Friend included only in major celebrations

DEAR HARRIETTE: I noticed something peculiar about one of my old friends; she invites me to major celebrations such as milestone birthdays, bridal showers, weddings and baby showers, but never for any small get-togethers like a girls' night out or dinner party. This has been bothering me lately. It's the time of year when I evaluate my friendships, their significance in my life and whether I want to keep them. Going into the new year, I'm unsure what kind of friendship this is. I appreciate the invitation for special occasions, but I wonder why she doesn't include me in anything casual and low-key.

Remember hysteria over Trump’s tax returns?

On Dec. 30, as Washington shut down for the Christmas-New Year holidays and Republicans prepared to take over the House of Representatives, Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, in their final days of power, released copies of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns from 2015 through 2020. Democratic lawmakers had fought for years to get the documents. They claimed they needed them not for partisan political reasons but in order to oversee the Internal Revenue Service more effectively. The “legislative purpose” rationale was always a joke; everyone knew that, once they had the returns, Democrats would release them to the public in hopes of setting off a wave of negative stories about Trump.

Remember to keep a light burning

Here’s a New Year’s resolution: Support Ukraine. Stop Putin. Kyiv needs all the essential weapons of war – tanks and missiles, howitzers and drones. But it also needs less obvious weapons, from diesel-powered generators to long-lasting lightbulbs.

DO JUST ONE THING

Does your washing machine have the option of adding an extra rinse cycle? That extra cycle isn't necessary unless you're washing something heavy duty or if an item needs some serious cleaning. For normal laundry, the extra rinse cycle is unnecessary as long as you use the right amount of laundry detergent. Too much detergent can leave a film on your clothes, so follow the instructions and err on the side of using less if you're unsure. Skipping the extra rinse cycle saves 3 gallons of water, too.

College-age son only wakes up in the afternoon

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is home from school for a month, and all he does is sleep. I know that college was tough for him, but I do not like what he's doing now. At first, I let him sleep to regain energy. But now it has been a couple of weeks, and he still doesn't get up until after 1 p.m. That doesn't work in our house, and he knows it, which is why I'm concerned. I don't want to yell at him, but I need to break this pattern. What do you recommend? — Sleeping Beauty DEAR SLEEPING BEAUTY: What other unusual behaviors, if any, have you noticed in your son? When you talk to him, what does he talk about? What are his interests? How did he do in school? Can you get him to talk about his experiences at all? Your son may need to speak to a mental health professional. Do research in your community to find a therapist that he can visit in person or through a televisit. Get him evaluated. Resist blowing up at him. That won't help.

New year, still unresolved issues

Aformer president facing unprecedented legal challenges. A Justice Department confronting peculiarly awkward and unappealing decisions. A new Republican-controlled House facing an unusually fractious future. A GOP leader in an a typically difficult struggle to capture the speakership. An incumbent president approaching a re-election battle that his party would prefer he not undertake.

New therapies seem promising for prostate cancer

Dear Doctors: I am dealing with prostate cancer. I have a Gleason score of 8, which I understand makes me high-risk. I am undergoing hormone therapy, and brachytherapy is pending.

Employee feels uneasy with all-gender restroom

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm uncomfortable with the all-gender bathroom stalls at work. I was used to the traditional setup, where men and women had separate bathrooms. Having an all-gender bathroom space seems too intimate for me, and it's a bit embarrassing when I need to use the restroom while someone of the opposite gender is in there. I can't help but feel like we're invading each other's privacy by sharing this space. It makes me anxious every time I go into the restroom because I don't know who might be in there. Speaking up about this probably wouldn't go over well, as gender inclusivity is one of the company's key values, and I don't want to ruffle any feathers. What should I do? — Uncomfortable DEAR UNCOMFORTABLE: Perhaps some perspective will help you here. In many parts of the world, public bathrooms are open to whoever wants to use them, regardless of gender. The thinking is, this makes it convenient for everyone to use the facilities when they need to do so, and the energy around it is neutral. This concept can work well for you as well. For one, it cuts down on lines, particularly for women. It also makes the experience of going to the restroom convenient for all.

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