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Digital Camera - Buying advice

Hi Jim , just visited your site and was very pleased to see that you offer advice on cameras and various other things . Because I sure need some advice. I was planning to buy a digital camera and with the amount of options available, I'm totally confused. Basically , I'm a beginner and wanted a good camera for my family vacations. I think point and shoot cameras and high zoom cameras would be suitable for me But am not sure which one to get and what model . Can you please give me your advice regarding this. I plan to spend about $300-400 but wanted a camera which would last and which would be good enough for another 4-5 years at least.

First, I'm not familiar with all the new models of point and shoot cameras, so I can't give advice on specific cameras. I can tell you features that I think are worthwhile and suggest how to go about buying a new digital camera.

The ergonomics of a camera are important to me. I like a raised grip area on the side where the right hand holds on. Some point and shoot style cameras have this, but many don't. Lots of the newer compact digital cameras are shaped like a deck of cards, not easy to hold onto, easy to drop! But then, if compactness and ease of slipping into a pocket are important to you, avoid the grip style. Don't blame me if you drop it! Some camera's only have a wrist strap, I think a neck strap is better.

I recently bought a Canon S3 (now replaced by S5) point and shoot digital camera. The features that attracted me to this model were; first, it was made by Canon, probably the biggest and most innovative camera manufacturer. (All my pro camera equipment is Canon).

Second, it has a shape which allows a good grip. Third, it has a swivel (articulating) LCD which allows for taking shots at low or odd angles as you can swivel the LCD to compose the shot, without the need to get behind the camera. With more camera designs catering to the bigger-is-better theory, articulating LCD displays may become less common.

The S3 also has a very close focus capability, which I like for macro photos. The camera also has great movie making capabilities although I wish it created movies in Apple's Quicktime (MOV) format as opposed to AVI. For Mac users considering a digital camera purchase, the movie format should be a factor in your choice of camera.

The memory card format of a digital camera should also be a consideration. Maybe you have some memory cards already for your other devices? Be aware there is an SD format and a high capacity SD card format and they might not be interchangeable.

Don't be swayed by features like "digital" zoom range. Digital zoom cuts image quality. Optical zoom should be at least 3X. My Canon S3 has the LCD on the back like most digital cameras. It also has a viewfinder like most digital cameras. However, the viewfinder on the S3 is not an optical viewfinder, there's a small LCD inside. I would prefer an optical viewfinder which allows the user to see the actual scene. With LCD displays growing ever larger, many of the new camera designs have no viewfinder at all, like the one at right.

Before making a choice, I suggest looking at, picking up, handling etc the models available at your local electronics or camera store. Be aware that local electronics chain stores might not have the newest models. The also can't complete with the larger camera retailers on price.

A camera you see at Best Buy for $499.00, is likely to be $100.00 LESS at B&H. So you might consider choosing a model in a local store, then by it from B&H of New York City. B&H is the largest camera dealer anywhere. I've written more about B&H on this page, plus important cautions, camera dealer pitfalls and buyer beware stuff.

Pick up or subscribe to a photography magazine. They are full of information on camera features and...the make a great gift and...they can be an inspiration and learning source for better photography.

Olympus makes quality point and shoot digital cameras including weather-proof and underwater models.

Don't let the megapixel count be your deciding factor. Most people don't make large prints from low end digital cameras and the only real need for a high MP count is making large prints. 6MP is plenty in a point-and-shoot camera, in my opinion.

Finally, scroll through some of the questions & answers in the P&S forum on

Consider joinning,a photographers community, where you can post your photos and use forums to get your photography questions answered or, answer questions from others. free to join but paying a yearly $25.00 fee increases the benefits. I've been a member for almost 8 years.

He currently has a girlfriend...

I'm recently divorced (one year and counting) and have two beautiful children that live with me full time. I'm attracted to a guy that I work with who is also attracted to me. We have never talked about dating one another, but I feel like if I would let him know I'm interested we would be a little more open about how we both feel. He looks for ways to come to my office or spend time together. He currently has a girlfriend that he has made very clear to me that they are just dating and not serious. He has made that clear with others in the office even before I started working with him, so I don't think it's a front. In almost every way he is the ideal man for me, we have the same views, faith, and interests. However as he has made it clear about his current relationship he has also stated that he is not ready for children. So my question is this... (in your option) would it be wise to try and take our relationship to a dating level, or do you think in the long run it may prove to be bad for one or both of us? A guys advice that has no bias reason for his honest answer would be GREAT!

Thank you!!!

Here's the most important line in your message: "He currently has a girlfriend that he has made very clear to me that they are just dating and not serious."

I'm willing to bet his girlfriend feels they ARE serious. Would that matter to you? Would he inform her about his new relationship with you, if one occurs? Who knows? Maybe if a third woman comes into his life, he'll tell her he has two girlfriends and is not serious with either of them. This guy is a player, in my opinion. Is your middle name Banjo?...sorry, I'm trying to be funny.

Call me an old poop but, my advice is find someone else, who does not already have a girlfriend!

As usual, readers are invited to submit their thoughts for posting here by writing to jim at Put "Advice" in the subject line.

Photo Color - Skin Tones

4/13/08 Why would someone's skin appear pink/red/ or orange in a photo and nothing else in the photo has that tint?

My friend & I had our children's pictures taken at school. Her daughter's face was orange & my son's face was pink. She brought her daughter's photo to the photographer & asked if they could reprint them. She said the photographer was very nasty & blamed the tint on the girl's shirt & he pointed out how nothing else in the photo was that color.
I plan to bring my son's picture to the photog, but I would like to know what I'm talking about. Why would he be pink if his sweater is gray & the background is traditional blue? My thought is that it might be the color setting on his printer or maybe his shutter was set at the wrong speed? But why would only his skin tone be affected?
Thanks for all of your help!

Without seeing the photo it's tough to say. There are many links in the color chain, any one of which could be the problem. If I had to guess, I'd guess the face in the image was over-exposed. With traditional film processing, over -exposed faces would be too bright or white.

With digital photography, over-exposure on skin tones can cause a color shift, often to pink or orange. One way to reduce exposure on skin tones, if all else is equal, is to increase the flash-to-subject distance.

Very dark backgrounds or dark clothing can cause over exposed faces in portraits. A light colored or white background can sometimes render better portrait exposures.

The cause of the poor skin tones should not be the issue here. If you paid for prints and the skin tones are off, any smart business person would offer a free re-shoot or reprints. If they can't get it right after a second attempt, you should get a refund AND get to keep the bad prints. Check any contract you may have signed with this company when ordering prints. The fine print may have words about color accuracy, satisfaction etc.

12/25/06 "I have trust issues"

Q: My boyfriend and I have been dating long distance for 2 years.

This past year he started attending a university and lives on campus. He lives only two hours from me, but also lives in a co-ed dorm on a co-ed floor. I get really jealous because all these girls are going in and out of his room all the time. He says that they're either friends or there for his roommate. He tells me he's not the sort of person who would cheat and says that I have trust issues (which I do because of relationships with my family). I'm scared to death that something is going to happen and I'm going to have my heart broken.

He thinks that my jealousy and distrust is pushing him away. I'm scared and confused and could REALLY use some help. Thanks

~scared and confused

A: I agree with him. You seem to depend on your relationship with him for all of your happiness. Nobody wants that kind of pressure. Stop pressuring him. Don't call him so much. Find other ways to occupy your free time. Your sense of security should not come exclusively from this relationship.

You're expecting a broken heart. Don't think that way. Realize that if you loose this boyfriend, your life will go on and will more than likely improve! You can find the inner strength to deal with a break-up in a mature way.

A wise man once said: "Change brings the opportunity for growth." Without challenges in our lives, we would not have the opportunity to overcome difficulties and grow into wiser, stronger beings.

Every day, in this life, is a gift, but only for those who see it that way. Just a few generations back, most people struggled for the basics, food, clothing and shelter.

6/0206 - Click to read: Living together for last 4 years - Marriage?

9/12/06 Marriage Intentions

Q: I am 26 years old and after graduating from college, found a girl after several relationships, with whom I have had a wonderful, healthy relationship with for the past two years. She is 20 and has begun courses at a university. During our relationship it seemed as if I was truly her only friend. I am excited about her attending a major university and meeting new people.

I believe I am progressing in my feelings faster than her. Since getting her own place, I see certain sense of independence. I am interpreting her attitude and actions as not being so involved.

If she had completed college at this point, I would be saving for a ring. I do not do this now because I want her to get through college with no distractions.

Any advice to help me keep the relationship through college and accomplish my intention of marrying her upon graduation?

A: Have faith in your future. Things will work, out one way or another.

If she's gaining independence, that's a good thing. It's part of growing up. You don't want her totally dependant on you for happiness...or do you???

At 20 years old, marriage may be the last thing on her mind, even if you are "Mr. Right". She needs a certain amount of time to unfold while living on her own.

Ask yourself, "Did I hope to marry her before she went away to school? Or, have those thoughts only come up only after the relationship became less secure for me?" Think about that, and then think about it some more.

Often, when things become less available, we become more needy for them.

Communication is key here. If you really want to marry her, let her know. You don't need to propose right now but you might say her something like,"If we can keep the relationship working through college, I'm may ask you to marry me someday." Let her know your serious, but not too, seriously!

Let the chips fall as they may and don't worry about it. If you become too needy, possessive or clingy, you could drive her away.

Good luck and thanks for writing.

"How to get him to change"

Q:Hey I would like advice please.

My husband and I have been married for almost 4 years but we do not live together for 2 years because he continually breaks his promises. He never keeps his word to me about coming over to visit me and continually shows up late with no apologies. He also can't pay his bills and fails at school and got fired from his job for being late. I try to tell him that his behavior is bad, but he won't acknowledge it and says that I am being overly bitchy to complain and that he just doesn't like deadlines. Is this behavior acceptable? What should I do? I can't continue to live like this and I don't know how to get him to change.

Thanks, Sincerely,
Waiting for Him to Get His Stuff Together.

A: You said, "I don't know how to get him to change."

Here it is, in one sentence. You can't change him and it's not your job to do so! Forcing your will upon him will only make him resent you.

Lots of women get married thinking, "My husband has faults but I can mold him" into a better person.

You can only change yourself and what you are willing to accept . Read that last sentence a few times.

Find the inner strength to rise above and move beyond your husband's faults. Don't wait around for him to improve. Your life should not hinge on him "getting his stuff together."

Get your own stuff together. Find your true purpose on this planet. It is certainly not judging this man for what he cannot do.

"I'm a Dog Person"

Q:I am a newlywed, married in August.  When my husband and I were dating, I had a dog.  My husband had never owned pets, but seemed okay with it.  Months before the wedding, my dog was killed.  I was grief stricken, but I always knew I would get another dog; I am a “dog person”.  I got a 10-month old puppy (with my husband’s approval) about 6 weeks ago.  She is rambunctious, but is quiet and not destructive; overall, people agree that she is a “good dog”.  I love her, as does my 15 year old daughter who picked her out at the pound. 

Two nights ago my husband told me that he absolutely hates the dog.  She takes up too much of my time and is “always in the way” when he wants to be near me.  I had tried accommodating his requests about the dog up till now – don't let her in the kitchen while we are cooking, don’t let her in the dining room while we are eating, don’t let her in the bedroom while we are sleeping.  Apparently, that wasn’t enough.

My husband told me if I don’t get rid of the dog, he is going to move out.

I love the dog and would feel terrible to get rid of her.  Even worse is what it would do to my daughter, who was equally devastated when our other dog died.

Should I  try to convince him to wait it out till she outgrows her puppy stage, make more rules about how much time I spend with her, etc, or give in for the sake of our marriage, even though he knew and agreed that we were going to have a dog?

A: I'm not a dog person. Maybe I stepped in dog shirt too many times as a kid. I have a scar on my arm where Max, a German Shepard, bit me...thanks Mike!

Here is the key phrase in your message "She takes up too much of my time and is “always in the way”

Work on adjusting those exact issues and I expect your husband will "simma down".

Making a marriage last requires compromise from both parties. When your husband comes into the TV room to watch, scoot the dog off the couch. Giving the pooch more attention and affection than your husband is not a good thing.

When your husband threatened to leave because of the dog, he was angry. You became angry with him. Anger has a way of making us feel right...especially, when we're wrong. It's easy to become angry and stay angry. Moving beyond it requires the work.

Compromise is the solution. Show your husband that his companionship is more important to you than is the dog's.

Is it???

Maybe then he'll be more tolerant of the beast in the house.

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8/17/05 Off to college... without my girlfriend. #0002

"I do not want to lose my girlfriend but I also want to live a normal college life."

7/30/05 Question and Advice # 0001-Click the link below to read it.

I just want my parents to realize...He has honestly made a turnaround...What can I do to make them see that?

6/16/05 Why doesn't he learn?

Q: Hi Jim, me and my boyfriend have been together for 4 years. The problems we are facing come mostly from him telling me he is going to call me and not and recently he stood me up. We have had these problems for a while and he knows that I get up set when he does these
things but he keeps doing the same thing over and over again, apologizing and telling me he is sorry and that he is going to change. But I am getting really frustrated and don't know if I can take it anymore.

Now I feel like the bad guy, because I am avoiding him which I know is not helping but I don't know what else to do. Why doesn't he learn it takes me getting mad for him to realize that he made a mistake.

Should I give up on 4 years???

A: Yes!

Don't look at it as giving up. See at it as stepping up. I'll quote you below so that you might understand my recommendation.

  • "he stood me up"
  • "We have had these problems for a while"
  • "he keeps doing the same thing over and over"
  • "I am getting really frustrated" "I am avoiding him"

Spending four years in this relationship is not a valid reason to continue when it seems to be failing. There are plenty of other guys in this world...blah blah blah.

For the most part life is meant to be a care free and pleasant experience but it requires you to steer your ship around the rocks.

Four years is more than long enough to determine if a partner is a potential lifelong partner, assuming that is what you seek.

As usual, readers are invited to comment. Send e-mail to jim at saugus dot net. Put "advice response" in the subject line.


Hi Jim,

Well, I am writing once again- it's funny that I first wrote you when I embarked into the wedding photography world and I often think of writing you with sooo many questions- but these for today!
Do you have any advice for shooting in a church- not particularly dark- but almost all churches provide poor lighting- I have a stroboframe but I almost still always get some kind of shadow behind the neck of a subject. As per the dark look of the pictures , would exposure compensation help? I find when I use my flash- the subjects are lit fairly but the background is so dark- I can't really slow my shutter down because I get "trails" from hands etc. and camera shake and a tripod just wouldn't work inside for the ceremony. Uugh- there must be some tricks of the trade...churches just weren't built by photographers ;-)
Thanks Jim, I appreciate it- keep well!

Affordable Wedding, Infant, Family and Maternity Photography-

A: Thanks for writing Carrie. I'm no expert at photography, especially wedding or flash portrait photography. For the two weddings I did shoot, I had a tripod on hand. In one case I had an assistant who lugged the tripod as needed. For those " entire church from the loft" shots the tripod came in very handy. If a tripod would not work for you, maybe a collapsible monopod would do.

