of the place-specificity of their identity. Except for a few exceptions, my informants all told me that the notion of identity as place specific did not occur to them until after they moved to their current place of residence and, in the context of an interview, had the opportunity to reflect on their moves and how they have changed over time. Many describe this as an after-the-fact discovery, and no one I spoke with described it as having driven their decision to move. Indeed, many are quite surprised, and some are even disappointed, by the identity cultures they uncover in their new place of residence.

Why might this be true? Why do some have a vague sense of the place specificity of identity but do not pair this with serious inquiry into place-specific identities before relocating? After all, most of us weigh numerous factors before moving somewhere, from the price of housing to the quality of schools. Doesn’t it stand to reason that we would also inquire about something as essential as identity? Apparently, no. I see a few reasons that explain this seeming oddity.

First, despite some cognizance of the place specificity of identities, for the most part LBQ individuals, like most of us, assume that variations in identity comes from elsewhere: from demographic, regional, or other categorical differences, such as whether a city is rich or poor, big or small. Thus, if you are moving from Boulder, Colo. to Portland, it is easy to assume that the lesbian community you find there will be similar. This assumption obscures the possibility that identity will feel different even if you move to a similar city that possesses a demographically similar LBQ population. If we attribute identity variation to categorical differences, there is little reason to expect identities to take novel shape in Portland, compared with what happens in Ithaca, for instance.

Second, few propose that they adopt entirely new identities in each place. Few shift from “straight” to “lesbian”; instead, on moving and without intending to do so one might transition from thinking of oneself as “lesbian” to framing oneself as “butch-lesbian” or “post-lesbian.” That is, we rarely become entirely new people on moving, but, instead, we “do” and feel who we are—lesbian or bisexual or butch—in markedly new ways in a new city.

Together, the fact that cities typically call out new arrangements or frames for the self, rather than wholesale reinvention, and that we tend to turn to categorical explanations for place-based identity differences (turning, for instance, to whether a place is urban or rural, rich or poor), help to account for underdeveloped awareness of how places shape identities.

Regardless of their source, at its core, these accounts of the unexpected emergence of place-specific identities tell a story of personal malleability. At first glance, the concept itself is not surprising. After all, we live in a cultural moment that emphasizes self-improvement, calls for relentless actualization, and lauds the intentional crafting of the self. But the story residents inadvertently shared with me is not about self-evolution as we usually think about it. On the contrary, the LBQ residents I spoke with told me again and again of transformation that is involuntary. This is a story not of the practiced shaping of the self or of the body as performance, but about our exquisite, though often ignored, sensitivity to our environment; it is a story about the unintentional and unplanned remolding of the self in relation to one’s surroundings.

To preserve anonymity and maintain confidentiality names have been changed, and in some instances identifying characteristics are masked.

Reprinted with permission from How Places Make Us: Novel LBQ Identities in Four Small Cities by Japonica Brown-Saracino, published by the University of Chicago Press. © 2017 by the University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

Raw adventure: a first hand account of Tokyo’s Tsukiji tuna auction

Raw adventure: a first hand account of Tokyo’s Tsukiji tuna auction

by James Shackell @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Welcome to Tokyo's tuna auctions, the seafood equivalent of the wait for the new iPhone.

The post Raw adventure: a first hand account of Tokyo’s Tsukiji tuna auction appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

The Best Exercise Bikes

The Best Exercise Bikes

by Maxine Builder @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

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

Best Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike, Overall

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

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

Best Indoor Cycling Exercise Bike Less Than $150

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

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

Best Upright Exercise Bike

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

Nautilus U616 Upright Bike
$349, Amazon

Best Folding Upright Exercise Bike, Overall

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

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

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

Exerpeutic Folding Magnetic Upright Bike With Pulse
$130, Amazon

Best Folding Upright Exercise Bike With 400-Pound Weight Capacity

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

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

Best Folding Upright Exercise Bike Less Than $100

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

ProGear Foldable Magnetic Upright Bike
$85, Amazon

Best Upright Exercise Bike With Fan-Resistance

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

Schwinn AD6 Airdyne Exercise Bike
$500, Amazon

Best Recumbent Exercise Bike

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

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

Best Folding Recumbent Exercise Bike

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

Exerpeutic 400XL Folding Recumbent Bike
$97, Amazon

Best Upright Exercise Bike With Desk

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

FitDesk Desk Exercise Bike With Message Bar
$265, Amazon

Best Recumbent Exercise Bike With Desk

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

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

Best Under-Desk Exercise Bike, Overall

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

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

Best Under-Desk Exercise Bike Less Than $100

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

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

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

The Best Gifts for Gamers

The Best Gifts for Gamers

by Liz Stinson @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening (is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?), but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that college student, or serious home cook, or Star Wars fanatic in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or, at least, a very helpful starting point. For our latest installment, we found 10 gamers to tell us what they want for the holidays, from wireless earbuds to vintage-ish Tamagotchis.

