💡 HelpMe, an AskMetaFilter Experiment 💡
July 2, 2024 5:32 AM   Subscribe

Welcome to HelpMe, another experiment from Rhaomi’s suggestions! Look under the fold for description of what's going on here!

It goes like this: Do you have a question that doesn't have or need a concrete solution? Then post it in this thread and perhaps someone will answer it!

Note that there will be multiple questions from different people within this thread, so if you’re responding to a particular question, use the @username trope, so that the asker can quickly do a find for answers pertinent to their question.

  • No selflinking spam.
  • Keep all the chatty questions with non-concrete solutions to this one thread.
  • The Content Policy and Guidelines are still in effect, so don't be a jerk. If you are, that may cause your question or comment to be removed.
  • Have fun!
If this goes well, we could have these threads every few weeks or once or month.
posted by Brandon Blatcher to Grab Bag (88 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Can you give me any examples of what would belong here but not a regular Ask?
posted by NotLost at 5:59 AM on July 2 [8 favorites]

Mod note: Can you give me any examples of what would belong here but not a regular Ask?

Chatty, open ended questions belong here and not in regular AskMe.

Why do we exist?
Why are men (or women) like X?
Is toilet paper dumb?
What's the one thing you hate doing as an adult?
Who was the worse coworker you ever worked with?
What did you really want to say at that wedding where the two people shouldn't get married?
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 6:13 AM on July 2 [5 favorites]

What are you adding to your Amazon wishlist in preparation for Prime Day? Me: I'm in the market for a new are rug for my living room, dining room chairs and table, christmas gifts for a 7 year old (almost 8 by Christmas), a toilet seat tightening kit, a retro rotary phone and a smoothie blender.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:17 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]

@Brandon Blatcher, toilet paper is dumb and bidets are pretty much the best.
posted by advicepig at 6:20 AM on July 2 [7 favorites]

@If only I had a penguin... A manual coffee grinder (thanks to help from AskMe).
posted by Dolley at 6:21 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]

@advicepig aw man, I just realized I had a guy come in and install the water service to my fridge I could have had him install a bidet toilet seat at the same time. I feel so dumb right now.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:21 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]

@penguin bidet seats are super easy to install, I just put a new one on 2 weeks ago. AMA
posted by phunniemee at 6:29 AM on July 2 [4 favorites]

@phuniemee but I"d have to run the little water piping over right? Like exactly the thing that guy apparently knows how to do. And also I'd somehow have to get it electricity, which I bet the appliance guy also knows how to do.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:31 AM on July 2

Are iRobot Roombas worth it? I see the one I want on Amazon for $299 and I *assume* that it might go on sale on the next Prime Day which is supposedly July 16. Last Prime Day it was $100 off so yeah I'll wait. We are apparently giant Pig Pens and I have to sweep or vacuum daily and I'm just over it. Hardwood floors, bamboo floors, and low pile wall to wall carpeting. No pets. Just two super messy adults.

@If only I had a penguin... Never thought of looking for Christmas presents, great idea. Gonna start making a list and checking it twice.
posted by the webmistress at 6:31 AM on July 2

So this is basically ChatFilter? Not sure if want.
posted by SPrintF at 6:31 AM on July 2 [14 favorites]

@penguin they have non electric bidets which are just fine, and the piping is just a bit of screw in hose. If you can use a sprinkler I promise you can manage a bidet install!
posted by phunniemee at 6:34 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]

@sprintf I've had the same problem but actually it's quite easy if you use the wheel in the middle of your mouse (or if you are on mobile, swipe with your finger) you actually can scroll past any thread
posted by phunniemee at 6:36 AM on July 2 [30 favorites]

@penguin I have the unheated Tushy bidet in Minnesota, so when the water is cold, it's COLD. But it's usually spraying with room temp water that was in the wall pipes, so it's fine. Install isn't hard and only takes a wrench and the included bits.
posted by advicepig at 6:46 AM on July 2

@thewebmistress Absoutely for us, although we have the added wrinkle of a large dog who hates the evil vacuum and wants to destroy it -- except for the Roomba which he seems to think of as a benign, well, robot. So if we're going to get the house vacuumed in the times we don't have the energy or time to get him in his crate, Roomba it is.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:55 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]

I think this is more like ChatMe. I'm fine with it but the name is confusing.
posted by HotToddy at 6:56 AM on July 2 [13 favorites]

@the webmistress: Roombas are worth it. However they are vacuums and so they cannot suck up big trash, so you still have to clean up the stuff that they can't handle so we don't use ours as much as we'd like. (We have two small children, so you might be better suited for it than me.)
posted by madcaptenor at 6:56 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]

Is there a name for this concept that I summarize as “things that get used, get used more”?