The right mixing of available light and flash is an art in itself and often results in the most pleasing pictures. The dim lighting in most churches makes this more difficult.

I attended a wedding reception where the ( very expensive ) photographer had four radio-controlled slave strobes set up on poles in each corner of the reception hall. For a church setting, you might try experimenting with an assistant transporting a light-fired slave strobe to help illuminate the area behind your subjects or reduce shadows. These experiments should be done prior to the wedding, of course. Another possible option for reducing shadows, or making them less distinct, is a flash diffuser of one type or another.

Film speed, or film speed equivalent, will be a factor in how the existing light in a church plays into your pictures. If you shoot digital, you could try raising the film speed equivalent, but only during the low-light shots.

The best way learn about getting the type of shots you want is to contact someone who makes them. Check out other wedding photographers Web pages. If you see pictures from churches where you like the existing light/flash mix, ask the photographer how they did it. It's likely they'll be happy to share some tips. You could also offer to exchange links to their site if they serve a different market area.

Something else to keep in mind. Many of the things you see as flaws in your pictures go completely unnoticed by your customers.

Fireworks - White Mountains New Hampshire


Q: Dear Jim, I am a 17 year old boy from Illinois. I was involved with a relationship with a girl from my school. After a long struggle, she convinced me to go out with her. During this time, she was mingling with boys at her job, and she was telling me the full story of those relationships. After time, I decided to end it with her, but our relationship continued to act as though we didn't broke up. It became an open relationship. From then on, she and I fell in love, but it is weird that she does love me but doesn't want to date me anymore, she only considers marriage between us. She now has a strong relationship between her and a 19 year old boy. She and I do stuff together, but their relationship is foggy to me because she won't divulge the details of it. I don't exactly know their actions and feelings towards each other. She tells me she loves me and I her, but in reality, she seems to use me as a crutch to lean on. She is very good at getting what she wants from other men because most men she is around and she works with seem all extremely attracted to her. Also, my family is very distrusting of her towards me, and I know is they want the best for me. One last thing, she causes women around me not to be attracted to me because of her actions towards them when they show interests. She doesn't want me to be with other women, but she can be with any man she pleases. Should I continue with her trying to build a relationship to marriage or give up on it. Sincerely, emotionally confused.

A: You clearly see all that is wrong with this relationship. You mentioned your family's distrust, her manipulation of you and the other boys in her life. You see all this, yet you write to ask if you should try and "build a relationship to marriage."

Hello? Anybody home? ... Sorry but I felt a little sarcasm would be appropriate here.

Here's my take. This girl is hot. You and all her boyfriends think she's hot and she knows it. She can manipulate you and almost all the other boys. Why? Because you lust after her. See that for what it is. She is not so powerful. It's weakness on the part of those who crave her that gives her strength over them.

She has learned how to keep boys ( you included ) on a string for her own sense of security. She's learned to scare away the girls who threaten that security. Not because she's mean or selfish, just insecure.

You said "she seems to use me as a crutch to lean on." You could not have said it better. Is that what you want to be, a crutch?

Forgive and then forget about her. You'll never be happy with her. Eventually you'll meet someone who is much more compatible. I'm sure of it!

Q: Hi, I"m 21 and have been going out with my girlfriend of the same age for about 8 months. We are crazy about one another and have talked very openly about marriage, kids ect. Everything is great except her parents lay guilt trips on her. They say she is allowed to move out by her self or with a friend but not me. And if she does move out with me her mother has told her that she will not help her with the wedding, which is important to her. She also thinks that us moving in together will only make things worse because I will wait longer to ask her to marry me. Even though I told her I will when I'm finished school and have more money and I've giving a promise ring. It seems to me like that is risky thing to do these days marry without living together first. I think its a better idea to move in with her first to make sure we can share a life together. Please help I would really love any help you could give me. Thanks Austin

A: I think it's safe to assume you did not read any of the entries before writing. I'm sure I'll sound like an old poop but here goes...

You like the "try before you buy" concept. From her parent's perspective, this guy wants to try out their daughter before he deciding if he wants to make the purchase.

Her parents are justified in my opinion.

They want what they believe is best for their daughter's security and future. They expect the man who sleeps with their daughter every night to have made a commitment. They deserve a son-law who has faith in their daughter, and patience.

Think into the future, ... 25 years down the road. You now have a 21-year-old daughter. Would you want her to be part of a "try before you buy" deal?

Living together gives a couples many of the benefits and responsibilities of a marriage, without the commitment. When a couple like yourselves moves in together, a bonding takes place, on both a physical and metaphysical level. In a way, you become part of each other.

Reading between the lines in your message, you say you're not sure if you want to marry her. There's nothing wrong with that. It's OK to have doubts. Early twenties may be a bit young for marriage anyway. When you finish school, saving money and having fun with your friends should be part of your plan. Do some traveling too.

If you are certain you want to marry her, buy an engagement ring and ask her to marry you. Have faith.

You said "Please help..." You want me to help you get what you want. I'm trying to make you not want it. I think that will help you more than telling you how to get what you want!

Take a few minutes to read some of the entries below this one.

As usual, readers are encouraged to write in with their responses for publication here. Send e-mail to jim at saugus dot net. Put advice in the subject line.


Q: Dear Jim,
I am a 21 year old male and I'm involved with an 18 yr old female for about three years now and I believe I love her. I am away at college trying to make sure I can provide for us. I recently found out that the women I love played a drunken game of strip poker and some guy got to see her naked. When I asked her she lied, but I probably would have lied to try and not lose her. I haven't been perfect myself but I'm confused. Should I act like it never happened and try to continue my relationship with her or should I be concerned that she's going to do it again? I really care about this girl and we were going to move in together in June, but I don't wanna get hurt! What should I do?
Sincerely, Confused.

A: I don't feel it would be wise to act like it never happened. You need to determine if she regrets what she did and if she considers it a mistake. If she's not willing to discuss it, that's a bad sign.

Most of us have made mistakes we regret. Regrettable mistakes are certainly more likely after drinking to excess. I can't speak from experience but long distance relationships, like yours seems to be, can be very difficult to maintain.

Read some of my responses below this one, you'll see I'm not a fan of "living together" arrangements like you're planning. The majority of relationship problems people write to me about, seem to come out of live-in relationships.

Living together with your girlfriend will bring with it all of the pleasures and pains of a marriage. The difference is, you won't have committed to each other for life. When couples who live together break up, it can be just as traumatic as divorce. Statistics show that couples who live together before marriage have a higher rate of divorce than those that don't.

My advice to you is this. Don't worry, be happy, like the song goes. You're attending college. Make that your first priority. Concentrate on doing well and learning all you can. Focus on finding finding a career that will bring you satisfaction and prosperity. You have more important things to be concerned with than "providing for" this far away girlfriend, who, by the way, seems to be not-so-good at poker!

Thanks for writing and good luck with your future.


...I just wish he was better looking.


Q: Dear Jim
I'm 19 my boyfriend is 20, and at first I went out with him because I was lonely. Which is wrong but true. We have been going out for eight months now, and I'm in love with him, and completely unattracted to him. I even have a secret crush on one of his friends. I haven't cheated on him or anything, but I have thought about it. I know I wouldn't, because I love him, he treats me well, but I just wish he was better looking. What is your suggestion? Thanks, Sally.

A: It is certainly understandable that anyone your age ( or any age ) would want an attractive mate. Very often, the physical features we find attractive in the opposite sex are features that reflect good health.

Let's look at it from a scientific standpoint. It's somewhat "built in" to many animal species to be attracted to the healthy looking members of the opposite sex. This helps ensure that the species produce healthy offspring, which contributes to the survivability of future generations.

Now lets look at this from a different perspective. Lets say next week you have an accident. Your face is badly burned or scarred somehow. Maybe you are no longer what many people would consider attractive. After the accident, you'd still be the same person inside, just not so attractive. You'd want people, and especially a mate, to like you just as they had before, regardless of your appearance.

Good looks are nice to have in a mate but as the old saying goes..."Beauty is only skin deep".

You asked "What is your suggestion? In spite of everything I wrote in the last couple of paragraphs, I won't advise to you continue romancing this guy. Based on what you wrote, I suspect you would not be happy in the long run.

In my opinion, your age of 19, is a bit young to commit to someone for life. It sounds like you may need to "sow your wild oats" before you'll be ready to settle down with anyone, attractive or not.

As usual, readers are invited to submit their responses for posting here. Send e-mail to jim at saugus dot net and put "advice" in the subject line.


Divorce Advice

Q: Dear Jim, I'm reading your advise on the website and I wanted to find out your opinion about divorce.

Why would a 42 year old male give everything up in life: job,house,children,family etc... to become a moocher and live a life of a bum. This person is in na,aa, and church related programs to get his life back in order, but to no avail it's been this way for some 5 years. Any reason why someone would behave this way. I can't seem to figure the whole thing out.

Thank you, Avid reader.

A: You asked for my opinion about divorce. My opinion is that divorce should be a last resort.

You asked why a person would be a bum, and give up everything. I don't know and would not pretend to know.

In many cases, a person who is totally irresponsible is being the only way they know how to be. They are powerless over their problems and don't have the skills or the desire to overcome them.

For your own sake, try to avoid judging and resenting this man.


Relationship Advice

Q: Dear Jim,

It seems I attract men who cheat. How should I deal with cheating? Should I ignore it and work on my jealousy and self-esteem issues or should I dump men who cheat?

Even if I stayed with them and had protected sex, it does make me feel real bad when my lover cheats. Should I just accept cheating or dump them?

Sincerely ,WT

A: Instead of asking me how to deal with cheating, it might be wiser to ask yourself why you attract men who cheat.

Relationship Advice

Q: Dear Jim, My fiance and I have been dating for nine months. She continually breaks promises to me, and lies to me about it. I later find out, and she becomes very defensive. I don't want to break up with her, but I'm getting tired of it. How can I make her more trustworthy to me? Please help. Sincerely, Depressed

A: You, and some readers of this page, might be offended by my harsh, no-nonsense assessment of your message. That's OK. I'm not writing to offend or pass judgment on you. I could be entirely wrong with what I'm about to say but I'll say it anyway.

You can not force someone to be trustworthy. You call her your fiance. How can you love, and plan to marry, someone that you don't trust?

I sense that you don't really love her, you only need her. The more needy you are for her, the less trustworthy she has to be.

The more you need her, the less respect you'll get from her.

Seek to become more self-reliant. You might attract a more trustworthy mate.

I sense that you need this woman so badly, you're willing to put up with what ever she dishes out. And she'll keep on dishing, if you are overly dependent on her. She may be trying to drive you away.

Just let her be for a while. Chill out. Find some new ways to occupy your spare time.

Think about it. This relationship has caused you to sign your message "sincerely, depressed." Maybe the relationship should be dissolved.

It's likely this is not the advice you wanted. Sorry, it's all I can offer and please, don't be offended.

Thanks for writing. I hope my advice has helped. As usual, readers are invited to submit their comments, for posting, about any of the entries on this page. Send e-mail to jim at saugus dot net and put "advice" in the subject line.

Relationship Advice - ...Ready for marriage but he isn't..


Q: Hi, Jim!
I am in my late 20's & so is my boyfriend. We have been dating for 3 years & have lived together for 2 1/2 of the 3 years. Our relationship seems to be strong except for the fact that he lacks trust in me & I am not sure why. I have not done anything untrustworthy in our relationship. I think that the reason he lacks trust in me is because of previous relationships that were bad. Other than the trust issue that comes up occasionally we get along great. However, he still says that he doesn't know when he wants to get married. I am starting to question if he ever wants to. I feel like our relationship should be nearing a marriage after 3 years. I am ready for marriage but he isn't. He is also wanting us to buy a house together. I have let him know that until we are married I don't think that us putting our names together on a house is a good idea so he has decided that he will buy the house & only put his name on it.

I'm beginning to question if I am in a dead-end relationship or a relationship that will go no further than it is at this point. I want to eventually be married & have a family. Can you please help me with advice?

Thanks, Confused

A: You asked for advice. I can only offer my opinion of the situation. Take it for what it is, an opinion.

You'd like him to promise to spend the rest of his days with you. If he already enjoys many of the benefits of being married to you, by living with you, it leaves little motivation for him to make the life-long commitment, that marriage is.

Readers are invited to e-mail "jim at saugus dot net" with their opinions on this one for posting here. Of course you'll need to manually type my e-mail address, replacing "at" and "dot" with @ and a period. Put "Advice" in the subject line or your mail will not be read.

A frequent reader of this column wrote:

To the woman wondering whether or not her three year relationship will ever go further, result in marriage, etc....I say

This is just another example of why it is unwise to live together before marriage. After three years, and no progress towards a more permanent commitment, it is quite evident that he has no intent on getting married.

Also the lack of trust should be a big concern. If he can't trust her after three years, it just ain't gonna happen.

I say get your stuff together and find a place of your own. There is the possibility that moving out could serve as a "wake up call" to him. If it does wake him up, insist on counseling to deal with the insecurity issues and then see what happens. If he comes running back DO NOT MOVE BACK IN. Insist on counseling first to see if he can mature.

Blurred pictures 5/19/04
Hi Jim, my name is Donnette. I love taking pictures of my family and all our activities. But I am still such a beginner. I have a Canon Rebel SLR but my really cool new toy is my Canon Digital Rebel. I want to take pictures of my son Zack's football games. He is on Varsity so his games take place at night. I tried using my digital but got lots of blurry pictures once the action got moving. If the boys were in a huddle or on the line I got really nice pictures. I have a 300MM lens so I can get close in on the action. I have a monopod and a tripod also. I know the dinky flash is part of my problem because even though my lens will reach the boys the flash will not. Do you have any suggestions? I just leave my camera setting on the little green box to let the camera do the work. What should I do differently? Thanks for your time and your help. -Donnette

A: Switch to Program mode ( P ) when shooting in the low light conditions you describe. Change the film speed equivalent, AKA ISO sensitivity, to 800 or 1600. That may allow fast enough shutter speeds to prevent burring under the artificial lights. There is a trade-off in image quality when using those settings. The images will have more noise or false color specks, especially noticeable in dark areas of the image. Write back and let me know if this helps.


Digital Photography Advice

Q: Hi Jim,
Being fairly new to the digital photography world, I have perhaps a silly question!
Do memory cards wear out? Does the quality of the images ever become compromised as the card gets overwritten and overwritten?
Also I just wanted to say that a few months ago you answered my question and turned me onto a website, It has been great. Thanks again! Carrie

A: IMHO the biggest threat to the life of Compact Flash type digital camera memory cards is dirt, sand etc. If debris enters the tiny contact holes, damage to the contacts in the card and contact pins in the camera can result.

  • Remove the memory cards from the camera only when its really necessary and never at the beach.
  • Always transport digital camera memory cards in their protective cases. (when not in the camera, of course.)
  • Static electricity could possibly ruin a memory card.
  • Magnetic fields from things like speakers, might corrupt data on memory cards.
  • Keep a back-up card available, just in case.
  • Read this entire page about digital image file archiving (not related to flash memory)

As far as losing image quality with extended use, I doubt it. That's the beauty of digital. Your images are stored as numbers and code. As long as the numbers and code get recorded accurately each time, image quality should remain constant.