“I had a chance to play around with the new, super-tiny rereleased Tamagotchi virtual pets at New York Comic Con, and its simple charm gave me a lot of nostalgia of owning one of those devices back in middle school. I think I still have an Angel Tamagotchi lying around in my apartment, but the brightly-colored mini ones have a lot of retro style.” —Amanda Cosmos, QA lead at Dots

20th Anniversary Tamagotchi Device
$12, Amazon

“The Mario Odyssey Switch is a perfect gift for nostalgia’s sake alone. We peaked early, when Super Mario 64 was at the top of everyone’s holiday wish lists, and Mario’s return brings us right back to fighting with our siblings over who got to jump into the castle paintings next (not to mention that the Switch is still cool, and we should get our own instead of demanding to borrow our one very annoyed friend’s own every week).” —Emily Sheehan and Claire Manganiello, creative team at Mother New York

Super Mario Odyssey – Nintendo Switch
$55, Amazon

“Unlike the Apple AirPods, most people won’t notice you’re wearing Rowkin earbuds at all, and you’ll no longer accidentally rip your headphones out of your ears every single morning while frantically scrambling around for your MetroCard. They may be the earbuds that make a functioning adult out of you.” —Sheehan and Manganiello

Rowkin Bit Stereo: True Wireless Earbuds
$90, Amazon

“When I started playing this game, I thought I had it figured out after the first 15 minutes. I was completely wrong. The game took a completely unexpected turn early on, and from there on out, it continued to surprise and delight. Seemingly effortlessly, Edith Finch deals with some very powerful themes, driving them with an incredible marriage of story, dialogue, imagery, and kinetics. The game reminded me that perhaps we can form the shape of our future out of more than just the contours of our past.” —Ryan Cash, co-founder of Snowman and co-creator of Alto’s Adventure

What Remains of Edith Finch – Xbox One
$20, Amazon

“In a subtle but powerful way, I’ve actually found that Apple’s AirPods have changed the way I experience mobile gaming. In the past, I’d very rarely play games with headphones. As an audiophile, I’d only take them out under the perfect circumstances: if I was sitting at home, free of distractions, with dedicated time to spare. Cut to owning AirPods. Sure, they’re ultimately just wireless headphones. But it’s little flourishes like the case acting as a charger, the effort spent to reduce syncing speed, and automatic pausing as you remove them from your ear that make using them not just easy, but joyful. That consideration for making the mundane magical has led me to use headphones more often each day — listening to more podcasts, more music, and best of all, experiencing games with the quality of sound their developers intended.” —Cash

Apple Airpods
$172, Amazon

“This mid-priced, top-rated GPS unit is easy to use, lightweight, and is perfect for all outdoor geocaching (and archaeological!) action. It comes preloaded with topographic data, so you know your exact elevation.” —Sarah Parcak, TED Prize winner and creator of GlobalXplorer

Garmin GPSMAP 64st, TOPO U.S. 100K With High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver
$247, Amazon

“Connectivity is a constant at this point, but we all feel guilt around screen time. Toymail is a means by which adults can communicate with kids and have shared connectivity time. And the stuffed animals are really cute.” —Matt Harrigan, co-founder and managing director, Grand Central Tech

Talkie by Toymail: Hank a Dino
$40, Amazon

“I love horror games, and this one’s art and gameplay seem particularly interesting. It just came out this year, too.” —Laura Gatti, technical artist at Dots

Little Nightmares – PlayStation 4 Complete Edition
$34, Amazon

“It’s the perfect device for playing games on the go. Not only does it easily dock to your television, there are lots of great new games on it, such as Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. For those who are looking for something really versatile and social, it’s a perfect device.” —Jamin Warren, founder and CEO of Kill Screen

Nintendo Switch – Gray Joy-Con
$299, Amazon

“I’ve been surprised at how quickly mobile VR has advanced over the last couple years, and the Google Daydream View is a great upgrade if you’re an Android user looking to make the jump to one of Google’s new phones. It’s only $99, and unlike the more traditional black plastic design, a soft fabric cover might be a better fit for your personal style.” —Warren