Example 1: A family of four has six dishes stacked in the cupboard. Every day for dinner they take the four dishes from the top of the stack, eat off them, wash them, and return them to the stack. The two dishes at the bottom of the stack are never used.

Example 2: I have two t-shirts. One is softer and more delightful to wear. So every time I have to choose a shirt, I choose the softer one. The softer shirt gets softer and softer and eventually shreds from overuse while the stiffer one stays stiff.

Example 3: I have two employees, Alice and Bob. Alice is slightly more efficient at filing TPS reports, so I always assign TPS report filing to her. At the end of the year, Alice is a bona fide TPS expert and Bob still doesn’t know how to do them well.

I imagine there must be some business philosophy or Japanese word or zen koan to describe something similar. But the thing that throws me is that there’s no real conclusion to draw, as each example has a radically different result—the used thing can be empowered, get destroyed, or remain the same. HelpMe!
posted by ejs at 7:11 AM on July 2 [11 favorites]

What does "cozy fantasy" mean to you, as a genre label?

Given that some of the well known cosy fantasy books like Legends and Lattes and its sequel have quite a lot of not-so-cosy content, like vivid descriptions of depression, and quite a bit of violence?
posted by Zumbador at 7:18 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]

Prime Day - I'm buying some $25 toys my kids really like (various 3 in 1 Lego sets for the school age kid, and a remote control Dinosaur Car for the toddler) to keep in a cupboard at home so I can stop scrambling to get their friends gifts before birthday parties!
posted by nouvelle-personne at 7:20 AM on July 2

@ifonlyihadapenguin - I use a bidet bottle, and have done for years. No plumbing required, and you can fill it with warm water! Woo-hoo!
posted by essexjan at 7:28 AM on July 2 [6 favorites]

What's one thing you've brought on a short camping trip with kids that has made it amazing?
posted by Night_owl at 7:34 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I think this is more like ChatMe. I'm fine with it but the name is confusing.

This is a good suggestion, thanks!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:38 AM on July 2 [6 favorites]

Question: I'm thinking of getting a kitty or two (yay)! I have some money to spend on this. What's the latest hotness with kitty accoutrements like litter boxes, food distribution, cat toys, etc? Is everything robots these days? Cat ownership can hardly be easier, but what makes it even easier for you? (Yes, I can go old school but part of the joy of pre-contemplation for me comes from researching all available options!)
posted by kinsey at 7:38 AM on July 2 [4 favorites]

Zumbador: I *heart* cozy fantasy. I think for me it means reading about characters that show care and concern for others (particularly those with differences), who try their best to be helpful and friendly, who are competent and loving, have generally positive attitudes, and who work together to achieve things that make them and other characters in their worlds joyful. (Wow, I've just described My Little Pony, I think.)

I'm on a re-listen of Goblin Emperor, and the parts I like best are the Emperor's internal observations about how to take what he's learned from the abuse and neglect he's experienced and ensure that his actions are not in response to that but more for the good of himself and his people. So, I guess to me cozy fantasy is full of characters who went to therapy (and you can tell)!
posted by kinsey at 7:44 AM on July 2 [9 favorites]

@kinsey: A family member of mine has the $1,000 Litter Robot litter box and they swear by it. A little out of my price range, but this $20 litter scoop with a built in roll of bags is the best I’ve used.
posted by ejs at 7:54 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]

@kinsey - Sureflap products are really cool and useful in certain situations. Microchip pet doors and feeders. Good if one cat eats the other cat's food, or one is on a diet and one is allowed to free feed. Also, lots of automatic feeders available, so portions show up automatically based on time of day - cuts down on begging. Also, a robot vacuum is something you might end up wanting if you get fluffy kitties!
posted by bluesky78987 at 7:55 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]

@ejs: Your problems sound to me like they might be amenable to graph theory analysis, but that is not my strength at all. I suppose the "weights" which are assigned to paths in the graph might be variable such that repeated use changes the weight for that path. However I could not find a good Google search hit for you. I then tried a different search keying on "ruts" and found this very technical article which deals with actual physical ruts in the real world (e.g., asphalt walkways or driveways). Sorry, that's all I've got for you.
posted by forthright at 8:00 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]