Visit and search for "digital camera" and "flash memory" for more details.

Thanks for writing and thanks for saying thanks!


Marry Me 2/04/04

Q: Hi Jim, I just came across your site by a bit of an accident but I'm most happy I did. I am 20 years old and my boyfriend is 24 we've been together for like 2 years now. I want to ask him to marry me could you please give me some advise on what to do. As a woman is it wrong for me to be the one to ask? I am deeply in love with him and I know he feels the same too.

Oh and one more thing do I have to get a ring? THANK U VERY MUCH, MISS WANT TO KNOW

A: Go for it! Why not? If you've been dating for two years, that's long enough. It's time to make a plan or move on. A ring or some other token of your sincerity would be appropriate.

He might not take you seriously (since a woman doing the asking is not common.) Before getting down on one knee, tell him your are completely serious with what you are about to ask. You'd feel terrible if he laughed.

Prepare yourself in advance for him to say no. If he does say no, at least you'll know where you stand. Write back and let us know the outcome. I don't think we'll be hearing back from you. My guess is, you don't have the nerve to ask! Good luck. Thanks for writing.

Relationship Advice - Short Leashes


Q: Hi, I'm 17 turning 18 soon. My boyfriend turned 18 two days ago. We've been going out for 2 years now. One day before our anniversary he talks to me and tells me that he wants to be friends for now because he has alot if stuff to deal with and the relationship is too stressful. I agree with his reasons but I don't understand why he can't be with me if he loves me. We have a very honest and deep relationship. We keep each other in short leashes and I think now that he's getting older he realizes that he's still young and he wants to have his freedom. He says he doesn't want to lose me and that he loves me. I'm lonely and I have problems too and I need comfort. I don't need any space I need a boyfriend to be there for me. I still love him with all my heart and I know he does too. But what should I do? Should I wait for him, stand by him anyways? I don't know what to do!

Q: Dogs don't like leashes, especially two-legged dogs. They'd rather run free.

All joking aside, one of the ways people grow is learning to adapt to change. In my opinion, going separate ways would be a change for the better for BOTH of you. It sounds like you need him too much, maybe drawing too much from him. Needing someone is not the same as loving them. Read the previous two sentences a second time.

Don't wait for him. That will leave you disappointed. Strive to be independent, self-sufficient. Most important, don't let your happiness hinge on the approval of others.

At 17, the world is at your feet. It's likely you have a million things to be thankful for. Right now though, you only feel the rejection. I believe you have the capacity to lift yourself above this minor bump in the road. The attitude you choose in dealing with this, is your choice. Make the smart choice. Seek out new friends. Find new ways to occupy your time. Cultivate your hobbies, blah blah blah.

When just about every relationship breaks off, there's can be feelings of hurt, rejection, sadness etc,etc,etc. Most of the time, people get through it. Sometime they learn that their former partner was not the best one for them. In time, they learn that the relationship fell apart for all the right reasons.

To sum up. Unleash the dog. Let him run out the gate. Smile... then close the gate behind him.

New Carreer Advice 9/16/03
Jim, I just came across your website...Some great photo's.
Recently I became a victim of our bad economy and downsizing. I would like to move from "work" to enjoying what I do everyday (so what else is new?). I have been into photography since I was a kid and have some wonderful photo's to show for it. Still use my Rollei 35 I got in high school as well as my Contax.

My second love is flying. I hold a private pilot glider rating as well as single engine land. Most of my flying has been in gliders.... I
enjoy it much better. Real men don't use engines!

Now my question: Do you know of any schools that offer courses in aerial photography that I might check out? The tougher question is, is it possible to make a full time profession doing it? Your thoughts and comments are welcome.
Thanks for your time! Elliot B. Lancaster, PA

A: I doubt that there are many schools offering aerial photography courses. It seems there wouldn't be enough people interested in one area at any given time. It could be that the quickest and most economical way to learn about aerial photography would be buying this book.

I have hired an airplane on two occasions just for the purpose of taking aerial photographs. I did learn a few things and can offer some tips.

· For the sharpest images, find an airplane that allows you to open the window.
· Fly when the weather is clear, low humidity. Early morning is often best.
· Use a fast enough shutter speed to prevent blurred pictures, airplanes can have high vibration.

Being a great photographer is one thing. Making money through photography is something else. The ability to market your photographs and photography services is much more crucial than the ability to take good photographs, if you plan to make any money that is.

I suggest that you make aerial photography your hobby before you try to make it your career. A good way to learn something is just go out and do it.

Let's say there is a large company or a large factory located in the area that you fly. The people who run these places have lots of money to throw around. They like to impress their customers. Shoot several photograph of the facilities, have the best one enlarged (at least 11x14) and elegantly framed. Tape your business card to the back.

Take the framed photograph to the president of the facility and offer to sell it to him for reasonable fee. If he buys it, you've become a professional aerial photographer.

If he won't to buy it, offer to donated it to the company as long as they'll display it in a prominent place. Fasten a small engraved tag to the frame, "Elliot's Aerials." Now, you have an advertisement in place.

There are many aerial photographers who have sites on the Web. Contact them for some first-hand knowledge. Good luck and thanks for writing.

I absolutely hate

Q: Hello. My name is Mary and I am 18 years old. I have been dating a guy for over 2 years now. He is going to be 21 this coming December and his older sister has decided to take him to Las Vegas for his birthday. My boyfriend just told me tonight that his older sister wants to take him to all the strip clubs while they are there, and of course he has agreed to it.

Problem is, he is a hypocrite and has told me he would be very upset with me if I would ever do the same. Not just that, but his sister knows I don't approve. My problem is not just that, but that I absolutely hate my boyfriend's sister. This is not the first thing she has done knowing I will be mad, it seems like she is always out to frustrate me. Do I talk to my boyfriend about it, or are there any other solutions? I need your help. Thank you for your time.

A: Lets address your question, "are there any other solutions?"

People will always do things we perceive as wrong. Whether or not they are right or wrong, can sometimes be less important than how we react to the situation. Especially, if we react with "absolute hate", as you say. When we get angry, the anger has a way of making us feel right, even when we are dead wrong.

You indicated the your boyfriend's sister is out to frustrate you. Consider this. If she does something and you choose to become angry, does that make her wrong...just because it angers you? Maybe, just maybe, you get mad too often or too easily. If we always allow situations to take control of our emotions, we can never be in control of ourselves.

I don't want to sound hypocritical. There are too many times when anger and impatience get the best of me. I'm working on it.

Certainly, there are times when anger is crucial for our survival, if we are being physically attacked for example. In those cases anger can be beneficial. In most cases though, anger and resentment eat away at us. Little by little.

Don't waste any more time worrying about this trip to Vegas. It might never occur. Thanks for writing.

Fooled Around - Relationship advice

Q: My names Justin, I've been with my girlfriend for about 3 months now. Everything was going great until she told me she fooled around with this guy at work before she went out with me. Now, that wouldn't typically be a problem, except for when she tells me how hot and adorable he is. And I recently discovered that he always has his hands all over her, tickling, hugging,ect and she does nothing to stop his behavior. When I visit her at work they dont even look at each other, all the touching takes place when I am not there. I told her that I want to talk to him, but she doesn't want me to. I thing she likes the attention shes getting from him. Am I in the right to be angry with her, what should I do, please help.

A: No, you are not in the right to be angry. This anger will only have a negative effect on you.

Tell your girl friend she can play with her co-worker all she wants, because you're moving on. Don't even look back!


Q: Jim, I am using a Canon D60 Digital Camera (now replaced with the Canon 10D) and was trying to take a longer exposed picture for taking water. Similar to the one waterfall / stream on the web site.

I used to take these with my regular canon camera using Fujichrome Velvia 50 speed film and no problem. For some reason the pictures are way over exposed. They come out completely white. I took it for 4 seconds. I tried setting it to ISO 200,400,800 and 1000 and still did not get any better. I also changed the aperture setting using the whole scale and no luck. Is there anything I have to change as far as setting go. It seems that digital cameras are a lot different in many ways. Sometimes unpredictable. I am going to Hawaii in a few weeks and wanted to get some good longer exposed waterfall pictures during the middle of the day.

Any suggestions would help. I live in Phoenix, AZ but grew up most of my life on Wakefield, MA Thanks,Glen

A: Glen, you can't leave the shutter open for 4 seconds on a bright day and expect a good exposure.

As mentioned on my photography tips page, SLR cameras get the right exposure by controling the duration and intensity of light striking the film or in your case the image sensor. When your camera is in any of it's auto modes, as you lengthen the shutter times, the camera compensates by closing the iris in the lens, called the F stop. Once the iris, or diaphragm in the lens closes to it's smallest possible opening, it can no longer compensate.

Here are my suggestions for getting waterfall photos.

Use of slow shutter speeds may require waiting for reduced light situations (heavy shade or overcast, after sunset etc. ) or the use of a neutral density filter. Mount your camera on a tripod. Use slow film or a slow film speed setting on a digital camera . Select shutter priority mode "Tv" and select a shutter speed of 1/4 or slower. Experiment. Keep an eye on what happens to the f stop setting as you change shutter speeds. Once your f stop reaches it's smallest opening, (on many lenses that's f/22) you can't slow the shutter more without over exposing. Your camera should indicate over-exposure (sometimes a flashing icon) somewhere, if you're about to over-expose.







 Pemigewasset River - Lincoln, NH
This 30 second exposure (impossible without a tripod) was made long after sunset. Auto-levels ajustment in Photoshop and increased color saturation made the lighting look more like daylight.




Relationship Advice
Hi Jim. I've been dating a guy only for a short period of time. He only works a job that is a weekend part time position, so he basically makes no money. He always asked me for money, or to buy him or cigarettes, or to use my car, or to use my cell phone. He says that he feels I'm the one he will spend the rest of his life with and that he will support me when he finds a good job and we grow old together. I love him so much but can't help feeling that I'm being taken advantage of. I broke up with him and now feel absolutely lousy even though I don't have to worry about spending my money anymore. Is love worth taking a risk and being unselfish with my money? Am I just being stingy or do I have a right to be?

Confused but in love....

A: You absolutely did the right thing by dumping this moocher. Don't doubt yourself. Don't waste one minute feeling sorry for him or yourself. Do you think he would have stuck with you if you said "no" to his requests for money?

Self-reliance is character trait well worth seeking in a partner. An honorable man does not mooch from his girlfriend. Don't make the same mistake again!

Dating for 5 Years

Q: I am 25 and my boyfriend is 28. We have been dating for 5 years. Everything has been great up till the past 9 months. I started feeling like he has been cheating on me with his co-worker who is 40. He says that she is just a friend and a really kind person, but she will do anything for him- lend him $, give him things, make him lunch, etc. Then just recently, knowing this is wrong, I logged into his email and saw email's back and forth between him and her and one of them from him to her said something along the lines of him being intimate with her. I am crushed. I love him so much. What do I do? Tell him I saw his email's?? I can't! And, I have never meet the lady but, a 40 year old?!! its so bazaar. Please help.

A: You've been dating for 5 years and you mentioned no sign of long term commitment. No Engagement ring, no Hope Chest. Now you suspect he's being unfaithful.

Whether or not he is being unfaithful...determine what your long term goals are. Do you want to marry this guy? What are his long term plans? Is he the marrying type? After dating for 5 years you should know these things about each other.

Talk to your friends and family members. Sometimes an older sister can have worthwhile insight into these types of things.

If being married (to him or anyone) is part of your plan, it looks as if this guy is not the best prospect. Did you want me to tell you how you could phase out this other woman and get your relationship back on track? Maybe the best way to phase out the other woman, is to phase out your boyfriend. You will survive without him.

Please write back in a while and let us know how things panned out.

As always, reader's comments are welcome.

Cut my Losses 3/3/03
Jim, I have been in a live in relationship with my boyfriend for just over 2 years now. Each year in winter he is unable to work due to the inclement weather. Last year he purchased a new vehicle in his name for me. I have made the payments and insurance payments as well as maintained all of his regular bills and mine while he is out of work from the end of October until mid-March. We have done nothing but fight during his out-of-work periods. Our sex life isn't much to be said. Should I stay in this relationship and continue to help him financially or cut my losses now?

A: Perhaps there is something about your character that fits you together with a man like this. If you get rid of him, would you soon hook up with someone else who's similar to him? Determine how you need to change to prevent relationships like this from developing. Learn how to say NO!

Don't expect him to change. You're his enabler. If you weren't providing, he'd have to get off his duff and earn some money, year round, or find a different enabler.

So thoughtful of him to purchase a vehicle in his name... for you... and let you pay for it. The vehicle may be his legally if you two go separate ways.

Yet another great example of why I'm not an advocate of "live in" relationships. Live in learn! Thanks for writing.

Pursuing it 2/20/03
Q: Hi Jim...

I'm 27 and divorced, but semi-dating my ex-husband. We have been trying for 8 years to make a go of our relationship. He left for US Marine Boot Camp a few weeks ago and he is not allowed to talk to anyone, only write. I have a neighbor who is very attractive and with whom I get along really well with. He has a gf who lives a few hours away and they have been dating for 4 or 5 years. The other night he and I got fairly intimate, but did not have sexual intercourse. He is obviously attracted to me, and me him. I know it's wrong for both of us to do this to the other two people involved, but I can't help thinking that we were supposed to meet. Should I let him pursue it if he wants to, or should I pursue it? We both truly do love our significant others, but the chemistry between us (and not just sexually) is so wonderful, I can't help but feel like we're passing up something that we should investigate further. Thanks for your advice...

A: You asked " should I let him pursue it..." or should I pursue it?" Either way, you sound determined to get together again with this "very attractive" neighbor.

Is the relationship with your ex worth saving? How would you feel if he wrote from boot camp and told you he met a woman he found very attractive and had great chemistry with?

Hopefully, he won't ship out to Iraq.

On a different note...Would your neighbor dump his girl for you? Would you even expect him to? Nobody likes to be betrayed. What if she makes a surprise visit while you two are "pursuing it"? Crimes of passion are common.
Does she pack a Colt Defender in her purse? Who knows?

...just a few things to think about before you "investigate further." Thanks for writing.


Q: I'm 34 and my girlfriend is 24, we've been together going on 3 yrs now. The first 2 were pretty good,but when we moved in together she changed into different person the communication has never been the greatest but now it's even less! She has said that this has been the best relationship she has ever experienced, but she won't open up! Recently she has been taking meds to calm her depression but if she doesn't take them she is very angry and hostile. Sex was good in the beginning now not often if at all. I love her very much, but the guessing is driving me CRAZY!!!! What should I do?

A: You said the relationship was good until you moved in. Move out!


Q: I am twenty two years old, living away at school part of the year, and at home during the summer. How do I (or should I) tell my extremely
conservative parents about my new tattoo?