Google Daydream View – VR Headset (Slate)
$86, Amazon

“We have a couple Sonos speakers at the office and we love them. The new Alexa integration for Sonos is a nice touch, but specifically, you can play some old-time adventure games from the early days of the PC, such as Zork. There’s a big opportunity to play games with voice commands, so I hope to see more in the future.” —Warren

Sonos Play:1 Compact Wireless Speaker for Streaming Music
$149, Amazon

“I’m also always on the lookout for gadgets and accessories that allow me to capture moments with my friends and family in new and fun ways. For all the holiday parties this season, I’ve got my eye on the Prynt Pocket, a portable photo printer that allows you to instantly print pictures from Facebook, Instagram, and your phone. I also love that there’s an option to add video inside your photo, taking the photo experience to a whole new level.” —Michelle David, lead designer at Zynga for Words With Friends

Prynt Pocket Instant Photo Printer for iPhone
$150, Amazon

“There’s a chance you may have to head to eBay for this one, as it’s been sold out at most retail and online locations. It’s a miniature Super Nintendo with 21 classic games already installed and ready to play … and yes, it does have the original Mario Kart.” —Justine Ezarik, iJustine

Super Nintendo Entertainment System SNES Classic Edition
$114, Amazon

“The newest iPhones (and most Android phones) have wireless charging capabilities. This is the one that I have been using since I got my new iPhone, and I absolutely love it.” —Ezarik

Mophie Wireless Charging Base
$60, Amazon

“The Spark is my favorite tiny, portable drone. It’s perfect for anyone who has never had a drone before. It can take off and land from the palm of your hand, and you can even fly it right from your iPhone without a controller.” —Ezarik

SSE DJI Spark Portable Mini Drone Quadcopter Starters Bundle (Alpine White)
$399, Amazon

“One of the coolest games out there is NHL 18. I love wearing my Vesey Rangers jersey, and the graphics are the sickest. Skating is so cool.” —Cassidy Berger, fourth-grade student

NHL 18 – PlayStation 4
$50, Amazon

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

My Immigrant Family’s Obsession with Paul Bocuse’s Soup with Truffles Recipe

by Andrea Nguyen @ Viet World Kitchen

“If you want to impress jaded Vietnamese guests, make French food,” my mom frequently told me while I was growing up. That’s among the reasons she made puff pastry when we came to the United States. It was as if she had been waiting all her life to knead excess moisture out of butter to...

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Making Mooncake – Mid Autumn Festival 2017

by nguyentuandat @

Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Festival (Tết Trung Thu), also known by other names as Festival of family reunion  (Tết Đoàn Viên) or Children Festival (Tết Thiếu Nhi). This year, Hanoi Free Tours By Foot has organized the special event to make and sell Moon Cake – a traditional cake which is only made ...

The post Making Mooncake – Mid Autumn Festival 2017 appeared first on .

So hot right now: our 6 new favourite food destinations

So hot right now: our 6 new favourite food destinations

by Dean Harries @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Food can take you places, according to science. And we agree.

The post So hot right now: our 6 new favourite food destinations appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Italian gem: 12 photos that will inspire you to visit Sicily

Italian gem: 12 photos that will inspire you to visit Sicily

by Rebecca Shapiro @ Intrepid Travel Blog

The fact it's the largest Mediterranean island is, quite honestly, reason enough to visit sun-soaked Sicily. But the rich history, dazzling landscapes and quintessential Italian food sure don't hurt either.

The post Italian gem: 12 photos that will inspire you to visit Sicily appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

5 of our favourite foods from around the world

5 of our favourite foods from around the world

by Amy Foyster @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Listen up, food lovers. If you’re anything like us, it’s likely your top priority when booking your next trip is largely based on what you’re going to eat.

The post 5 of our favourite foods from around the world appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

This is what it looks like to eat your way through China

This is what it looks like to eat your way through China

by Intrepid Travel @ Intrepid Travel Blog

If your experience of Chinese cuisine stops at a double order of fried rice and a side of sweet 'n' sour pork, you're not alone. Want to see what you're missing out on?

The post This is what it looks like to eat your way through China appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Kibbeh recipe: the best place to get İçli Köfte in Istanbul

Kibbeh recipe: the best place to get İçli Köfte in Istanbul

by Caglar Gokgun @ Intrepid Travel Blog

İçli Köfte, or kibbeh as it's called in Arabic, is a traditional Turkish snack. People who visit Turkey don't know it exists. People who leave Turkey never forget it.