Okay, two weird ones from me:

How do I get people to consider me for parts in plays/musicals? I'm not going for leads as I know I am not Lead Quality in looks or anything else and lord knows I'm still working on my singing, but I'd love to get considered for bit parts, at least. Or like ONE LINE. Instead newbies who've never done theater before get lines and parts and I only do if they are really short staffed on people. I think I'm just "not the director's vision" (because I am nobody's vision, being old, weird, not anorexic, etc.) and I know the directors like me as a person, but ... shit, could I get one line?

Does anyone else have stories of praying to saints (example: St. Anthony) and getting good results?
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:00 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]

-- An inexpensive camera -- like a disposable (film) camera or there are new screen-free digital cameras that are specifically made for kids. To give kids the old-fashioned experience of shooting pictures without explicitly knowing what you're shooting. Let the kid be 100% in charge of what they shoot. Then you can develop or print the photos and put them in a small scrapbook as a memento of the trip.
-- Depending on if this is possible where you're going: prep for a star party. Educate yourself beforehand on what constellations you'll be likely to see, and look up the myth(s) behind those and be prepared to tell those stories as you guys lie down and gaze at the sky. Marshmallows & hot cocoa optional.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:05 AM on July 2

@kinsey i recommend going with a wood pulp based cat litter (e.g. OKOCAT) as opposed to clay/silica, processed plant husks, or absorbent beads. Clay litter has possible health concerts (silica dust inhalation), plant husks have absorbency issues, and the beads expensive and hard to dispose of. The wood pulp is much lighter than clay, absorbs well, is fully compostable, and the dust is a lot less hazardous to everyone.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:08 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]

What's the best way to sell a single thing? I have a middling value thing to offload - I'd like a small return on it. But I never do this and am unlikely to make it a habit. So I don't want to open a storefront and get new accounts for sellers/transactions.
posted by yamel at 8:14 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]

@yamel - If you're willing to use Facebook, I've used Marketplace successfully many times to sell things.
posted by cozenedindigo at 8:21 AM on July 2 [4 favorites]

This is Ask GPT, basically. "What are some things I can buy?" "What are some places where I can sell a thing?"
posted by emelenjr at 8:33 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]

@yamel, depending where in the world you are, Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree can be very useful for selling one off things.

Where I am (South Africa) there's a non zero chance that a prospective buyer will rob you, so if that is a concern, arrange not to be alone when meeting them.
posted by Zumbador at 8:33 AM on July 2

Is there a name for this concept that I summarize as “things that get used, get used more”?

This is not the same as, but is kinda like, a "Hawkes process", or alternately, a "self-exciting process".

Another way of looking at it is the Dirichlet-Multinomial Urn Model: Picture your shirts/workers/dishes as colored balls in an urn, such that at any moment you determine which shirt/worker/dish to use by drawing a ball and noting its color. So far, so random. But then, when you put the ball back into the urn, put yet another ball of the same color into the urn- making that same draw more likely in the future.
posted by a faded photo of their beloved at 8:52 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]

@jenfullmoon I like to say that St. Anthony regularly helps me out! I lose things pretty regularly but the big one was when I lost my wedding band. I thought it had come off while I was on a 10 mile bike ride so I spent a few days searching along the route. We found it 5 years later at the bottom of our compost pile when were were clearing it out before selling the house.
posted by brilliantine at 8:56 AM on July 2 [11 favorites]

@jenfullmoon At the beginning of June I went to a Pride celebration and when I went to buy a drink, I realized that I had lost my license somewhere. I lose things all the time and my mental health is pretty dire at the moment, so instead of looking for it I prayed to St. Anthony and forgot about it. Several weeks later I was finishing up at the laundromat and when I was getting into the car I saw my license there on the seat, as though it had just fallen out of my purse. No idea what happened so I just assume it was a miracle.

@kinsey I have this automatic litter box and I love it. I have one cat so I only have to change the tray about once a month. The disposable trays are a little expensive, but you can get them cheaper on ebay. You can also get a reusable tray if you prefer that.
posted by birthday cake at 9:57 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]

penguin: a mini-pc (which is all the guts of a laptop in a box smaller than a Big Mac for 1/3-1/6 of the price because it doesn't have all the extra bits of a laptop - which I don't need, I have monitors and the kb/mouse my wrists like), to replace my work craptop. I already have one of these, slightly less powerful, as a personal PC.