A: I think you should tell them ASAP. I would guess they'd be more disappointed in you deceiving them, than they would be about the tattoo. I'm sure they'll want to know why you did it. Why did you?


Q: Hey Jim,

I am a 32-year-old single woman who seems to be in a rut. For the last year and a half I have been dating a married but separated man. He promised me that he was going to get a divorce. First, it was May 02, then Dec 02, and now March 03. At this time, I don't have children, but would like to in the near future. He keeps telling me that a divorce is very expensive. Considering, the fact that he is in the military he would lose some financial and medical benefits. At least Thats what he is telling me. Now with the possibility of the US going to war he maybe leaving to go overseas. This would be the second time since we have been dating each other. I waited the first time and was very understanding and supportive considering his marital/military situation. Since his return in March 02 he hasn't kept any of his promises. Now he wants me to wait another 6-9 until he returns from overseas. Lately, I've been very depressed. It seem that all of my friends are married, getting married, starting families, buying homes and more. I'm still working 2 jobs trying to make ends meet. It would be so nice to be in a relationship with someone who was willing to work with me and build a future. Do you think I'm wasting my time, hoping that one-day things will change?
Losing Hope

A: In a nutshell, yes! Don't loose hope though. Someday you will change so that you won't find yourself in relationships like this.


Q:There was a question on your site from someone whose computer got fried from a lightning strike that went through the cable modem. They sell special surge protectors where you can run a cable in & out, and thus theoretically protect you from lightning without having to disconnect everything when a storm comes. I have one of those, and it also has connections for phone lines in & out.

I dig your site by the way. Matt

A: Thanks for writing Matt. The question you refer to is further down on this page. I've seen surge protectors but did not notice any for 75 ohm coaxial cable. I'll keep my eye out for one. If the maker of these devices offered a warranty against damage from lightning, I'd buy one. For now, I'll continue to unplug my cable modem when thunderstorms approach.


Q: Dear Jim,
I am about to be 20, my "significant other" 21. We have been dating on and off for a little more than 3 years. However, I attend college 3-4 hours away from where he lives. We are not currently "technically" together because of the distance. I understand that we are young and need time to meet other people and do things for ourselves, however, sometimes I feel that not being together while being in love is detrimental to both of us. I date other people but it never works out because they are not him, and he doesn't date at all. When I bring up getting back together he says that we are still young and that we are a long term thing and that if its meant to be it will work out. His main argument is that it is too hard for him to continue dating long distance because he is too insecure to handle the fact that I go out often and am friends with many other men. When we are together over breaks it is fabulous. I have a great time and want to see him ever more, but it is getting to the point where leaving is hard and I just wish that either we could be together or break up for good so that I can move on with my education, career, and life. Your advice to others is so great I thought I would give it a try. Please help. Thank you so much.
~confused and running out of patience!

A: You've confused me. After reading your message I'm not sure who wants to end the relationship, you or him. The only way I can make an assessment is to read between the lines. You said " I wish that either we could be together or break up for good so that I can move on with my education, career, and life." That tells me you feel as though he's holding you back.

Do you feel guilty because you date and he doesn't? You also said " not being together while being in love is detrimental to both of us." I sense that you don't really love this guy but continue the relationship because you're comfortable with him. Of course, this is all conjecture on my part.

Ironically, my answer to the previous question has some relevance here too.


12/17/02 Off to College

Q: My girlfriend and I have been going out for 2 years. I'm 19 and she's 17. We are both happy with each other and love each other very much. We talked about her going to college when she gets out of high school and I'm all for it but when I talk about going with her she says she doesn't know if she'd want to have to be with me 24/7. She says shed still wants to be boyfriend and girlfriend but that she just wants to go out and experience the world. What I tell her is that after not being with each other for a certain amount of time you start to drift and end up getting closer to someone else. I see it that way because I have had a long distance relationship before and it didn't work out. I don't see why if we've been going out this long why we have to separate. Why can't I experience the world with her? I just don't think that a relationship should be a long long distance one because then its pointless. To me when you have someone you care about you should be with them and spend time with them (not necessarily 24/7, but with them). Not just talking on a phone. I'm not planning on marring her anytime soon I just don't see how you can make a relationship work when you're not there. What my question is am I being selfish or should she take into consideration what I'm saying?

A: If she wants to go off to college, let her go & without you. She's made it clear how she feels. In my opinion, the more you need her, the less she will want you. That's not to say if you need her less, she will want you more. You must gain the self-confidence to be OK without her.

I guess you could say you're being selfish, most men are to some degree, at least until they've had time or a reason to grow out of it. That is usually a life-long process. With each new change comes an opportunity to grow. Don't miss the opportunity.

In the meantime, don't get all jammed up. Go with the flow Joe. At 17, she must still be in high school and who knows what the future will bring?


11/05/02 Jealous boyfriend - Relationship Advice

hi...I am Susan, 19, from California. My problem is that my boyfriend is overly jealous. He reads my e-mails, get suspicious of my male friends and questions about everything I do. I love him very much and plan to marry this man (he is 24). I think I'll end up in the nut house though if it's going to be like this forever! HELP!

A: Susan, you are wise to foresee ending up in the nut house. You may have been joking but it's no joke.
If you think that he will be less jealous after you exchange vows, you're wrong!

We could get into why he is overly jealous, but that would be pointless. It's you who is writing for advice. You see something wrong with the situation. Trust your gut feelings. Hypothetically, ask yourself, what would he do if he found out you were seeing someone else? Would he do something irrational? Would you be in fear of him? If you are trustworthy, you deserve someone who trusts you.

Understand that excessive jealousy, possessiveness and exerting control is NOT a sign of love. The fact that you are writing to me is a RED FLAG. PLEASE SEE IT! Confide in someone close to you about this; parents, an older sister or better yet an older brother! Someone you trust.

At the end of your message you yelled, HELP! Someday you could be yelling help and nobody will hear.

Am I overreacting? Too dramatic? Maybe. Maybe not. Let's get some responses from readers on this one.

The following is a response sent in by a reader on 12/4/02:

Here's my opinion, keeping in mind that I'm an outsider looking in. (And you definitely touched on some great points Jim).

A) He's insecure with himself. Until he can be secure with himself, the two of you shouldn't be committing yourselves to marriage. It will only punish both of you and marriage should not be a punishment. You should not be in charge of making him secure with himself, only he can do that.

B) Most likely it will only get worse after you are married. It might start with the male friends, then trickle down to what are you doing with your girl friends, then what are you doing with family members, etc., etc.

C) Have you heard good things about prison life?? Sounds like you might be condemning yourself to something close to that (yes that's extreme, but think about losing ALL your friends, family, etc.)

D) Seek counseling, that is if you really think the relationship is worth saving. If he isn't willing to go, then that tells you A LOT about him. If he really and truly loves you, he will do whatever it takes to make YOU comfortable and YOU will understand what makes him comfortable and why he acts the way he does.

E) Another point, and don't get me wrong on this, but what is it exactly you do with your "male friends"? Are you hanging out with them at all hours of the night? Are you flirting with them? I'm not trying to accuse you of anything or give him an excuse, but is there another side of the story that isn't presented here? Is it possible that he is concerned about you and/or interested in what you are doing? This DOES NOT excuse him from reading your emails. That is just plain WRONG. Again, this is why counseling might be a good thing, you could establish boundaries and "vent" about what is bothering both of you.

Just some things to think about.




Q: Hello, I would appreciate your advice. I have a
girlfriend, and we have been together for over 15 months now. Recently she
has been quite insistent that we take a break away from one
another so that we can enjoy our "young days", because as she keeps reminding
me "we are only young once". She is 17 and I am 18. We have a very good
relationship and love each other very much, but currently all I can think
about if we "take a break" is her being with (and sleeping with) other guys
and also the fact that, although she insists we will get back together "one
day", she'll just find someone who's better (looking) and nicer etc.... and
will never want me back.
If it is of any use to you i am a very serious rugby player in
England, and this does take up a lot of my time, but I still have plenty for
my girlfriend, and I truly enjoy the time she gives me, because there is no
better way I can find to relax than with her... Anyway, I'd appreciate any
advice that you could give me. Thank you in advance!

A: My advice is, let her go and don't expect her back. She's not your possession.  You WILL survive without her. Besides, if you need to convince her to stay with you, what does that say? Look at the bright side. You'll soon find someone else who makes her pale by comparison. At your age it's best not to be wrapped up in one person for too long.

Cold Feet
Q: I'm getting married on July 20, 2002. We've been together for 2 years,
and we grew up together. He's 21 and I'm 18. Some people say this is
too young. I've had a few partners, and I've been in love once before.
I clearly love this man, but sometimes I find myself asking "is this the
guy I'm gonna spend the rest of my life with?" Is this normal, or do I
just have 'cold feet'? Please give me some advice, I'm extremely
confused. I'm wondering if there is some answer out there for me that I
just don't see because of my age and inexperience, or at least that's
how my family makes me feel.

A: If your feet are cold, try thicker socks. Just kidding. I can't advise you not to get married but consider the following.

From my perspective, 18 does seem a bit young to tie the knot. I think people change considerably and learn quite a bit about themselves and the world as they progress through their twenties. I believe it's good learning experience for a young person to live on their own, out from under their parents roof for a while, before getting married. Certainly, that's not always possible, considering the cost.

It's probably common for those about about to get married to have doubts. Your family knows you well so any advice they have should be given careful consideration. If the man does not meet your expectations then don't be afraid to put on the brakes. Hopefully, readers will write (before July 20th) with comments and advice for you. When they do, I'll post it here. Thanks for writing and good luck with whatever you decide. Write back with an update if you get the urge.

A reader sent the following, with which I agree:

Regarding the young woman who is about to get married at age 18.

If she is asking herself questions now, she would be wise to wait. What would it hurt to wait? In two years she will be twenty, regardless if she's married or not. Why not wait a couple of years to see if he is really "Mr. Right."

Another point, if you tell someone not to marry, especially at age 18, they will marry to prove you wrong.

I have seen too often people getting married for reasons such as wanting to get away from their parents, insecurity, afraid of being alone, money, etc.,etc.

I would also suggest some premarital counseling, through a church or a counselor to make sure they at least agree on "the big stuff," i.e. child rearing, finances, etc.

A divorce is much more difficult and possibly more expensive than postponing a wedding



Get A Job

Q: How does one get a job in the photo industry? I've been trying but no luck. Any advice or could you give me places to look. I'm including my resume. I mainly did production,worked with the Qss machines. But would love to do darkroom work,black and white,color okay. Assist in studio setting. I really want to learn ALL the ins and outs of this industry. I don't have a darkroom at my finger tips, or alot of equipment. I only have a 35mm and a old 2 1/4 camera. It really doesn't matter what I do, just that I am doing what I love. Any suggestions or comments or help you could give me that would be great! Thanks for your help.

A: Keep in mind, I've never really looked for work in the photo industry. Most of the photography work I've done has come through my Web site. People saw my photography and then hired me to make images for them. I can offer some tips on finding employment in general.

Don't look in the Help Wanted section. I would guess that most worthwhile job openings get filled without advertising. Find the place you want to work and offer them your valuable skills. Here is what I suggest. Print 10 copies of your resume on good quality paper. Find your telephone book and open it to the yellow pages. Find 10 or more local photography studios or labs that do the type of work that interests you. Dress yourself in attractive clothing and visit these businesses in person. Bring a portfolio along if it would apply. (It wouldn't hurt to have an on-line portfolio.) Tell them the type of work you're seeking and ask if you can present your resume to someone who does the hiring. It's likely that most will tell you "we're not hiring right now." Be prepared for that and ask if you can leave a resume just the same. Then move on to the next on your list. Eventually, you'll get hired.

If wedding photography interests you, contact local wedding photographers to ask if they need an assistant or intern. You could volunteer your help free, to learn the trade.

You could always read a few books on the subject.

There are several factors to consider when applying for a job aside from doing the type of work you enjoy. Location for example. Nobody needs a long commute right? Of course pay and benefits are important but flexible working hours and a clean and safe working environment should be considered also. Photography is an extremely varied field. Good luck. Write back to let us know the outcome.



Q: Why is an automobile 'dash board' called a dash board? Why not a control panel,or instrument panel?
Think you can answer that one? Of course, I'll be looking elsewhere for the answer, but I was told that you can answer ANY question. Well, I'm about to find out if that's true. Thanks for trying, at least.

A:Who told you I can answer any question? It's just not true.

The term was coined prior to automobiles. When dashing through the snow in a one horse open sleigh, a "dash board" prevented mud and snow from flying off the horses hooves and going where it shouldn't.

Q: Jim, I will be leaving for Vegas in a week. Where can I get a
Saugus sweat shirt to wear in Vegas?

A: Have one custom made at
Superior Stitch
338 Central Street, Saugus, MA (rear RR tracks)
(781) 231-2640

Tell Ken Jim sent you.



Auto repair advice



 Q:Hi Jim, I came across your site after searching so far and wide for answers. I just acquired a 1978 MERCEDES 450 SEL (European model) , I am looking for any information I can get . Pictures, books, repair manuals, etc. I have done all kinds of searches and have come up dead in the water. If you truly enjoy a good challenge, here it is. Thanks in advance, I look forward to your answer. TED

A: Click here Ted.

Q: Dear Jim,
I enjoyed reading your questions and answers. I have a problem with my soon to be 4 year old daughter. I separated from her father 8 months ago and we both started into immediate relationships with other people. My daughter is a very loving girl and happy. The problem is she is scared of my boyfriend. He is a very kind man and feels very hurt that she cries when he visits. She sits beside of me on the opposite side of him and won't let me go. I have been to a counselor and he thinks that she is afraid of her security with me. Do you have any suggestions that would "break the ice" with my boyfriend and my daughter?

A: Have you asked your daughter why she is afraid of this man? It's possible she's afraid simply because he reaffirms the loss of her father. She may feel her father is being replaced. Try putting yourself in her shoes. On the other hand, sometimes children have innate good judgment of character. Time will tell.

It sounds like she's not had the chance to get to know him and have fun with the two of you. Do the three of you do fun things together or does he just come over to... visit?

Breaking the ice is not the most important thing here. I'm sure your relationship with your daughter is more important to you than your relationship with this man. Otherwise you would not be writing. Demonstrate everyday that she is the number one person in your life.

Q: Jim
I recently heard of a case, where a friend of mine lost a cable modem due to lightning.
How can we prevent this from happening ?

A: Same thing happened to my cable modem. It wasn't a direct lightning strike but there were many strikes in the area. Henceforth, I'll be disconnecting the incoming cable wire and the power cord from my cable modem at the first sign of a thunderstorm and before leaving on vacations. Unplugging all computer equipment before electrical storms is a good idea.

Q: I am trying to open a file on a floppy disc and the computer is saying the
disc is not formatted. I have been using this disc for weeks with no
problems. Whats wrong?

