Turns out those plastic 'pods' for washing machines and dishwashers are not good for the environment. When water comes in contact with pods, the plastic dissolves to release the detergent inside, and then the dissolved plastic goes down the drain. While a good percentage of that plastic does get captured by wastewater treatment plants, a lot of it still ends up in aquatic ecosystems. The best way to help is to avoid plastic-encased pods and stick with powdered alternatives that are plastic-free, including the paperboard box they are packaged.

Old companion can’t stop living in the past

DEAR HARRIETTE: Every time I see a certain friend from home, he spends the whole time together going down memory lane. This is a bit awkward since we actually see each other a few times a year.

Election’s over: Let electioneering begin

You would have thought that after the more than $16 billion in campaign spending, the $4 billion in internet advertising and the zillion speeches about the midterm congressional elections, the political class would give it a rest for a while. You would be wrong.

Column sparks several follow-up questions

Hello again, dear readers, and welcome to our monthly letters column. We're headed into the season of indoor gatherings, so it's time to think about strategies for preventing COVID-19 and the flu. We'll discuss this soon in an upcoming column. For now, we urge everyone to please get your flu vaccine and the new bivalent COVID-19 booster. It's recommended for everyone 5 years of age and older who has completed the initial vaccine series. Being vaccinated makes a difference.

After receiving raise, friend becomes a highbrow

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am watching my friend become a snob right before my eyes. She is earning significantly more money than she did last year, and it has turned her into a completely different person. We had favorite bars, restaurants and retail stores that we used to frequent, and now she acts like all those places are beneath her. I am worried that I've lost my friend. What should I do? — Who Are You?

Fashionable friend constantly criticizes clothing

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who is very judgmental. Whenever I see her, the first thing she does is size me up, pointing out things that I should fix so to appear more pulled together. Because she works in the fashion industry, I have let her remarks slide, but I am getting tired of it.

Considering lessons for the future

Alot remains uncertain about the midterm elections. Republicans will almost certainly run the House, but how will they operate with a tiny margin? Control of the Senate probably won’t be decided until Georgia’s runoff election on Dec. 6. But it’s still possible to draw some useful lessons for the future.

Now that the mid-term elections are essentially over and the festive holidays are just around the corner, we thought it was a good time to put the divisive political hatred behind us and take some time to laugh about it instead.