The post Kibbeh recipe: the best place to get İçli Köfte in Istanbul appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Childless Burden

Childless Burden

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

What Noodle is it?

by admin @ Trang Vietnamese Restaurant – West End

Types of Asian Noodles  Ever wanted a decent explanation on Asian Noodles and which is which? Not sure what to pick? We compiled a list of the most known noodles used in Trang Restaurant’s – Asian cooking – and would like to share […]

The post What Noodle is it? appeared first on Trang Vietnamese Restaurant - West End.

The world’s best city rivalries: why travellers reap the benefits

The world’s best city rivalries: why travellers reap the benefits

by Dean Harries @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Whether it’s based on landmarks, music, fashion, food, sport, literature, location or landscape, city rivalries are, more often than not, progressive in their ideals.

The post The world’s best city rivalries: why travellers reap the benefits appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Northern Vietnam in one week: The ultimate guide

Northern Vietnam in one week: The ultimate guide

by Ellie Abraham @ Intrepid Travel Blog

From big cities brimming with foodie fun, to landscapes so surreal they will blow your mind, Northern Vietnam sure won't disappoint.

The post Northern Vietnam in one week: The ultimate guide appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

The Best Cookware Sets

The Best Cookware Sets

by Maxine Builder @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

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

Best Three-Piece Set of Nonstick Pans

4.3 stars, 1,675 reviews
“First of all, I cook constantly and really appreciate … having the different sizes for preparation. The smaller is great for omelettes and scrambled eggs. The other two are most helpful in food cooking without [using] any heavy nonstick products. The large pan is great for frittata recipes that I love to make because you can flip it without it falling apart [or] being stuck to the pan. Recommend it highly for anyone making dinner in a timely way, without the worry of sticking and burning. Great product!!”

T-fal B363S3 Specialty Nonstick Cookware Set, 3-Piece Gray
$21, Amazon

Best Five-Piece Cast-Iron Cookware Set

4.7 stars, 1,177 reviews
“I decided to try out cooking on cast iron a while back, and my mom sent me one of her old, well-seasoned ones. After reading up on how to take care of it, I was a little intimidated. Once I actually dove in and tried it, though, I loved it. I’m never going back to supposedly nonstick pans again. This Lodge set is a great deal if you’re wanting to get started with cast iron because you get several essential pieces for many uses. They come preseasoned, but I went ahead and reseasoned them anyway. It’s easy to do and gives a better start. These are more nonstick than my nonstick pans ever were, and they hold heat remarkably well. I even gave one of the skillets to my mom (in exchange for the one she had lent me previously).”

Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron 5 Piece Bundle
$115, Amazon

Best Seven-Piece Stainless-Steel Cookware Set

4.3 stars, 11,273 reviews
“This set is a great deal. They have a good weight to them, heat fast, and cook evenly. Whenever anyone sees them, they’re surprised at the quality of them—especially considering the price. Never having personally owned anything other than nonstick pans, this was a real upgrade for me. I felt like I was cooking in the commercial kitchen again. I love to cook, was a cook in college [and] during the recession, and cook at my friends and family’s houses a lot when I visit. Honestly, I know people who have heavier cookware that costs more than twice this much that doesn’t handle as well as this set … All that being said, if you already have owned stainless cookware, it may not be such an upgrade. Still, a great option for the person who loves to cook but isn’t up to spending hundreds of dollars on cookware yet.”

Cuisinart 77-7 Chef’s Classic Stainless 7-Piece Cookware Set
$68, Amazon

Best 10-Piece Stainless-Steel Cookware Set with Steamer Insert

4.6 stars, 1,091 reviews
“The best part of this set (in my opinion) is the vegetable steamer! It’s such an AMAZING little attachment. It fits into any of the pots and is to be used in conjunction with all of them. I can boil pasta, put the veggies in the steamer, overtop the pasta with a lid, and steam veggies while cooking pasta—I LOVE it! … All in all, we LOVE this set and are so glad we didn’t spend the money for the more expensive ‘name-brand’ sets we looked at. These are a great value and if taken care of will last a LONG time! Enjoy!”

Cooks Standard 10-Piece Multi-Ply Clad Cookware Set, Stainless Steel
$138, Amazon

Best 10-Piece Ceramic, Nonstick Cookware Set

4.1 stars, 2,297 reviews
“So far, love these pots and pans! I wanted something nonstick (not Teflon) that would match my kitchen and stand up to regular daily use. These fit the bill well so far. They are stylish to look at, lids fit well, generously sized, materials feel nice to the touch. Grip handles feel good in the hand. They are super efficient and conduct heat much more quickly than my previous pots and pans, so I do have to be mindful of adjusting cook time and temps until I get used to them. (We have a gas stove, so I can only imagine how efficient they would be on electric.) … This set cleans up easily and is just darn pretty to look at in the cabinet. VERY pleased!”