A: First, try accessing a different floppy to assure the problem is not your disk drive. Floppy drives accumulate dust especially when a disk is left in them continuously, holding the dust door open. Dust can cause read/write problems. I had a floppy drive which would not read and after blowing the dust out, it worked fine. For more info visit Howstuffworks "How Floppy Disk Drives Work"

Since you get a format error I suspect your disk has bit the dust. No pun intended. Floppy disks are not immune to failure. All sorts of things can contribute to their demise. Sometimes, they just wear out. Magnetic fields can alter the arrangement of the magnetic particles in the disk which store your data. If you set floppy disks near your computer speakers that could make disks fail. Most speakers have powerful magnets inside. Monitors also generate magnetic fields.

When saving important data to floppy disk, a second or third copy on a different disks is recommended. Alternate between disks each time you back-up files. Always use high quality recordable media. I recommend TDK products for superior quality. Bargain brands should be avoided at all cost, pun intended. I learned that lesson the hard way about 9 years ago. I bought some floppy disks cheap. Many of them failed.

Q: My problem is very typical of a 16 year-old boy. I go to my sister's house
about 4 times a week. Next to my sister lives a 15 girl named Holly. Holly and
I have never been close, in fact we were just formally introduced last month.
The more time I spend with her, the more time I want to spend with her. I
can't stop thinking about her. I've never been the most attractive, smartest,
funniest, or most charming guy, but my sister told me that Holly has had
somewhat of a crush on me for the past year. I'm not sure if I should use
that as a basis to ask Holly out, or if I should just let it go. I noticed
that you always give straight-forward advice, and refrain from using one's
'need' of another person to justify anything. I won't say that I love this
girl, but I am definitely interested in getting to know her better. Any
suggestions as to how I go about this?

A: Let Holly know you like her. When you say good-bye to her, you might tell her you look forward to seeing her again. If you want to get to know her better, suggest doing something fun together. It doesn't have to be a formal "date." Something simple like a bike ride or a trip to the ice-cream store might go well. Good luck and have fun.

Q:Hi Jim: I am going to Alaska in a couple weeks. Do you have any tips for photographing the following: snow capped mountains, glaciers, ice bergs, whales? Any tips for photographing from a small plane and helicopter? Thanks very much for your help. Beth

A: Once upon a time, I hired a single engine airplane (at the rate of $100.00 per hour) to photograph my hometown. The window opened to allow unobstructed photography. If you can't facilitate an open window in Alaska, see about cleaning the windows you'll be shooting through. Shoot as close to the window as possible to avoid reflections. Avoid putting the lens agains the window so as not to transfer the planes vibration to your camera. Include the interior of the aircraft in a few of your images but don't blind the pilot with your flash. Nobody wants a blind pilot!

Don't be afraid to ask the pilot to go where you want for the best angle. The worst he could say is, "Sorry, traffic into Logan has been diverted and we gotta get out of this area."

Another point, while on photography flights, take the camera away from your eye once in a while and simply be in the moment. Enjoy defying gravity.

Film speed will be a consideration too since fast film will allow the fast shutter speeds and and small apertures you want but remember, fast film, 400 and especially 800, will not be best for poster size enlargements.

About photographing snow, glaciers, icebergs etc. A camera's light meter is often fooled by white, highly reflective snow (when snow fills a significant portion of the viewfinder) and white snow will often appear gray in the resulting images. Over expose snow from 1 to 3 stops depending on brightness, sunshine etc. If you find yourself upon a once in a lifetime image, bracketing your exposures is always a good idea. Submit your question in the forum at You may get responses there from many photographers. Good luck and enjoy your trip.

Q: hi my name is nick and their is this girl who i have been in love with
for 4 and a half years now i tell her all the time but she always just tells
me to shut up now we are good friends still and i talk to her all the time
but when ever i bring that up she freaks and i just feel like i want to be
close to her but she just wont listen i plan to ask her out with in the next
few days what do you suggest i do i have given her some time between the last
time i asked her its been about a half a year since i have asked or brought
up anything about us... but i need her i feel i cant live with out her and i
need some advice on what to do fast. what do you think i should do i am 16
right now and so is she but i know what love is and it is very strong i know
i wish she could just understand how i really feel and just give me a chance
please let me know what you think that i should do thank you..
sincerely nick

A: Nick, you said, " I need her I feel I cant live with out her". Therein lies the whole problem. Needing someone is not the same as loving them. She doesn't want you to have an excessive need for her.

At your age the desire to relate with a girl you care about is healthy. On the other hand, to become obsessed with one person is not to your advantage. Think about it Nick. Your whole world seems to revolve around this girl, who tells you to shut up. I don't mean to be rude but& snap out of it! Rise above this. If you grow to become a confident, complete individual and you have good character and values, then you will attract a woman who appreciates an honorable man. In the meantime, don't beg like a dog for any girl to accept you romantically. You are the master of your destiny Nick. The decisions you make, about what is most important, will determine your future.

Q: I saw on your picture "New York City at night from Empire State
Building" that seems to be taken with tripods and I have a question to ask you.

I will soon visit New York, and I want to take some pictures by night from the
top of the Empire State Building with my tripods.

Could you tell me if you had some problems using tripods on the top of the
Empire State ? I've been told that it is a quite small place to deploy a tripod without
bothering the other tourists that walk close to you.

Are tripods authorized by default on the Empire State, or do I need to obtain
any authorization ? Thank you for your help.

A: Look at the the second picture down on this page. You'll see the wire fence with diamond shaped openings. I placed the camera lens barrel into that opening and used the fence to steady the camera, bracing it against corner of the diamond shape with both hands. If you do this, you might want your camera strap around your neck so you don't drop it off the building.

The picture has a lack of sharpness due to supporting it this way. I almost didn't publish the photo because it is a bit fuzzy. I think I exposed for 10 seconds at F8. I only took three or four shots that night. I should have taken 15 or 20 and I would have had a better chance to get a really good one. I don't get up there often.

I found the following on the Official Empire State Building Web site in the frequently asked questions section.

"We do not encourage the use of tripods, but there is a form you can complete if you want to use a tripod. The form will be given to you when you arrive."

Unless you can place your tripod very close to the wire, the wire might interfere with your images. It might be a good idea to bring a small and large tripod. Better yet, a device that would clamp to the fence posts and support you camera. Thanks for writing and if you want to see more of my images check out Saugus Photos Online or my folder at

5/10/01 Q: Hello Jim
I ran across your site accidentally.
Can't believe I'm even writing to you.
It's just that I really liked the advice I've seen you give to other people!
You sound like a very wise man.
I have a sixteen year old daughter who has really started acting up! She's a
good child all in all, but she seems to have NO respect for me whatsoever
anymore. We used to be so very close. 3 1/2 years ago one of my other
daughters took my 5 year old to a country fair. She begged me to let her take
her. So I did.. On the way back to the house they were in a horrible car
crash. The girl that was driving was responsible, not my daughter. My sweet
little 5 year old was killed.
Now my sixteen year old treats me like I'm nothing to her. I've tried to get
her into counseling, but she refuses to go. And I'm sure I'd be arrested if I
bodily threw her into the car to make her go!
Do you have any suggestions? I know she loves me. She's just torn apart. And
I wasn't much of a Mom to her or any of my daughters after my baby's death.
Not for at least a year. I also had to take care of my daughter who was
involved in the wreck. She was in a hospital bed in our home for about 2
months. So I didn't have much time for my other children. All I could do was
cry. I know I let all of them down horribly. I don't know how to make up for
it. I still cry, but now I try to hide it from everyone.
If you have any suggestions, they would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you.

A: Please understand that I am not trained in dealing with things like this. I advise you to seek the assistance of people who have experience helping with these matters.

I can not imagine the horror, pain and trauma of losing a child. Eric Clapton lost a young son in an accident. He wrote a song called "Tears in Heaven." I did not loose a child and just those lyrics can bring me to tears. You did loose a child. If anyone has a right to cry, it's you. It's unfortunate that you need to hide your tears. Seems to me that sharing your grief with people who care about you would be helpful. I found a Web page where people shared their loss of loved ones via the Internet. I'm not suggesting that would be the best route for you. There must be lots of resources available for grief counseling and parental support. Have you taken advantage of any? It couldn't hurt and it's not too late.

You said, "I know I let all of them down horribly. I don't know how to make up for it." Maybe there is no need to make up for it. You certainly can do things to improve your relationship with your children. You can start by forgiving yourself.

Is it possible that she blames you for your death of her sister? Do you blame yourself?

It might help to make plans to spend time with the 16 year old, maybe a weekend away, just the two of you. Repairing a damaged relationship takes creativity and continued effort. If you make it your first priority, you should see results. Keep in mind that sixteen can be a difficult age... even when things are going good! If readers write with more advice for you, I'll post it here. I had hoped to write a more profound reply but this is the best I can do. Thanks for writing.




The following was submitted by a reader as follow-up.




Jim, in response to the woman who didn't know how to deal with her 16 yr old's acting out after the death of her 5 yr old, I'm not a psychologist but I've had training in counseling and I have a bachelor's in social work. I worked in Human Services for 8 years, several years in a Crisis Stabilization Program and later as a Program Director in a residence for mentally ill adults.
It sounds to me like the mother's guilt (for what she feels she couldn't give her kids after the death of the 5 yr old) is keeping her from dealing fully with her grief and from helping her children deal with their grief. Often when there is a death in the family, children (both younger and older) become very sensitive to the moods of parents. A father isn't mentioned, so if she's a single parent, the focus on her as the only parent would be intense.

It's common for children to refrain from mentioning any problems they may be having in dealing with a tragedy of this sort, in order to spare their mother any more pain. When parents don't open up verbally, kids revert to the senses they used when they were babies, much more readily than we do as adults. They hone in on the non-verbal clues and act accordingly. I would venture to say that a whole lot needs to be brought out into the open by ALL members of that family, not just the 16 year old, and it needs to be done as a group. They need to be able to share their feelings with each other before they can function as a family unit again. Family counseling may be less threatening because it signals that the mother recognizes that they all shared that loss and they all need to find a way to heal and move to a healthier place.

Q:Hi Jim,
A friend of mine and I were recently discussing roadside diners in the area, and were trying to remember the exact location of the Monarch Diner. I'm thinking that it was either on Rt. 1 southbound, near the miniature golf course & batting cages, or near the Blue Star Bar. I know that when I used to drive for the old Saugus Yellow Cab, we used to pick up passengers there. Although my friend is a life-long resident of Saugus, I have lived out of state for nearly 11 years, only able to visit on occasion.

Thank you for this website, which I think is great! --and for the opportunity to ask you our question.

Sincerely, Bill Foster

A: There may have been a Puritan Diner in the area. Check out: Found this page searching for "Monarch Diner".

After mentioning your question to a longtime Saugus resident, I was told there was a Monarch Diner in town.

Relationship Advice

Q:Hi Jim,
My name is **** *******, 16 years old, and I've been going out with my boyfriend for almost 2 years. He moved away for two months to Missouri, and now he's back. For some reason we're not as close ya know. He seems to be to busy for me, and doesn't ever call me as much. Were really tight, and love each other VERY much. When I'm with him, I'm complete, and when I'm not, I'm empty, and for the last couple of days I've felt empty inside. I get jealous when he's out with his friends, or he talks to other girls, but who wouldn't knowing that all the girls wish they could have him. I don't know what to do. I love him sooo much, and I don't want to lose him, but it always seems like I work hard to save out relationship, and he just waits there to see what happens. I'm tired of waiting around for when its convenient for him to come around, what do you think I should do???? Thanks for your time, and if you don't reply, I totally understand.
Thanks a bunch

A: Don't wait around for him. Move forward with your life. The more adaptable you become, the better off you'll be. Change provides an opportunity to grow. Understand that your happiness and sense of well being should not hinge upon the acceptance of other people. Especially this guy who "all the girls wish they could have." At 16, you are young and still unfolding. Don't limit yourself. You have your youth, health and much to be thankful for. We're only provided with one trip through this life. Make the best of it.

Relationship Advice

Q: 2/4/01
Jim, I am 15 and I have been going out with a 14 year old girl for about 2
months. I do everything I can to show her how much I love her and I really
do love her... I have written her poems, sent her roses, etc... everything
I can think of. Do you have any suggestions on what I could do or say to her
to show her I love her? I would like all of your ideas. Thank you very
much. Sean

A: OK Sean, More than anything else, show her and the rest of the world patience. The American Heritage® Dictionary says "patient" is:
"1. Bearing or enduring pain, difficulty, provocation, or annoyance with calmness."
"5.Capable of calmly awaiting an outcome or result; not hasty or impulsive."

If we could accomplish that, most everything else should fall into place.

It's possible that if you have lots of patience she won't like you. But then, you'll be better off.

Sean, your attitude and actions speak louder than poems or flowers.

Q: 1/15/01
Hi, Two years ago (1999) my family moved to New Zealand from South Africa, and here we met another family that came from South Africa that came here the same time as us. They had a daughter, the same age as me, which I didn't give much attention to in the beginning. We sort of became friends later on that year. The following year (2000) she start going out with a kiwi guy and that's when I started liking her, I told her how much I liked her and it came out that she has liked me ever since the year before. While she was still going out with this guy we did spend a lot of time together and she even kissed me one day. When the day came that she left the guy she told me she just wants to be friends and that she doesn't want to commit herself now to a relationship. Thats where I felt that spending all this time with her I bored her with my presence. I asked her what was going to happen and that shes going to have to make her mind. We didnt speak for a while, but after that everything went back and were still friends, but even now she doesnt even pay a lot of attention to me. She use to want to go bike riding in the mornings and now she hardly ever calls. She seems sad sometimes and I wish I can help her and be the one there for her.

What can I do to make her find her interest in me again like the first year and give me a chance to have a relationship with her? I really like her and I want her to feel about me like she did and not be subdued like she is now. I hope you can help me, please.


A: That one kiss she gave you got you all stirred up Fred. Let's get right to the point. There is NOTHING you can do to make her want to be your girlfriend...sorry if I sound harsh. The more you want (or need) her, the less attractive you'll be. Feelings she had a while back are gone. If you waste too much time wanting her, you might regret it later. Whatever you do, don't go to extremes to convince her to be your girlfriend. Don't become a stalker. Rejection hurts but you have the power within you to overcome that hurt. Avoid becoming angry at her or feeling sorry for yourself.

When I was about 14 or 15, there was a girl we hung out with who I liked for a long time. She was always going out with someone else and never had a romantic interest in me but we were friends. Occasionally, when her boyfriend wasn't around, and she was ready to go home she'd ask, "Who wants to walk me home?" I would be willing. To her, I was just a good friend. But was crazy about her.

There were other girls around at the time who did have a romantic interest in me but I barely noticed. I wish someone had been there to tell me, "Hey Jim, wake up! Don't spend all your time chasing Leslie. Take note of those more available girls."

So Frederick, my advice to you is keep your eyes open wide so that you won't miss opportunities with other girls as they become available. Certainly, this is not the advice you wanted but it's the best I can do based on my experience. Thanks for writing and good luck.

Follow up: Hi Jim

I just want to thank you for your advice, it really meant a lot to me and I shall follow it - thank you very much.