I've been eyeballing some kind of awning-tent thingy for our van, and will probably keep an eye on all of the HASIKA offerings to see if the price is right.

I also use bidet bottles, as the water in them tends to be same as room temperature whereas what's coming out of the cold water supply is too brisk for me most of the year.

Night_owl: as a former camping kid and observer of kids at other campsites, having a Kid Tent (even if they sleep with you at night) as a play/retreat space was a big deal, and a good way to keep kid supplies/toys out of the sun/wind/rain.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:03 AM on July 2

@ejs @forthright I don't think the problem is exactly a graph theory problem because there isn't really a graph. There are items. They get used, but these uses aren't really conenctions/edges per se. But then I was thinking about this and preferential attachment/ the Matthew effect which is definitely a thing in graph theory / network theory where something having been connected to previously makes it more likely to be connected to in future. Often the mechanism is transitvitiy: The more people you know, the more people who can introduce you to new people. The more people who cite you, the more people will discover your work and potentially cite you. While this isn't a connection thing it's the same with the plates. The fact of having been used (and thus ending up on the top of the pile) makes a plate more likely to be used in future. It really doesn't feel like a graph or network of any sort to me, but I can see an analogy.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:31 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]

Not sure if this is chatty enough but does anyone know of a good website that turns scanned (i.e. non-searchable) pdfs into searchable pdfs? Ideally not a phone app, not something you need to download, and not something that costs a subscription. Like a free converter or a one-time fee service?
posted by kensington314 at 10:40 AM on July 2

@ejs when people shortcut a sidewalk taking a right angle by walking through the grass creating a hypotenuse, that's called "a convenience path." As far as I can tell, your choices represent a convenience path.
posted by GamblingBlues at 10:49 AM on July 2 [3 favorites]

@ejs I suppose you could also say you're managing selection from your inventory using first-in/first-out (FIFO) as a methodology.
posted by GamblingBlues at 10:51 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]

Is there a name for this concept that I summarize as “things that get used, get used more”?

@ejs: I think the most used and useful term for this is positive feedback.

And positive feedback often leads to short-lived and ultimately destructive trajectories, such as we are seeing in our climate right at the moment, and in population growth, as well as in very simple situations as when an object tips and then falls over and etc.

Whereas negative feedback tends to be stabilizing and is associated with persistence and longer life spans.
posted by jamjam at 10:51 AM on July 2 [2 favorites]

@NightOwl - one item I added to my camping list that is a game changer is bringing an extra folding table - as big as you can manage. I found one at a discount store for $20 that was maybe twice the size as a regular folding TV tray table, and it's great for camping to use for so many reasons, especially when cooking and serving food.
posted by HeyAllie at 11:06 AM on July 2

Is it possible to purchase a non-smart TV anymore? I'm looking for one at 65" and I don't want it to be "smart". I just wanna watch some gotdang TV.
posted by grubi at 11:12 AM on July 2 [1 favorite]

@grubi - buy any TV you want, and just never connect it to the internet. That's what we did. There's really no way to buy a TV without all the smart features these days, but you are under no requirement to actually connect it or use any of the smart stuff at all. It will absolutely function just fine as a "dumb" panel without all that stuff.
posted by pdb at 1:13 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]

@nightowl - a pocket microscope and binoculars have been consistently a hit with my kids when exploring the outdoors. Honestly, I now want to look at everything with the pocket microscope too.
posted by bitbotbit at 1:15 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]

Whats the ideal ratio of fruit:yogurt:peanut butter in a smoothie? Seeking to maximize yumminess and protein, neutral on fat and calories.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 1:21 PM on July 2

@pdb: Thanks! I just don't want it to bug me to get online either.

This wouldn't be necessary if our beloved 15-year-old 50" plasma TV wasn't dying.
posted by grubi at 1:26 PM on July 2

@grubi If our just over two year old LG is any indication, it won't after you set it up. Ours bugged us a few times during setup, as we connected our various inputs (we connected a Roku and a Best Buy HDTV antenna), but once we got up and running with those, we haven't been bothered at all.
posted by pdb at 1:33 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]

@If only I had a penguin I’m getting some UK Alexa plugs after moving back here.