Cook N Home NC-00358 Nonstick Ceramic Coating 10-Piece Cookware Set, Green
$56, Amazon

Best 12-Piece Porcelain, Enamel, Nonstick Cookware Set

4.4 stars, 1,319 reviews
“I absolutely LOVE this cookware set!!! The color is so beautiful and looks so pretty in the kitchen. This set includes pretty much everything you need to cook with. I’ve made some nice soups with the stewpot, cooked lots of eggs and omelettes with the frying pan, and some nice stir-frys in the larger pan with the lid. Heating up sauce in the saucepan has been so easy and heats up so fast. I love the nonstick pans as [they make] cleanup time so much faster with a rinse in the sink and a quick wash. Unfortunately, my spatula broke this summer, but it did come in handy on the outside griddle for breakfast! I recommend this cooking set, as it’s been a year and I am still happily using mine!”

Rachael Ray Cucina Hard Porcelain Enamel Nonstick Cookware Set, 12-Piece, Agave Blue
$92, Amazon

Best 12-Piece Dishwasher-Safe, Nonstick Cookware Set

4.3 stars, 1,247 reviews
“My wife and I love to cook and are fairly rough on cookware. Our last set of pots and pans looked like they had barely made it out of the Battle of the Bulge. So we started looking for something that would be tough, look good, have nonstick surfaces, and last a long time … So far, with about a year on this cookware set, it is holding up excellently. No problems with the Teflon coatings and no problems with wear or tear. This set can also be used in the dishwasher, and so far, the finish on these items is still excellent. They are easy to use and easy to clean, and the set still looks brand-new. What more can we ask for? This cookware set easily beats other sets costing 10 or 20 times as much money. Highly recommend and five stars!”

T-fal C530SC Signature Nonstick Expert Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Dishwasher Safe Cookware Set, 12-Piece, Black
$63, Amazon

Best 12-Piece Stainless-Steel Cookware Set with Glass Lids

4.2 stars, 2,057 reviews
“I love this set. [The pots and pans] are solid and durable. While this set is inexpensive, it is not a cheap, thin set. They are very well-made and cook evenly on a gas-range stove. You can also bake in any of the pots and pans because they are metal all the way through. The only issue I have with the set is, the handles are metal and can get very hot … I keep pot holders and oven mitts on hand at all times. I would absolutely buy this set again and recommend it to others who want a good, solid set that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.”

Cook N Home 12-Piece Stainless Steel Cookware Set
$52, Amazon

Best 12-Piece Stainless-Steel Cookware Set with Stainless-Steel Lids

4.5 stars, 3,523 reviews
“I love these pans. Fantastic buy for the money! My favorite part is the MultiClad not only on the bottom of the pans, but on the sides. The pans heat so evenly, and that makes a difference in the food. It is a superior-quality stainless-steel pan set. Pans all weighted really good, the lids fit perfect[ly] … Food cooks wonderfully both on stove top and in the oven. They clean very easily—if food sticks a bit, or more than a sponge removes in a wipe, soak a bit in plain water then wash, super easy. I immediately ordered a set for my daughter and her family for Christmas.”

Cuisinart MCP-12N Multiclad Pro Stainless Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set
$197, Amazon

Best 15-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set

4.4 stars, 1,990 reviews
“This cookware set is really amazing, each piece heats evenly and they are so convenient to use and clean. They have even created fewer dishes in the sink because I am now able to cook more in one pot or pan when I used to have to use multiples at one time. I did not realize how much easier cooking could be with the right cookware. They are also very cute, bright colors and cool shapes to them. Beware of the ones without rubber handles; always use a pot holder as the heat conducts to the ceramic handholds.”

Vremi 15 Piece Nonstick Cookware Set - Multicolor
$46, Amazon

Best 17-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set

4.4 stars, 4,161 reviews
“I purchased this set after buying several sets of cheaper cookware over a few years. I’ve had this set for over a year, and I still love it! So worth the money! First off all, they feel heavy-duty without being too heavy! The coating is great, and even stands up to the few times my husband or son have used them, which says enough right there! My eggs cook like a dream! No sticking, even without adding oil! I love that I can stick them in the oven, makes it so much easier when I want to sprinkle a topping on a skillet dish and still cook it. These are so easy to clean! Just a sponge and hot, soapy water. No need for soaking!”