Kind Regards Frederick

Q: Dear Jim,
I am a single mom of a beautiful 4 year old girl, she is my whole life. When her father and I were together he was the one that was so excited about having a little baby, I on the other hand wasn't I had my whole life ahead of me still, I wasn't ready to be a mom. But I became one real fast and now I wouldn't take that back for anything. But when My daughter was a year and a half old her father and I broke up, at first she was to young for it to bother her. Her dad still saw her every once in a while and he also gave me child support every once in a while.

Then I don't know what happened we started hearing from him less and less, and stopped receiving money. The moral of the story is my four year old is devastated and hurt by what her father has done to her. He doesn't even care, he never sees her any more, he doesn't call her he basically has disowned her. My daughter cries about her daddy every day wanting to see him, at night she looks at pictures of him and listens to Butterfly Kisses. She asks me why he doesn't love her or want to see her. She thinks it is my fault she doesn't see him, for the simple fact that he has made her believe that. When its not me I wanted my daughter to have a father I never tried to keep them a part. I don't know what to do I can't make him see her or love her and yet I can't make her understand. He screws with her head he calls maybe at the most every 4 months and makes her promises he doesn't keep and makes her love him even more each time. How can anybody be so cruel, for a person that couldn't wait to have a baby where is he now? How do I make my daughter see that this is not her fault, or mine and that it is his loss not hers. She is even starting to have behavioral problems because of it now that she is getting older.

Anyways I'm sure you get the idea. Can you please help me to help my daughter deal with not having a father around. Any books that would help or web sites would also be greatly appreciated. Hope you can help.

A: A disappointing father can be devastating, especially for a young girl. I'm am not trained in dealing with troubled children and I cannot offer advice on how to help her deal with this. If she seems depressed, maybe you should seek the help of a family counselor. Look in your local telephone book.

It's important for your daughter's well being that you deal with her fathers irresponsibility in a proper way. The way you react to this man will certainly affect the way she feels. The tone of your message seems to indicate that you are angry and resentful. If you could learn to overcome those feelings it would help both you and your daughter. "Resentment is a cup of poison you pour for someone else but you drink it yourself." (I'm not sure of the origin of that quote. I'll put credit here if anyone knows its source.)

Here are a few things you might consider doing:

    • Make sure the guy knows how much his daughter wants to be with him.
    • Give your daughter her father's phone number so she can call him.
    • Try to help facilitate the two of them spending time together.
    • Assure that this man is forced to consistently pay adequate child support.
    • Don't blame all of your daughter's problems on what her father fails to do.
    • Stay aware of the attitude you project about this man, your daughter is learning from you!

Q: Dear Jim,
I've just come across your site and I must say I'm impressed with the advice
you give. Basically, my question is, how can I get my boyfriend of over 3
years back. It's been 6 months since we broke up, and I've spent most of
that time convincing myself that we weren't meant to be together. However, I
am over that stage now and have regained a sense of emotional stability. I
just feel very strongly that we should at least give it another try.
Unfortunately, the few times that I have spoken with him since our breakup,
he's seemed cold and distant. I know the man that loved me dearly is still
in there somewhere, I just need to know how to get him back. I am not
without my own ideas of how to approach this situation. However, they're
more like games than sincere approaches.
It just makes me upset because when a guy wants his girl back, he is
encouraged to just go and get her. However, when a girl wants her man back,
she's considered weak and is not encouraged to make any effort in getting him
back. I've been reading a lot of Cosmo and Glamour, but all that is
superficial advice. I feel I need honest advice from a man's point of view.
Just to give you a little more background, my ex and I had a healthy
relationship. He's a very focused and driven individual. I realize he needs time, but
I also can't just sit around waiting for him to contact me. I feel as though
I should make a move. However, it can't be a move that would scare him even
further away. If you were in this situation, is there anything a woman could
do to persuade you to come back to her?
I apologize for this lengthy approach at getting some advice, but I just felt
as though enough information should be supplied in order to make an informed
decision in terms of what advice would apply to this particular situation.

A: OK, you say you want to make a move to get your man back but don't want to drive him further off. Send him a postcard, (preferably postmarked from an exotic location) not a letter. Make it very brief with only two or three sentences. State only facts. Be sure to exclude any emotion. It could read something like, "Dear John, Enjoyed the time we had together and would like us to be together again. If it's not possible, that's OK. I promise I won't bother you again. Sincerely, Sue." He might throw the postcard in the trash or he might tack it to a bulletin board for future reference. Who knows?

A more worthwhile goal would be to strive to be OK without him.

What good would your relationship be if you have to convince him to get back together with you? You said he is driven and focused. What is he focused on? Are you attracted to his ambition? I would not want to be described as driven. Cars and nails should be driven, not people.

After getting to know a few more men, odds are very good that you'll find some who is a much better partner for you than this guy could ever be. Have faith!

Q: Jim,
I'm 16 and my boyfriend is 19 we have been together for about 3
months and we really care A LOT about each other. I have 2 questions for you
and hopefully you can answer them. First of all, What should I get Shawn for Christmas?
He is really into motorcycles and four wheelers and stuff like that. He has a 1996 Lowrider
truck. I hope that is enough information about him to help you help me.
Secondly, like I said we both really care a lot about each other but we
are both scared that we are gonna lose the other. Why are we scared and
what should we do to help it? Please Help!

Q: To answer your first question I'll use the same answer I used further down on this page. "I suggest you make something or customize a gift with your own hands. Consider a crafts project or a collage. If you buy him a gift, you could customize it to give it a more personal touch. Whatever he gets, don't worry about it. Don't try too hard to please him. If he's a smart guy, the gifts you give or don't give him won't change his opinion of you."

Now for the second question about being scared of losing each other. Could it be that you've become too dependent on each other and lack self-confidence? Don't spend so much time with each other. I'll bet both of you spend very little time with other friends. Relationships work best when each person has the capacity to stand alone, firmly on his or her own two feet, without an inordinate need for the other.

It might work out well if you do lose each other. People's values often change considerably as they age through their 20's. Someone who you think is wonderful when you're 16 might seem not so great if your values change as you mature.

Q: I have an old Pentium 200, and also I a Pentium II 400, and I was wondering how I can transfer data from my old computer onto my new computer's hard drive?
cheers gizz

A: There are a few ways. You could network the computers together (which might not be worth it) or transfer the smaller files via floppy disk. If you have a CD-RW drive you could use that by switching it between machines.

Address books, e-mail, Bookmarks/Favorites, buddy lists etc. in Netscape and Microsoft Outlook Express can be transferred using the import/ export utilities. They can be found by clicking file then import or export. E-mail address books for example can be saved to a floppy disk as a .csv file and then imported into a different e-mail program.

Another option, set up the hard drive from the old computer in the new computer as a slave drive then copy the files to the new drive. If you've got a ton of data to transfer this could be your best option. If you do this, don't even try to run programs on the slave drive that were installed on it prior to the switch. Those programs are configured to run from the operating system on the slave drive and your system will be running from the operating system on the master drive.

Q: We just got a pontiac sunbird 2000 4 cyl. 1.8L engine, 84 model , and when
we drive in town it's fine, but when we get on the highway where the speed
limit is faster when go to slow down the transmission does not shift down and
the car jerks and dies. then when we crank it again to put it in drive, as
soon as it hits reverse gear it jerks and dies. what do you think the problem
might be?

A: The car is 17 years old. Junk it!

Q: Hi Jim...I'm 42 years old with 2 children ages 12 & 13. I met ***** 2 + years ago and
we fell in love. He is so kind with a huge heart and makes me happy in so
many ways but...he is an alcoholic. I've "disciplined" him, so to speak into
changing some of his drinking habits and although it has improved, he tries
to "get away with it whenever possible". He has been on disability due to an
injury that occurred 7 years ago. He is able to work and has been given
opportunities through State Funded Programs but he continues to procrastinate to
the point where I feel he just doesn't want to work and that it's never going
to happen. Although he talks about how much he hates NOT having a job, he
does nothing to change. He's his own worst enemy, he sits around and thinks
and dwells to the point incapacitation. He is 37 years old. He lives with
his mom and brother but stays with me all the time. His disability is not
enough to pay much of anything and he DOES NOT NEED TO BE ON IT! How can I
tell him to go back home and when he gets on his own two feet to give me a
call without sending him back into a drunk who has no hopes or dreams at all.
I keep thinking he is right on the edge of pulling it together... but I've
thought that for over a year. He says that if I wasn't there to stand
behind him, he couldn't do anything. HELP! I love him but I need my guy to
love me enough to help support me. I own my own home, have been working as
an office manager for 18 years and I've always worked hard. I'm beginning to
think this is hopeless and I resent him for doing this to us. Please give me
any advise you can!

A: My advice here is likely to make you angry. That's OK. Of course it's only my opinion and others are welcome to write with theirs.

You and his mother are part of the problem because you enable him to live the way he does. Why on earth should this man go to a job everyday when he doesn't have to? He has you and his mother to provide a roof over his head, food, clean laundry and God knows what else. The "discipline" you try to bestow on him will not make him a better man. Self-discipline is what he needs and you can't give him that. It's not your job to prevent him from drinking or to make him go to work. It's a waste of time trying to mold him (or anyone else) into someone he's not. That will only cause you anguish and make him even less responsible.

You say you "resent him for doing this to us." It's you who's doing it to yourself and your kids. People like him won't become self-reliant while they have people like you to sustain them. Are you a giver? Is he is a taker? If so, you fit together. Either accept him the way he is or give him the boot.


Q: Hello Jim I am a 18 year old female in her first semester of college. The problem is
my parents. My parents don't let me do anything or go anywhere
without them knowing. I know that they are scared that their "little girl" is
growing up but can't I have my own life? It's not that I don't respect their
house and the rules it is just I'm tired of having to "report" my every move
to someone. Most of my friends have their own apartments or even houses.
I know I'm just 18 and still growing up but I just wish I had my own
Should I just try to tough it out until I am a little bit older? I consider
myself pretty responsible all ready. I've learned from my brothers and even
my friends mistakes.
Do you think I would be ready to move out? If I did move out I am afraid my
parents would not let me have my truck, based on the fact that they are
paying for it right now. Even if I stay at home I would still have to pay for
my college. And yes going to college is what I want to do ( to be a
veterinarian) Thank bunch, Leslie

A: You might be ready to move out but can you afford it? Supporting yourself can easily exceed $1000 per month. Think about it, food, shelter, clothing, utilities, blah, blah, blah. Not to mention the cost of college and... a truck.

While you remain at your parents house, save your money. Did you hear me? Save your money! Many apartment landlords require first and last months rent plus a security deposit before you move in. That could be nearly $2000. A down payment on a house could could be ten times that amount.

Q: Dear Jim,
My husband, my two daughters and I were recently at a Halloween party given
by my nine year old daughter's best friend's parents. While there, the
mother of my daughter's friend was hiding behind a wall and disguising her
voice as part of a game we were playing. Actually, she was playing the part
of an alien, speaking into a microphone which made her voice sound like an
alien. She kept us there for awhile asking questions and my husband was
doing most of the responding. At one point, she made the comment something
about him being a handsome man, and said "you're staying with me." I feel
that she completely crossed the line with me and I am furious at her. I
don't know if I should say something to her because I know it will cause a
strain between us and I don't want my daughter's relationship with her best
friend to be affected. I can't seem to let go of the anger. She made a
comment that she had a lot to drink to my husband but I know darn well that
true feelings tend to come out when you're drinking. I would appreciate if
you could give me advice on what to do about this. Thank you very much.

A: Forget about it!


Relationship Advice 10/31/00
Q: Dear Jim,
Hello. I have been dating the same guy for almost 3 years now. First 2 years of our relationship
was wonderful and we were inseparable. However, in the past about 8 months or
so, things have really taken a turn, and for me for the worst for our relationship.

He also to me can not be trusted as he once was. He quite often
makes promises he cannot keep and says he will do things to help out around
the house or just in general and more often than not, I am always left to do

I have spoken to him on all of my concerns, with no hope of
improvement it seems, so I then have several times asked him to move out, and
he seems to not take me seriously and then days and weeks go on as if I never
mentioned it. He is this way when we have an argument as well. Thank You.

A: How 'bout you move out? I've never been an advocate of the live in relationship. It's my opinion that they thwart commitment. Some guys might think, " why buy the cow when I can live in the cow's barn?" No offense intended ladies!

Think twice next time.

Certainly there'll be folks who'll disagree with me. If any write, I'll post it here. You deserve more than one opinion so hopefully others will write to share their views.

Q: Jim,
I am seventeen, on the verge of eighteen years old. I have been
fortunate enough to take the greatest girl on earth to my Senior Homecoming.
She is perfect in every way and drops mouths when she walks down the halls at
school. Although she tells others we are only good friends, she is at my
house every night and we spend a lot of time together. She acts as though she
wants to be more than just good friends and is constantly giving me cards to
brighten my day, but insists on telling everyone there is nothing there. I
want to express my feelings to her but fear what it will do to our friendship
if, in fact, that is all we have anyway. Although I have tried to read her
mind and call her shots, I have found it to be impossible. It is in your
hands now Jim. Please stop this confusion!

A: Only you can stop the confusion. You sound overwhelmed by her good looks. Maybe she's overwhelmed by the dropping mouths and doesn't want to commit herself to anyone.

If she's a good friend, don't mess it up by "expressing your feelings." Be patient. Chances are she already knows how you feel. Sometimes people don't want things that can be too easily had. Be her friend but try not to need her. That gives her too much power over you. Trying to read her mind and call her shots will only amplify your confusion. Take your blinders off. Keep your eyes open and make time for someone who's not so "perfect." If she finds someone else with whom she does want more than friendship, it's likely you'd be hurt or angry and she's not worth it. Maybe she has romantic interest in you, maybe she doesn't! Don't let her string you along forever on a hook. Nobody wants a fish.

Q: Hi Jim,
I have a question regarding resolution and using my scanner.... Thanks! From Scottsdale, AZ

A: Visit

Q: Jim,
I have a five-year-old son and in the last month and a half, he has
become very hateful and defiant. He was the sweetest little boy and all of a
sudden, he changed. Nothing I seem to do helps. I really don't know what
else to do.

I try calling his father but he doesn't return any of my phone calls.
My son is telling me that he hates me at least three times a day and that
breaks my heart. Last night, he actually told me that he wanted to die and
that he hated his life. I didn't know what to say to that.

All I seem to be doing anymore is yelling at him and punishing him. But
that still does not work. He tells me he doesn't care what I do.
If you could tell me what to do that will work, it would be very
appreciated. Thank you,****

A: Yours is a tough question and you've given me very little to go on. It seems that if your child had been happy and content up until a month and a half ago, something traumatic may have happened to him to cause the sudden change. What big changes have there been in his/your life recently?

Children sometimes reflect the emotions and attitudes of the significant people in there lives. Is there anyone close to him who is hateful, defiant or unhappy with their life? Has there been a lot of conflict between you and the child's father?

Your son needs you and his father to be his friends, not just disciplinarians. If you find that all you're doing is yelling at him and punishing him, he must think you don't like him. Do you make plenty of time to play with him on his level and give him your undivided attention?