@yamel I recommend Facebook marketplace too.
posted by ellieBOA at 2:02 PM on July 2

I think this might be a two parter... 1) YOU read Kottke.org and THEY read themarginalian.org. Are YOU and THEY the same person? and 2) If so, would you prefer them combined or separate?

I am building a new website which contains elements of those two sites. If you're a reader of either (or both) would you prefer a single page with those posting styles combined or a site with two distinct sections so you could read one without ever encountering the other?
posted by dobbs at 3:34 PM on July 2

@If only I had a penguin...sub in cottage cheese for yogurt and the ratio won't matter. You'll get the flavor and the protein.
posted by dobbs at 3:36 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]

@ejs Is there a name for this concept that I summarize as “things that get used, get used more”?

Well, in the restaurant / retail / fast food world there are the concepts of FILO and LILO which stand for First In Last Out and Last In Last Out. There is also First In First Out and Last In First Out. FIFO is generally used with perishable items, but with what you're asking about, dinnerware, you're basically dealing with LIFO (last plate washed is the first to be reused).
posted by dobbs at 3:48 PM on July 2

I just don't want it to bug me to get online
You might come to find the pestering somewhat pleasant. I have a phone that I never set up as a phone. I just use it to count steps and play podcasts to entertain me on walks and put me to sleep, and for a while I had the shazam app on it so that I could try to win $10,000 on "Beat Shazam." The phone periodically issues a plaintive reminder that it's supposed to be a phone but it hasn't been set up yet. I enjoy tiny sadistic frissons every time I decline to grant its only wish. It's been years, now.
posted by Don Pepino at 5:17 PM on July 2 [8 favorites]

How do you get good at reading books fast?
posted by capricorn at 7:07 PM on July 2

@jenfullmoon I always pray to St. Anthony for help locating lost items and honestly IT WORKS!!! He always comes through for me. I'm not religious. But I am a little stitious.
posted by carlypennylane at 7:45 PM on July 2

@jenfullmoon I'm now realizing you asked for stories, but I honestly ask him for help so often, it's hard to pick. Lost wallet, passport, jewelry, shoes, so many things. One of the more memorable ones is losing my car keys while hiking (just the small black key fob, no other keys or keychains), asked for help, and voila, spotted them on the trail on the way back out, totally blending in with the dirt. I also ask him for help with finding parking spots all the time.
posted by carlypennylane at 7:54 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]

I also ask him for help with finding parking spots all the time.

Glad that works, but Mother Cabrini is the informal patron of finding parking. This is the prayer:

Mother Cabrini, Mother Cabrini, please find a spot for my little machiney.

(For people who are wondering, this is totally not a joke.)
posted by FencingGal at 8:07 PM on July 2 [6 favorites]

What's going on in Turkey regarding anti Syrian pogroms and the invasion of Iraqi kurdistan in the last few days?
I see some headlines in my Google search but the articles themselves are blocked (I'm in Turkey right now).
posted by Zumbador at 8:33 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]

@capricorn I don't mean this to sound fighty or argumentative, and I hope it doesn't come across that way (and also, it doesn't really answer your question, so, apologies), but: why do you want to do that? What is the purpose of reading books faster, as opposed to just reading them as you can find the time? Does the rate at which you currently read cause you problems?

I only ask because, in my view, there's no "wrong" way to read a book (or books), the same as there's no "wrong" type of book to read. The point is to read and to enjoy the act of reading. You only have so much time in your day, you only have so much time to spend doing a thing - it's OK not to maximize every single thing in the small amount of time you have! Read at your leisure!

Reading is supposed to be a pleasurable activity, and there is literally no way for a person to read all the things, or even most of the things. If it takes you six months to finish a single book, so be it, that's the way life works sometimes. Enjoy the sense of accomplishment when you finally do finish that book!
posted by pdb at 9:06 PM on July 2

@FencingGal mind. blown. I will be sure to try that one from now on!
posted by carlypennylane at 9:11 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]

My latest St A story (after getting my job) is that my lucky necklace disappeared at the theater and finally turned up when I was cleaning the dressing room.

My driving teacher told me to ask Spotted Horse for a parking spot. It almost always works (except for if you are in SF because everything is crazy in SF...we got close several times and then people swooped in).