Cuisinart 66-17N Chef’s Classic Non-Stick Hard Anodized, 17-Piece Set, Black
$161, Amazon

Best 18-Piece Nonstick Cookware Set

4.1 stars, 1,899 reviews
“I loveeeee these pans! … The nonstick is no joke. I’m not the best chef out there, I haven’t burned anything on these pans yet, but seriously, nothing sticks on these pans. Everything slides off so easily — it makes for a simple happiness in life. I loathe washing pans because food gets stuck to them, and it takes muscle and willpower to scrub them off. With these, I just wait for the pans to cool, soak them in warm water (if tidbits of food [or] grease are really stuck), and just wash no problem, no ridiculous amount of effort exerted. With proper care, I can see these lasting a long while. So happy to have them! And they make learning how to cook more enjoyable.”

T-fal B165SI Initiatives Nonstick Inside and Out Dishwasher Safe 18-Piece Cookware Set, Red
$83, Amazon

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

A gluten-free guide to Europe

A gluten-free guide to Europe

by Che-Marie Trigg @ Intrepid Travel Blog

While Europe is known for its ancient cultures, colourful architecture and bloody history, it’s not yet known for something it’s now also very good at: dishing up gluten-free food that actually tastes good.

The post A gluten-free guide to Europe appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

The Best Gym Bags

The Best Gym Bags

by Trupti Rami @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

To help you with your New Year’s resolutions, we’ve already found the best winter running socks, workout gear, sports bras, and leggings—but what to pack everything in? Here, we grilled seven trainers, gym professionals, and plain-old exercise enthusiasts on the best gym bags.

For the Rush-Hour Commuter

“For me, simplicity is beauty. I like my Nike Brasilia duffel bag because it’s big enough to fit my running shoes and a clean pair of shorts, but small enough to carry on a crowded subway during rush hour. It’s got a hanging pocket on the inside to hold any valuables, it’s ventilated, and it fits in even the smallest of gym lockers.” —Charlie Dowe, media planner

Nike Brasilia Black Duffel
$45, Amazon

For the Throw-and-Goer

“I’m not even sure this tote is meant to be a gym bag, but lots of people who come into the studio are using it that way. It’s lightweight, it’s durable, and at the end of class I can throw my wet mop of a shirt in it with no concern. Occasionally I take it and give it a good rinse in the shower. It’s chic without being overstated, and it’s oh-so durable. I’m on the go all day and I wear my stuff hard, so for me it’s perfect.” —Taryn Toomey, founder of The Class by Taryn Toomey

MZ Wallace Small Metro Tote
$195, Saks Fifth Avenue

For the Comfort Seeker

“I have had a lot of gym bags during my recent time as a fitness instructor and my latest Puma bag is just awesome. It’s wide enough for me to carry all my workout gear (sneakers, water bottle, clothes, etc.), as well as one to two changes of clothing, which becomes especially useful when I’m teaching two or more classes a day and need to quickly change. The bag can also carry my laptop (13-inch MacBook Air) and charger cables comfortably. Day to day, I also appreciate that the strap doesn’t cut into my shoulder.” —Danny Cadet, fitness instructor at BollyX

Puma Transformation Duffel
$20, Amazon

For the Weekend Traveler

“I love the Lily Tote because it’s the most versatile bag I’ve ever owned. I travel quite a bit for work, and it allows me to carry my laptop, a change of clothes, toiletries, and my favorite book without bothering my shoulders. Plus, it also doubles as a waterproof backpack and messenger bag, so I can use it for a weekend trip without having to make any adjustments.” —Kat Ellis, head trainer at Uplift Studios

Lolë Lily Tote
$140, Amazon

For the Compartment User

“My bag has held up for like four years now and still looks pretty new. It’s kind of become my default bag. I take it to the gym, of course, and I even took it with me when I went on a trip to Jamaica recently. I put a whole bunch of clothes in it and used all three compartments—a big one that’s ventilated for sweaty items and two little side ones for a water bottle or anything else you’d want to throw in there.” —Peabo Bryson, assistant manager at Planet Fitness

Adidas Team Speed Medium Duffel
$40, Amazon

For the Cross-Trainer

“Like the triathletes I coach, when I head to the gym, it’s rarely for just one thing, so I need a bag that can handle gear for swimming, riding, running, lifting, yoga, or whatever combination I have planned for the day. The Blueseventy Transition Bag was originally designed for triathlon race day, but works nicely in the gym. The bag has all sorts of features—a big main compartment, a separate waterproof compartment for wet swim gear that can even hold a wetsuit, external pockets for water bottles, a top pocket for breakable items, a spot for a bike helmet (which comes in handy if I ride to the gym), and even a headphone jack. It works nicely for air travel too since it fits in an overhead compartment and has a padded laptop compartment.” —Jonathan Cane, founder and head coach of City Coach Multisport