It seems to me that children who don't get enough attention from their parents will sometimes do things just to piss people off...because they get attention that way. A child would rather be yelled at, than be ignored.

It has been said that if you want to change your children, you'll need to change yourself. You should seek counsel from someone trained in dealing with problems like this.

Q: Hi Jim
I'm getting along in years and would like to know how to check out
real-estate in other parts of the country. I'm thinking of retiring soon.
Is there a web site that I could go to? Jerry


Q: Thank you Jim for any advice you may have to offer me!

How do you do. I'm the mother of two adolescent daughters. One 15, and
one 12. I'm separated, and am very much in love with a man who lives way
across the country from us, who also is very IN love with me.

I have never written anyone for advice before in my life. But, I am at
such a total loss of what to do I have broken down and decided to
confide in you....

My concern is this...

***** and I met over here where I live over a year ago, we plan to marry
eventually and want to reside where HE'S living now, way across the
country. We are so tired of having this long distance relationship, and
want to be together so badly. We have decided that the children and I
would move with him for the starting of the next school year which would
be for September 2001.

However, my daughters do NOT want to move way over there. They despise
the mere thought of it. They love their lives here and are so totally
against moving! This breaks MY heart! And every time the subject of
moving comes up they are heartbroken, they are in full tears, and are
just so unhappy and firmly against the move! They say that they would
rather die than move so far away from home! I am so torn up about all
of this.

I love my daughters, they're my whole life! I'm also so very IN love for
the first time in my life with the most wonderful, loving man in the
world. Because of my love's work and other important reasons, it would
be simply out of the question for him to move here with us. There is
nothing stopping us from moving there with him, actually I want to move,
but such is not the case with my two daughter's.

I am so upset about all of this. I am at a total loss here. I am at your
mercy!!! I do not know what to do! Can you help me??? I would so
appreciate any advice you may have to offer, or anyone else for that
matter on this situation. I know you are probably so swamped with e-mails
to write, but I sure hope you find the time to share your advice and
opinions with me! Thank you.
Sincerely yours, **** *******

A: To me, your most important sentence was, "I love my daughters, they're my whole life!"

Their statement that they would rather die than go is also a very serious matter.

My first thought is that you should do what's in the best interest of your children. I suspect you feel the same, otherwise you would have made your decision and would not be asking me for advice.

Things to consider:

  • Do your kids have a relationship with their father and will moving across the country diminish it?
  • If your children are against the move, will that make it difficult for them to accept this man you plan to marry?
  • This man loves you but does he love your children? Does he know them?
  • Decide which is more important over the long run, your children's needs or yours.
  • In a few very short years, your daughters will be striking out on their own.

You asked me to share my opinions and my reply has been just that, opinion. As stated above, please don't make major decisions based entirely on my advice. You requested the advice or opinions of readers. If any people write with words about your question or my reply I'll post it here.

A viewer wrote with this to say about your situation:

Stay! You stated the most important issue....our children's life isn't
something we get a second chance say they are the most you must show them....even if that means sacrificing. Your
children are for however long your gifted with them....a
relationship......???????who knows! You may lose your children to anger and
rebellion if you do something they are not comfortable with....hey, if he
loves you so much, he should be concerned about this...let him move...or
forget him.

Q: Hi I'm looking for an aerial photo of Hobbs Pond in Hope, Maine any ideas where I can get one??? thanks,

A: How about a satellite photo of Hobbs Pond? Use the zoom buttons at the top of the picture and the navigation arrows around the picture to find the spot you want. To find the pond I did a search for "Hope, Maine" in the "Find a specific place" box at Terraserver. You must use a comma between the city and state name. Thanks for writing.

Q: Hi Jim
I have a fully manual SLR camera and my question is:
How does one photograph say a stream and get the water to appear blurred
like fog and the rest of the scene is normal ? I really think these type of
pictures are cool and I would like to know how to do it.

A: Mount your camera on a tripod and select a shutter speed of 1/4 or slower. Experiment. One or two seconds should get you the effect you're looking for. In bright daylight (especially with fast film) those slow shutter speeds might cause over exposure. Waiting for the sun to go down or shooting in areas of heavy shade or on overcast days can help.



Q: Dear Jim,

I saw the picture of Malden, MA on your site. That picture is awesome!
The way the light looks like beams is amazing. How did you do that?


A: Thank you for the compliment on my picture. To make that image I used a tripod and opened the shutter for a few seconds. Before closing the shutter I slowly tilted the camera toward the ground which caused the lights in the picture to streak to the top of the frame. The ground beneath the camera was dark and therefore had no effect.

Q: Thanks in advance for any advice Jim!

I am the parent of a 13 year old boy. He has started to show signs of being a
true teenager lately! When he got home from school today, he asked if I had
taped a favorite program of his. I said I didn't because he did not provide
me with a tape to record on. He proceeded to lock himself in his room. He
said he didn't want supper and didn't want to talk to me. My question is,
should I have forced the issue and made him eat supper with the rest of the
family or let him cool off?

A: First, allow me to say thanks for saying "Thanks".

Yep, it seems letting him sit this one out was the right choice. I've been told you've got to pick your battles when it comes to kids. If we force our kids conform to our every command we'd be fighting much to often and friendship can quickly vanish. Some things just aren't worth fighting about. My Father often said "You've got to be flexible." That makes sense because inflexible things sometimes snap.

Missing a meal is a choice we ought to afford a 13 year old&occasionally. He certainly won't starve. We all know he'll be searching for snack later on.

There's a book called "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff--and it's All Small Stuff ". We've got a copy of it kicking around here someplace. I'll never find it but who cares?

Q: Jim,

My fiance' and I broke up on Sat.(two days ago) and I miss him dearly.
What happened was we were in an argument; and I wanted to see for once what
would happen if I didn't hold my tongue so I didn't and the words "Take your
stuff and get out" came flying out of my mouth. He took me seriously and
moved out and is not speaking to me. I am always meek and never voice my
opinions(at least not in anger) and now that I have I am deeply regretting
it, I have told him this but he will not come back nor speak to me. He
talks to our mutual friends and tells them in the same conversation that he
doesn't know whether he want to be with me or not and 10 mins later will say
that he doesn't want to be with me again. We have done this 3 times before
except it has always been him leaving me. He always comes back. I'm just
not sure if he will this time and that worries me. He left a lot of his
favorite things at the house.(His favorite ashtrays and jewelry as well as
some clothes) and says that he still loves me and hopes to be my friend,
does this sound to you like he might come back? We've been together for
11/2 years.

A: What man, of sound mind, would leave behind his beloved ashtrays? He'll be back. By the way, have you set a date for the wedding?

All rude sarcasm aside, you said the words came flying out of your mouth, as if you had no control over it. Could it be that you hold your tongue too often? Somehow, you'll need to learn to speak your mind before anger pops the cork. Being meek and never voicing your opinions can cause you to fit together with people who'll take advantage of you.

Good luck and thanks for writing.

Q: My father and I was just wondering how do you turn a negative photo into a
larger size? We just don't see how it is possible to turn a small photo into
something of larger sizes. I was just watching a show on the history channel and we
was just wondering how film is exposed. I really don't know how to put my
question into words. Thank you.

A: Light is projected through the negative. The negative casts it's shadow onto light sensitive photographic paper. The further away the photographic paper is from the negative, the larger the shadows and resulting print.

Visit this page at for more information.

Q: I am 30 years old. I am in love with a man that is married. I feel when we are together that he loves me too. He never says it, but he looks at me like he really wants to say it, but doesn't. How do I find out if he is? He does not open his feeling very easy.

A: Ask him, not Jim.

4/6/00 Q: Where can I get a manual on computer parts. I want to know what each
part does. A online or reg. book.

A: Give this page a try courtesy of How Stuff

Relationship Advice

4/4/00 Q: I am 16 and in love with the greatest person I could have ever met we have known each other for about three years and have been seeing each other for a while. I'm in love with him and he is in love with me. He is 18 by the way. The problem is, is that he is married and has a child. Him and his wife are separated now. But I'm worried that once a cheater always a cheater and that someday he might cheat on me :( ! I Love him with all my heart and god knows I would do anything for him. Do you think that my love for him could change that and make him not decide to cheat or do you think once a cheater always a cheater? Please Help me it worries me a lot.

A: To specifically address your question, " Do you think that my love for him could change that and make him not decide to cheat...?" In my opinion, when dishonorable person is supported and worshiped, they are likely to become even more dishonorable. In other words, your love for him and willingness to "do anything for him" will not mold him into a better person and might do just the opposite.

3/29/00 Q: Dear Jim, My friend thinks her next door neighbor is scanning her phone. I wanted to know if there is a way to find out if they really are scanning her. Thank you for your time.

A: While on her cordless phone she could try saying something like this. "I'm looking out my window and there's someone breaking into my next door neighbor's car!" If the neighbor snaps on the porch light and comes heading for the car with rifle in hand, that could be a clue.

All cordless telephones can be easily monitored with the right equipment. Even spread spectrum or voice scrambling telephones are subject to eavesdropping. Cordless phone users should be aware that their neighbors and passing motorists up to 1/2 mile away could be listening in. Sensitive information (credit card numbers, dirty secrets etc.) should never be divulged on any cordless telephone including cell phones.

3/21/00 Q: Thanks for the site Jim :) I slammed the sliding door on my 1993 Ford Aerostar mini van and can't get it open. I unbolted all the bolts I could see and the thing still wouldn't budge. Any ideas?

A: Check inside the door for a rod that runs from the release lever to the release mechanism. The rod might be disconnected. Good luck. Write back when you get the door open.

Follow-Up: Jim, Thank you for your help. I followed your advice and reached in, found the rod, moved it around and presto, the door opened. I then took the opportunity to explain to my seven year old son how not giving up and having patience can pay off. John

3/18/00 Q: Dear Jim,
I am a 33 year old mother of one. He is seventeen. His father was killed when he was 4. I have never married. I have been with the same man for the last ten years. We never lived together but our love and relationship was good. It has been 2 months since he left me for something or someone else. He is turning forty this year and has a problem with that. My question for you is how do I go on with my life? I know people lose family and friends to death and there are separations and divorces. I am grieving this like it were a death. I don't know what to do. I feel ugly, lonely and empty. I can't force myself to get out of bed a lot. I have a very good job but haven't been there much lately. I love this man more than I ever thought I could love anyone except my son. My family has been there for me but they are getting tired of the crying and feeling sorry for myself. Can you give me some words of wisdom that I can think of each day just to get by that day? I am grateful for what I have but it doesn't replace this emptiness that won't subside. Thank you for any advice you or the other readers can give.

A: I have no training in this area so please, if you find yourself in a downward spiral and severely depressed, get help from a professional.

You said, "I can't force myself to get out of bed a lot." For you to recover from the hurt, anger and emptiness you feel, you'll need stay out of bed unless you're sleeping. I suspect you're choosing to stay in bed, where it's comfortable.

The key is deciding what you really want. Do you want your boyfriend back and have everything just like it was or do you want to get over this and become a stronger, more independent, self-reliant person? If your answer is that you want your boyfriend back, I can't help you.

It might help to make plans to do something fun with your son. Have you been on a vacation lately? If you have something to look forward to, something which removes you from your daily routine, that might help you to start recovering. Do you have any hobbies? Get outdoors and be active. Exercise and sunshine has been reported to help depression. Take walks. Plant a garden. Offer to help someone else who is troubled. Your son perhaps. He needs you to be stable and happy more than you need your boyfriend back.

If you dwell on the things or conditions you don't have, you'll stay despondent. Your family is tired of you feeling sorry for yourself. Are you tired of it? Often times people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. You must make a conscious and continuous effort to improve your outlook. That power is within you. Reclaim it!

If readers write me with advice for you, I'll post it here.

Follow-up: Dear Jim, A word to your 33yo. Ditto on your excellent advice especially about spending time with her son. A word of encouragement --- After several disappointing love affairs and a failed marriage, I had the most romantic and fulfilling relationship of my life at age 42!! Hang in there one day at a time. Your Big sister, age 50

Follow-up: Dear Jim, Thank you and your readers for the advice. I will try one day at a time to do it. You have made some very interesting and helpful points. I will get back with you in a couple of weeks to let you know how well I am doing. Thank you again.

3/12/00 Follow-up: Dear Jim, How'd you get so smart? I have read all of the questions and comments on Ask Jim, to date. (I am new to the Internet). I am blown away by your no-nonsense answers and your wit. I shudder to think of all the money and and time I have spent getting professional advise, when my own little brother has such insights. I can only think that somehow you have missed your calling, but then again the Lord works in mysterious ways. I am proud to be in the same family as you because our family values and traditions shine through in your answers and comments. I hope you keep up with this remarkable contribution to your readers. I'm sure you will continue to bring a smile to my face and a tear to my eye. Love, Your Sister, Cilla

3/11/00 Q: Jim, I have 2 questions one is about my computer. I cannot get it to open Win 98. I got a message that some of config.sys files are corrupted. Can I copy these files from my CD back onto the hard drive or what?

Also, I am separated from my husband, I am 38 and my husband is 39 last year we were having some serious problems in our marriage and had been separated for 2 days when he took a 20 year old girl to our home to spend the night with. Now he wants to work things out but I am so hurt and my self-confidence is shattered. I am not bad looking and have been told often that I look a lot younger than I am. I recently met someone who that would like to be more than friends we both know the others situations and neither one of us wants to enter into anything long term or serious, but physically we are attracted. I sure could use a boost to myself esteem, but he is only 31. Help me, I don't know what to do. No Confidence

A: On the first config.sys question, I don't know the answer.

The second question, I don't know what you should do either. I can only offer a few things to consider.

Sure, it might make you feel better (at least temporarily) if you get together with this 31-year-old guy. Will you do it only to boost your self-esteem and get revenge at your husband? Do those seem like good reasons to you? Decide if your marriage is worth saving before making your decision.

3/1/00 Q: How can you get a child to clean her room at the age of 13? She doesn't
think it is important because nobody sees it. When she wants to do something
she can't because her room is not clean? I want to turn this around so she
see the value of keeping a clean room. Thanks, Kathy

A: If you waited till she's 13 before asking her to clean up her room, it might be too late. A clean room is the last thing on a 13 year old's mind. Is the rest of the house neat and tidy? Is your room clean?

If you think she's ready to turn a new leaf and keep her room clean, offer to help her once, and make it seem an easy task.

2/21/00 Q: Dear Jim,
I'm in a tough spot right now and I don't even know where to begin. I am 18 and am finishing up my last semester of high school. My parents expect me to live under their wing forever, and I find it too difficult to live at home any more due to the relationship with my family. I would like to move out as soon as I graduate, but my parents have made it clear that they will offer no financial support what-so-ever if I do so. However, if I stay at home then they will let me keep my car and will support my college. They are trying to " Trap " me at home by threatening to take away any and all support if I decide to leave. My mother says I have no responsibility, but yet I've never given them reason to think that. I don't do what most other kids my age do: drink, party, and do drugs. I think that my dad is doing this because I have a serious boyfriend that moved out when he was 17, and he feels that he's influencing me to move out. I will have no support at all if I move out, but I think I would be better off broke and happy than living in my parents wealth and being miserable. I am willing to give everything up to move out because I think I would be better off emotional. This too means that I will have to pay for my own college and expenses. What do you think about the situation? People always say "Do what makes you happy", but is this a wise decision?