A friend of mine told me to ask St. Francis about lost pets and while that hasn't always worked, I know of 3 people for sure who got theirs back within 24 hours and several times where lost pet posters came down. One on Metafilter, even :)

I'm considering asking St. Genesius for better acting parts. I'm also trying to figure out what would work/who to try saintwise for a disabled friend of mine who is getting refused services and help left and right and literally had all her hours yanked and told she'll probably have to end up in a senior nursing home while in her 20's, just because she passes out for a few seconds randomly a few times a week and someone needs to be around at all times to call the ER if it gets bad. (I note the ER can't actually figure out what to do either.) And "that's medical" and nobody qualifies for medical, so...
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:41 PM on July 2 [1 favorite]

@jenfullmoon - maybe your friend would like St. Frances de Chantal. She was an aristocratic woman who founded her own order of nuns that was noted for being willing to accept women who were rejected by other orders because of age or poor health. For the first eight years (1610-1618), the order was also unusual in being active in public outreach until people got so offended by women in active ministry that they were forced to become a more traditional cloistered community.

Wikipedia says that she is invoked as the patron saint of forgotten people, widows and parent who are separated from their children but I think she would have a particular affection for those like your friend who are dismissed simply because of their age or health.
posted by metahawk at 10:31 PM on July 2 [2 favorites]

@pdb I got a small book of speed reading exercises as a kid and practiced hard for a month. I can finish a paperback in about 2-3 hours now and fast reading has been a professional and personal boon. It’s not skimming - I truly read very very quickly at about 900-1400 wpm depending on the book. For work it’s great in being able to consume lots of documentation and research faster, and for myself - I love reading and truly enjoy reading about 5-20 books a week. I will occasionally choose to read via audiobook if I want to stretch out the pleasure of being immersed in a really good book, but one of the great joys of being a fast reader is getting to reread favourite books.

I do not recommend the websites and apps - speed reading exercises with a paper book are way more effective in my experience and carry over to digital well, not the reverse.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:25 AM on July 3 [2 favorites]

> adding to dorothyisunderwood's thought, i learned two techniques for speed-reading: hold a piece of paper over completed sections & use a finger or stylus to trace words

paper over sections you've already read minimizes an inclination to look back even though you've already read. following the words both offers immediate haptic feedback & illustrates progress as your speed improves. after a while, those scaffolds can be removed
posted by HearHere at 5:58 AM on July 3

@jenfullmoon, your friend could also try St. Jude, patron of lost causes.

Danny Thomas founded St. Jude Children's Research Hospital because he attributed his career success to a prayer to St. Jude.
posted by FencingGal at 6:00 AM on July 3 [1 favorite]

@jenfullmoon More props to St. Jude.

When I had the absolute worst migraine of my life I was visiting my parents. It was 3 or 4 in the morning. I got up to go lock myself in the bathroom because the pain was so terrible and the bathroom had no windows. Remember it's the middle the night so the light coming in is just moon/stars and streetlights, not actual light, but it was still too much. Then locked in the bathroom the light coming in under the door (from the hallways, from the bedrooms, from the windows, from the streetlights/stars/moon) was too much and I put a towel under the door. The sides and top of the door I just had to deal with.

Anyway, just to convey how bad it was, I had read here on metafilter the article about parents who had left their babies in cars and it had really stuck with me how one of the toddlers had been found and had pulled all their own hair out in their desperation as they overheated. And when I read that I thought that was an odd thing to do since obviously pulling your own hair out would not help. But that night locked in the bathroom I had this impulse to just grab my hair and pull. I don't know why. I didn't do it because I am an adult and I knew it wouldn't help, but I felt a strong impulse for sure and I remembered that article and that poor baby. I have never felt so frantic from pain. I didn't know what do.

My mom came and asked what she could do and asked if I wanted to go to the hospital and I said there was no way I could possibly handle leaving the bathroom and getting in a car and going to the hospital. I was sobbing from the pain. And she left.

And then a few minutes later it just stopped. Like INSTANTLY. Headaches don't usually stop like that, right? Like usually an hour later you're like "oh..I don't have a headache anymore." and it's very graduate. This was so instant that I was confused. I was thinking "Wait...did it stop? I think it stopped? It doesn't hurt anymore?" and when I was sure it had stopped I was TERRIFIED. . I thought that for sure whatever was wrong in my brain had just exploded and that in a few minutes I would be dead. But then I didn't die. And I went and I told my mom I was better and she said "I went to pray for you to St. Jude." and I went sleep.