Blueseventy Transition Bag
$90, Amazon

For the Heavy Sweater

“My favorite gym bag is the Champion zip bag that I have had for a few years. The reason this bag has stuck with me for so long is its size (not too big and not too small), as well as its fabric. The synthetic material repels moisture and does not trap odor.” —Maggie Byus, advertising manager

Champion Mindset Duffel
$39, Amazon

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

8 Croatian islands so beautiful that everyone should visit

8 Croatian islands so beautiful that everyone should visit

by Intrepid Travel @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Traditionally the Dalmatian coast always lost out to sun-soaked hot-spots like the French Riviera or the Greek islands, but not anymore.

The post 8 Croatian islands so beautiful that everyone should visit appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

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

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

by Brigid Schulte @ Slate Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A winter retreat to Takayama

A winter retreat to Takayama

by Nick Reid @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Our Shinkansen bullet train to Takayama rushes through the bellies of mountains, past snow-weary evergreens and rice fields resting under sheets of pure, white snow. Small alpine towns race by…

The post A winter retreat to Takayama appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

The Best Gifts and Gadgets for Nerds and Geeks

The Best Gifts and Gadgets for Nerds and Geeks

by Trupti Rami @ Slate Articles

This article originally appeared on the Strategist.

Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening—is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year?—but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that serious cook, or golf dad, or picky teen girl in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust—or, at least, a very helpful starting point. Today, nine self-proclaimed nerds (from a MacArthur genius to a comics historian) on the gifts they want for the holidays.

“Like everyone else, I always have too many tabs open in my browser, but I also have too many books open on my desk. One of these bamboo book stands would make my year. In fact, I think I need four (and a bigger desk).” —Mignon Fogarty, creator of Grammar Girl and founder of Quick and Dirty Tips

Readaeer BamBoo Reading Rest
$15, Amazon

“When it’s winter (and to be honest, when the air conditioner is blasting in the summer), I always wish my office chair could feel like my heated seat in my car. Also, I think I have my best ideas when I’m warm and relaxed (my colleague used children’s washable bath crayons to write on the shower wall for this reason). So a big holiday wish would be for a heated office chair like this one.” —Betsy Levy Paluck, 2017 MacArthur “genius” fellow

The Heated Lumbar Office Chair
$800, Hammacher Schlemmer

“I want this awesome Game of Thrones cutting board, because I’m trying to cook at home more, and winter is coming, obviously!” —Stephanie Durkacz, scientist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Game of Thrones Cutting Board
$25, Amazon

“In celebration of Jack Kirby’s centennial, the new edition of the Fourth World omnibus would be something amazing to have and display. The Fourth World omnibus is the largest single collection of Kirby’s Fourth World epic to ever be compiled together in one place. It’s all been published before, but broken up into volumes that are hard to track down and mostly out of print, so the chance to have it all in one giant tome is something I’d absolutely love to take advantage of. I’m a comics historian and journalist, so my interest in Kirby’s work runs deep, and the idea of getting to display it as a thousand-plus page hardcover is really exciting.” —Meg Downey, superhero fan who writes about superheroes and comics history at CBR.com and DCComics.com

Fourth World by Jack Kirby Omnibus
$100, Amazon

What If, from the creator of Xkcd Randall Munroe—a web comic geared toward physicists, computer scientists, and mathematicians—tries to answer ridiculous hypothetical questions with wit and accurate scientific information. I love this guy’s webcomics, and there’s nothing more nerdy than arguing over stupidly impossible hypothetical questions with real ire and intensity.” —Jeff Maltas, Ph.D. candidate in biophysics at the University of Michigan

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions
$7, Amazon

“Also Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones and an Audible subscription: I work a job where I spend many hours alone in a science lab with no windows. Audible is an amazing way to pass the time while getting work done, and the Bose QC 35 are a miracle: top-of-the-line noise-canceling, wireless headphones and amazing sound fidelity.” —Jeff Maltas

Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones
$349, Amazon

“Recordly is a University of Missouri–based startup offering transcription software for audio interviews conducted by researchers or journalists. At $2 per hour of recorded content, this is a gift I can actually afford to buy myself. Most human transcriptionists charge $25-plus per hour of work, meaning Recordly will help academics and reporters produce important work on tight deadlines and shoestring budgets”. —Chelsea Reynolds, Ph.D., assistant professor of communications at California State University, Fullerton