I will memail you a second St. Jude story because it has identifying info.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:18 AM on July 3 [5 favorites]

capricorn, you might find this "one word at a time" tool interesting for feeling out the flow of speed reading, it lets you play around with the speed and how many words it shows at a time in a chunk.
posted by lucidium at 12:00 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]

@jenfullmoon, I will also add that my port for cancer treatment was an absolute nightmare, but it has worked every time since I started praying to St. Januarius before blood draws. His name came up when I asked Google for the patron of blood draws.

Looks like St. Valentine is the patron for fainting.
posted by FencingGal at 12:38 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]

In older movies, you'll often see a character step into a public phone booth, thumb quickly through the phone book looking for a name, and then tear out the entire page containing the number and address of that person. I have two questions:

1. Is this something that people actually did in real life or is it merely a movie trope?

2. And assuming it really did happen: based solely on the actual real-world harm caused, how big of an ethical breach (if any at all) would you consider it to permanently remove a single page from a publicly provided phone book?
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:15 PM on July 3 [1 favorite]

@Atom Eyes: and then tear out the entire page containing the number and address of that person

The answer isn't really based on "real-world" harm caused, but this would be considered the the last resort of a very desperate person or the action of a psychopath. That's what it meant when you see it in the movies. Tearing pages out of ANY book was just not a thing someone just did without a care; it was a sort of violence.

Most people, in the real world, would not find themselves exceptionally dependent on the white pages in a phone booth - you memorized the numbers of your closest people, and carried an address book or a list of other important numbers, and if you just needed to get someone's number you could call the operator. But you actually saw intact phone books in the wild quite often - if vandals were going to do something, they generally took the whole thing - because there was something of a social contract that someone might need it and it wasn't yours to deface.

In reality I think those books were replaced pretty often, there were entire phone company divisions dedicated to public phone booth maintenance. It was a bit of a faff to get a replacement phone book if you were a business, and they could sometimes be a little precious about loaning their book to you for fear of it running off or being defaced.

Certainly it's one of those things that the Good Kid inside me still recoils at the thought. I have to assume that if I tore a page out of any book after the age of maybe 3ish years I would simply be transported directly to Hell right then.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:21 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]

@jenfullmoon With regard to Catholics praying to St. Jude, the patron of desperate causes. My mother-in-law used to warn us not to pray to St. Jude except as a last resort, because he is faithful in answering the prayer, but sometimes at a significant cost. My wife cannot remember her ever explaining why she thought that, but it is interesting.
posted by forthright at 5:49 PM on July 3

@pdb I want to read MORE books
posted by capricorn at 6:30 PM on July 3

@Zumbador: To me cozy implies that the stakes apply to a few characters. Nobody's trying to save the realm or stop an invasion of Elder Gods. It's just people trying to live their lives. This doesn't mean there are no stakes, just not world-shattering stakes.
posted by signal at 6:43 PM on July 3 [2 favorites]

@Atom Eyes I agree with Lyn Never that tearing a page out of a phone book is just something decent people wouldn’t do. But I do recall that it wasn’t infrequent for the whole book to be gone.
posted by FencingGal at 7:33 PM on July 3

@forthright @a faded photo of their beloved @If only I had a penguin... @GamblingBlues @jamjam @dobbs Thank you all for your comprehensive and very interesting answers that will result in a lot of reading and pondering! Props to you all.
posted by ejs at 10:01 PM on July 3

Well, friend is almost out of her medication, she immediately gets ill enough to have to go to the hospital if she misses a dose, she gets ill if she only takes half a dose...pharmacy refuses to refill and cardiology and insurance are gone all weekend. So I did a St Jude and St Anthony prayer for her on that one.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:23 AM on July 4 [1 favorite]

@forthright I've never heard of this before! I hope it's not true because I pray to St. Jude about the printer at my job just about every day.
posted by birthday cake at 11:43 AM on July 4 [2 favorites]

@forthright @birthdaycake @jenfullmoon I'm not theologian, but I don't see how a saint could extract a cost for a favour. I mean the saint can't actually DO anything, right? All the saint does is pray for you. So if you appropriately entice the saint with entreaties or bribes or deals or what have you the saint will pray for you with greater or lesser ferver and bring whatever influence they have to bear on your case. However, the saint cannot then make bad things happen to you and I don't think the saint can pray for bad things to happen to you because A) That's not very saintly and kind of by definition a person who would pray for bad things to happen to someone would not get past the gate and B) Even if somehow such a person snuck in the gate God would surely look askance at a saint praying for bad things to happen to someone* and would not be paying too much attention to that person's prayers in the future.

* We are assuming a new testament God and that no Pharaohs are involved in this situation.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:31 PM on July 4 [3 favorites]

@jenfullmoon regarding getting lines/parts. Of course there are many factors, but when I was working in summer stock, those one-line parts would go to folks who had a quirk / “a big personality” / could make something out of one line. One specific instance I recall was in Music Man — one of the ensemble REALLY wanted one particular line in “The Wells Fargo Wagon.” And I still remember how she delivered “and a DOU-ble BOILER!” She just had a way with it.

That’s not to say you should be mugging or going wildly over the top. I have found that sometimes folks expect the director to “just tell me what you want” vs having a strong point of view. It’s why a lot of “Hey It’s That Guy/Gal” actors get work in TV/film— they have a point of view / character right away.

Hope you get your “double boiler.”
posted by profreader at 5:38 AM on July 5 [3 favorites]

That's the weird thing, I am that kind of person! :P I note the one time I actually got a part (I note this was a show where they did not get the number of people they wanted auditioning, so I actually got a part...most people were doing 2-4 parts in the show) was that I said one line very creepily and it caught on :)

We'll see what happens in the next show....
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:01 AM on July 5 [2 favorites]

Howdy, jenfullmoon! I was once paid to follow cartoonist Scott Dilbert around for a mainstream publication. I did not write about him, I fed my interview notes and recordings to a journalist who did a cover story about that particular fucking guy. Anyway, the weirdest thing about interviewing him was discovering his explanation for how he became the most popular American cartoonist, which he was at the time. He claimed that every single day he wrote affirmations.

Or as a blog puts it, Scott Adams, the creator of the comic strip Dilbert, credits writing 15 affirmations a day (“I, Scott Adams, will be a famous cartoonist”) for his meteoric rise. Will this work? I have never tried it but can it hurt? I'm guessing nope. Might be worth a shot.
posted by Bella Donna at 8:44 AM on July 6 [1 favorite]

@Bell Donna Wait, Did he know you were following him around? I mean at first it sounded like he didn't, but then if you also interviewed him, it might have been hard to follow him around without his noticing.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:52 AM on July 6

Yes, I was a mainstream reporter at the time and he was entirely aware that I was following him around, excited that I was (it was for a major article), and he was excited to share his affirmation magic.
posted by Bella Donna at 10:05 AM on July 6 [1 favorite]

Yeah if this ends up becoming another subsite, I think "ChatMe" and chat.metafilter.com would be much clearer as to what it's meant for than "HelpMe" and help.metafilter.com. The latter sounds more like a crowdfunding service.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:17 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]

@Zumbador, re cosy fantasy - I think the label has been used a bit too widely to be entirely helpful. Honestly, at this point, I think I only have two really solid expectations of a book described as "cosy fantasy": it's character-focused (nobody would mistake it for a history book), and nobody would ever describe it as grimdark.

Cosy fantasy novels probably have comparatively low stakes (the protagonists are probably not tasked with saving the world). They probably have very likeable protagonists, who are generally nice to each other and see the best in people. If there is threat of serious harm to the protagonists or someone/something they love, the threat is probably going to be defused, or at least prove to have no lasting consequences. But none of those is entirely guaranteed. And there may definitely be some background or off-screen plot aspects with deeply unpleasant connotations; characters may still suffer injury or violence; people (especially people we haven't been introduced to) may die.

Put it another way, if I pick an unfamiliar book from a list of cosy fantasy recommendations, I don't really know what I'm getting into. I hope it's going to be a pleasant couple of hours spent in congenial company, and it probably will be... but beyond that: maybe it's going to be incredibly twee; maybe it's going to be a charmingly told story about horrifying face-stealing monsters; maybe the protagonist is going to lose a limb within the first thirty pages; maybe it's actually what I'd describe as space opera, not fantasy at all.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 10:17 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]

@kensington314 I think all the pdf software folks have something like this: https://smallpdf.com/pdf-ocr or https://www.adobe.com/acrobat/online/ocr-pdf.html
posted by bluefly at 10:21 AM on July 10

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