Recordly
$2 an hour, iTunes

“For the holidays, I really want dual computer monitors. I spend a lot of time reading articles and writing, and my laptop screen is too small to be practical!” —Jessica Powers, graduate student in the clinical psychology doctoral program at Syracuse University

ASUS Full HD 1920x1080 Monitor
$130, Amazon

“I am really excited about this retrospective release from Blonde Redhead. I loved listening to them when these albums came out, and I look forward to rediscovering them. This release is special because it is has four LPs and the digital files. I can listen to it on the record player or on the Sonos.” —Harper Reed, head of commerce at Braintree

Masculin Feminin
$39, Amazon

“I would love to get Savage Young Dü, which looks like a lavishly produced box set of rarities by Saint Paul, Minnesota’s fierce punk-rockers, Hüsker Dü. For a Midwesterner who grew up in the ’80s—and following the recent passing of drummer/co-songwriter Grant Hart—to hear that there are 47 previously unissued Hüsker songs and an alternate version of Land Speed Record is tantalizing.” —Mike Maggiore, programmer at Film Forum

Savage Young Dü
$36, Amazon


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

Speak Now

Speak Now

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

Discuss this column with Dear Prudence on her Facebook page!

More Dear Prudence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

V’Spirit Classic brings the art into your Halong Bay cruise.

by Thanh Tung @ V'Spirit Cruises

The word “V’Spirit” actually means “Vietnamese Spirit”, and our goal is to create a space for Vietnamese culture and to bring the quintessence of Vietnamese traditions to all passengers. In this regard, in every little details of V’Spirit, there is always a connection to an aspect of our rich and diverse culture. Bát Tràng porcelain […]

The post V’Spirit Classic brings the art into your Halong Bay cruise. appeared first on V'Spirit Cruises.

Wellness Travel in Madagascar. It’s now a thing

Wellness Travel in Madagascar. It’s now a thing

by James Shackell @ Intrepid Travel Blog

Madagascar is not a traditional wellness destination. In fact it’s not even a traditional travel destination. But all that's about to change...

The post Wellness Travel in Madagascar. It’s now a thing appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Baby’s First Sermon

Baby’s First Sermon

by Mallory Ortberg @ Slate Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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6 reasons why South Africa is a destination with something for everyone

6 reasons why South Africa is a destination with something for everyone

by Ellie Abraham @ Intrepid Travel Blog

If you thought it was simply your one stop shop for safari, it's time to think again. The water sports, wine tasting, history, hiking and incredible food are just some of South Africa's offerings.

The post 6 reasons why South Africa is a destination with something for everyone appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Adventure lover? Here’s why your next trip should be in Vietnam

Adventure lover? Here’s why your next trip should be in Vietnam

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I wasn't sure I was fit enough to do a trip like this. I wondered whether I would be missing out on the cultural aspects (cough, the sites and the food) of Vietnam...

The post Adventure lover? Here’s why your next trip should be in Vietnam appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.

Cooking Food With Love

by Suum Kitchen @ Suum Vietnamese Kitchen

Lorem ipsum dosectetur adipisicing elit, sed do.Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur Nulla fringilla purus at leo dignissim congue. Mauris elementum accumsan leo vel tempor. Sit amet cursus nisl aliquam. Aliquam et elit eu nunc rhoncus viverra quis at felis.

How Clueless Straight White Guys Excuse Religious Homophobia

How Clueless Straight White Guys Excuse Religious Homophobia

by Nathaniel Frank @ Slate Articles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why it’s clueless:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why it’s clueless:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why it’s clueless:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why it’s clueless:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why it’s clueless:

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

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

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

A final, neighborly note:

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

How to Best Prepare for Your First Silent Retreat

by Rosemary @ Authentic Food Quest

The post How to Best Prepare for Your First Silent Retreat appeared first on Authentic Food Quest.

A Radical Right to Happiness

A Radical Right to Happiness

by Amy Dru Stanley @ Slate Articles

This article supplements Reconstruction, a Slate Academy. To learn more and to enroll, visit Slate.com/Reconstruction.

Adapted from “Slave Emancipation and the Revolutionizing of Human Rights” by Amy Dru Stanley, originally published in The World the Civil War Made edited by Gregory P. Downs and Kate Masur. Published by the University of North Carolina Press.

Did the abolition of slavery create a right to go to the theater? The question arose in the long debate over the Civil Rights Act of 1875, a