A: Your quest for independence and happiness is commendable. But, you want to have your cake and eat it too. Do you have some kind of plan for your life? Maybe your trying to shed off your parents plans for you. Do you even want to attend college? It's not for everybody but it can't hurt.

Determine if you could support yourself if you did move out... "right after High School graduation." What if you move out, can't deal with it, then want to move back in your parents house? Do you think they'll say "sure come on back and we saved the car for ya"? It would be smart to ask about that stuff ahead of time.

You feel your parents are trying to trap you. It could be that you're setting your own trap and don't see it.

Make sure your wings have a few flight feathers before you leap from the nest. It's a long way to the ground!

2/21/00 Q: Hi...I have a computer question. When turning on my daughter's computer (Gateway), a screen appears where you have to type in your password in order to go any further. This prevents anyone from looking at or getting into any
of her documents. I have a Dell computer and can not find this feature
anywhere. Thanks for any help you can give me. Kathy

A: Thanks for writing Kathy. Click start, settings, control panel, double click the passwords icon. The rest is self explanatory. That's for Windows 95, it may be slightly different for 98 or 2000. Some programs like Quicken and MS Office applications for example, offer password protection for individual files.

Follow-up: Thank you for your help recently regarding my computer question. It worked. Your reply was incredibly quick and accurate and I appreciate it. Checked out your website - your photography is wonderful. You must be having a great time with this and be really pleased with it's incredible popularity. I came upon this just by looking for someone to answer my question and now I have added it to my favorites. Thanks again. Kathy

2/20/00 Q: Okay, I got one for you and I promise to take your advice with a grain of
salt. Here goes, we've had this problem with our computer and tried several
things but I'll just start at the beginning. It's a Pentium II and two years
old. We replaced the power source about 6 months ago. A few months after that
this new problem started. The monitor will actually black out for a few
seconds. We can't find anything that we're doing to start it or to stop it.
We've had the video card tested and it's fine. Our computer guy said it may
be the monitor but didn't have a way of checking it. Another computer guy
said it could be the power regulator. Is there a way of checking these things
ourselves. We feel we're getting the run around. If you know of a site that
could help or advice to test, it would be greatly appreciated. There are so
many sites out there, and I've only gone through a few dozen. Thanks, Maggie

A: To check your monitor, let some else who has a computer borrow it for a while. Make sure they use different cords, the power cord and if possible, the one that runs from the video card to the monitor. If the monitor still blacks out on their computer using different cords, then it's the monitor.

I suspect it's one of the cords or the video card might not be making good contact in it's slot on the motherboard. Re-seating the video card might solve the problem. Do so at your own risk.

2/12/00 Q: I am a 28 yr old that is married and have been for 3 yrs. Right now me and my wife are going through a crisis. She says she isn't happy and she feels a lot of her unhappiness is due to her having most of the responsibilities and raising our child, while I work 2 jobs in order to try to save money for a home. She is staying at her moms apartment to sort out things and for me to see what all her responsibilities are. Since I have been working 2 jobs she has been feeling lonely and that she has to much
responsibility. I am so sad right now cause she is not here, and it worries
me that she stays by her self cause a lot of things could happen.
She also says I buy her to much and to me that is just my way of showing
her that I care and that I want to provide for her. I love her with all my
soul and heart. She especially has my heart.... I just don't know what to
do. She told me that she is coming home Monday. Does women go through this
kind of thing or what? Please tell me what to do to rekindle the flame of
love in order to make it stronger. Also I trust her and she told me that
there was no one else, but there is still doubt in the back of my mind.
Please help, Between a rock and a hard place

A: Do you really need to work two jobs? Too much ambition can be worse than not enough. Your wife wants you to spend time with her, not just buy things for her. Do you enjoy being with your wife?

Being a stay at home mother to raise children is often a more demanding and stressful task than going to work for pay. Also, the duties of running a household need to be shared by both partners. If you're at work all the time, when do you have time to be a parent to your child? This response by your wife may be the wake up call you need. Don't let it go unanswered.

2/4/00 Q: The subject is "conjecture". We both know this is an "inference from defective or presumptive evidence" or "a conclusion deduced by surmise or guesswork" (Merrium-Webster). I was wondering how much of a part does conjecture play in the seemingly sound answers you give in your advice column. Please know that this question is not an affront on your character or the integrity of your column. Rick

A: Conjecture does play a part in this page. How much a part? You decide.

1/29/00 Q: I can't find any reference in all my manuals as how to use "Print Screen". Can you help?

A: On a PC running Windows, pressing the print screen key copies the screen as an image to the clipboard. To demonstrate, do the following: Press print screen, open a graphics program, (click start, programs, accessories, paint), from the edit menu select paste. The image will display as a graphics file, you can then save it or print it.

In DOS, the screen will be sent to the printer by holding shift while hitting print screen.

1/27/00 Q: Hi I am currently with this guy. He's 26 and I'm 18. We've been together
for two months now and he is getting an apartment soon. Is it to early to move in with him?

A: In my opinion, yes.

1/27/00 Q: Dear Jim: I'm 18 years old. I have been with the same guy for almost a year now. We are about to move in together. The only problem that I have with him is that he has major mood swings. I can't seem to handle them anymore! I love him to death, but his mood swings are killing the relationship! I don't know what to about them anymore. I usually just them off. Sooner or later he cools down and is in a perfectly good mood. What should I do? Please help! Thanks a million.

A: It's not your responsibility to fix his mood swings. You are mostly responsible for the situations you put yourself into. The more "love" he gets from you, the less likely he is to see his mistakes. You said you can't handle the mood swings and they are killing the relationship. When you move in with him, his mood swings will have an even bigger impact on you.

1/20/00 Q: My name is Stephanie and I am 15. I have been dating this guy for almost 5 months. He is the same age as me. He constantly makes plans with me, but then breaks them over something. He says that he will be home a certain times, or that he is coming over and he never does. Then he says that he forgot. Some people have told me to break up with him, and some people have told me not to. I'm just not sure. I really like him, but I am not sure what to do. Please help me...Thank you, Stephanie

A: You cannot control the way he is. Hopefully, you can control the way you react to his inconsiderate actions. Try not to let your happiness hinge on what he does or doesn't do. Don't need him so much.

It could be that he makes plans with you more often than he really wants to, then breaks them as a result. Do you ever pressure him to make plans with you? You might not even realize you're doing it. Sounds like you need more of his time than he is willing to give. Seek other people and activities to occupy your spare time.

1/12/00 Q: Jim, I have a question. I am 14 and my dad yells at my boyfriend when he
calls. Ever since I told my boyfriend I loved him, in front of my dad, He has been
acting weird. He tells me to clean my room when nothing is messed up and he
has been acting weird towards me. My question is why? I figure you might know.

A: I suspect most fathers would have strange reactions in a situation like you described. That's a tough line for the father of a 14 year old girl to hear. Could it be that your father is unsure of your love for him? Have you told your father you loved him lately... in front of your boyfriend?

1/9/00 Q: Dear Jim,
My name is Megan and I am a 16 year old female. I haven't seen my dad since I was 2 and that was in a supermarket. He hasn't given me anything throughout my entire life. My mom is not well off therefore she can not afford to but me a car for my birthday. I know my dad's address so I could write him if I wanted to. Everyone, including my mom, is telling me to write him and tell him that he hasn't given me anything my entire life that the least he could do is buy me a new car for my 17th birthday (the 29th). I don't feel right doing this but everyone says he owe's it to me. What do you think. Thank you for your help! Sincerely, Megan

A: Thank you for writing. If you don't feel right about it Megan, don't ask him. I think for you, the issue isn't a car it's the lack of your fathers presence in your life. I can't imagine how different my life would be if I had never known my father.

If you do want to get to know him, a letter could break the ice. Remember, you only know what others have told you about him. If the first thing you tell him is all the complaints you've heard about him over the years, that won't help. It's possible that getting to know your father would help you more than any car. I may be wrong about that but I wanted to throw a little objectivity into the mix.


1/6/00 Q: Hi. I am 13 years old and have a Boyfriend who is 13. I have a problem that I am not comfortable talking about to my parents or friends. My boyfriends name is **** and we have been going out for about 2 months now. Before we started going out we went to the movies and he tried going up my shirt. I would not let him and now we are going to the movies again this Friday. He tells me all of the time that he is going to do this again and he thinks I will let him now because we are going out now. But I don't know what to do if he tries this again. Should I let him and just go along with it or should I say no again? Please try your hardest to answer me before this Friday, I am really concerned and I need your advice. I can not talk about this to my parents or friends. Thank you for your help.

A: Insist that he respect your wishes in that department. You shouldn't let him do anything you're not comfortable with. Don't go along with his groping just to be accepted by him. He's not worth it. Another trip to the movies might not be wise.

1/5/00 Q: Dear Jim, I think my head has been screwed with. I have had two boyfriends who have cheated on me. I've been with my third boyfriend for over a year. He is really great. He's told me that he would never do anything of the sort. He said that he doesn't believe in cheating. He's even told me that he wants to marry me someday. I do believe that, but I'm so paranoid that that might happen again to me. Why am I so paranoid? Should I believe him?

A: Yes, you should believe him. You might never fully trust him until you forgive the two who did cheat on you. When I say forgive I don't mean to condone or justify. To forgive is to move beyond the emotions of judgment and resentment.

1/4/00 Q: Hi! Um... kind of a silly question, but it came up at work the other day, and no one can find the answer. How do they make rubber bands? Any help, even a goofy answer would be appreciated. We're all stumped! KT

A: I'll take a guess. Before new rubber has cured it is forced through and opening (extruded) which forms it into a tubular shape, similar to a bicycle inner tube. Remember your Play-Doh Fun Factory? Same concept. After the rubber cures it is cut into rubber bands. If readers have any words to offer about this send e-mail.

1/3/00 Question: Jim how do I get a file out of Microsoft Works into an e-mail. Could you answer quickly as I am sending a resume that needs to be there tomorrow morning.

Answer: We'll assume your are using a PC, not a Mac. Open the resume in Works. Type Ctrl + A (select all.) Type Ctrl+C (copy). Close Works and open your e-mail program. Create and address an e-mail. Click inside the body section of the e-mail and type Ctrl + V (paste.) Bang, there it is. All Works formatting will be lost so you'll need to fix it up a bit.

1/2/00 Question: Dear Jim, I am engaged to be married in 5 months. I thought I met the man of my dreams. Hard-working fun loving etc. I have a 9 year old daughter. I was very young when I had her. I am 22 and he is 23. We have only been living together about 3 months. We fight ALL the time. He is always sorry for picking these fights with me. I don't understand him. One minute he is as loving as the day I met him and other times he's cold. I actually have been thinking of canceling the wedding, but I do love him. I just feel lost. Do you think he just has the jitters?

Answer: Maybe you have the jitters and for good reason. Constant fighting won't go well in a marriage and won't help your daughter. How does she feel about you marrying this guy? You're considering calling of the wedding. That's a sure sign that things aren't right. Listen to your conscience.

1/1/00 Question: I have a Uniden BC 145XL scanner radio and I'm having a hard time programming frequencies. Would you know how to or a web site that I can go and find information on this type of scanner.

Answer: The Uniden Web site did not list a 145XL but did list a 144XL. Contact Uniden America Customer Service (800) 297-1023 to see if they can provide a manual for your model.

We'll assume yours is similar to the 144XL with a two digit LED display. Turn the unit on. Push the manual button until 01 appears on the display. Enter the desired frequency using the number keypad. Push the enter or E key. Push manual again for channel 2, then enter another frequency.

For more scanning radio info visit this page.

12/26/99 Question: Hi, I've been reading your page for a while. I have been going out with my girlfriend for 3 months. During our relationship, she developed an obsession with my best friend. I found some e-mail's she had sent to her friend (online) about my best friend, I confronted her. She explained that it was just a little crush, "Nothing to worry about. Its only you" She is an avid church attender. Not so much the service, but the different groups that some churches offer. Now, my girlfriend probably has the best intentions, but she flirts with the people there. She isn't a particularly flirty person, but she has several odd quirks. She loves wearing other peoples clothing (hats, jackets), and also just has fun with people. She tells me in detail about what she does there, including the flirting (that I don't thing she intends to do) and the guys there hitting on her. This bothers me, and after I found out that she had liked my best friend, I have had a raging jealousy. Is this just? Or am I just overreacting? How can I tell her how much this bothers me. HELP! Thanks.

Answer: If she's a flirt, why are you making excuses (3) for her? Most men I know would not want a girlfriend who is a flirt.

Is your relationship worth the "raging jealousy" you experience? Do the negative aspects of your relationship outweigh the positive ones? Think about that and then think about it some more. Could it be that you are attracted to her because she gives you reason to be angry? Get over this girl and chill out dude. Don't let your anger get the best of you.

Don't even try to tell her how much her flirting bothers you. You can't change the person she is and it's not wise to try. You have the ability to move beyond all this or let jealousy drag you down. Make the right choice.

12/23/99 Question: Dear Jim: My boyfriend and I have been dating for about a year and a half. The problem I have is his ex-girlfriend. They e-mail each other about once a week. She still visits his aunt and grandmother. Even though she lives with her new boyfriend she has professed that she wants my boyfriend back. She sent him a letter 3 months ago that dogged me and signed it with Love. He has never addressed this letter that she sent to him and I feel as if he didn't stand up for me. I don't understand why he wants a friendship with her when he knows how much it bothers me. I have never spoken, seen or written her. He tells me to trust him. He tells me that I'm the only one
he wants. Am I just being insecure and controlling?

Answer: Many women in a similar situation would feel the same as you do. Don't worry about it too much. If his ex girl friend can get him back, let him go! You might be better off.

12/21/99 Question: I put a magnet on the computer screen. Please help me fix the computer screen.

Answer: I did the same thing once when I was a kid only it was the TV screen. After a few days the strange colored marks disappeared. Hopefully, your problem will fix itself. Give it time.

12/11/99 Question: Dear Jim.... I left my boyfriend of one year and 9 months and now I am regretting it. I miss him so much and I want him to take me back, but he won't. I am so terribly unhappy. I need to find some advice to help dealing with it........ I am so unhappy. Erin

Answer: You need to talk to someone close to you about this. A parent, sister or close friend. Relationships, or lack thereof, are often the cause of depression for people. If you show signs of depression such as loss of appetite, inability to sleep, isolation etc, you should seek professional help.

Here are some things to consider. Very often, we don't fully appreciate things until we loose them. On the other hand, sometimes we only want things we can't have. You didn't say why you left him, possibly it was for valid reasons. Could it be that you only want him back for selfish reasons? Is it his good character and other qualities that you seek or do you just want your boyfriend back? Soon, you'll likely meet someone else you like and your heartache will fade. Keep your eyes open for those opportunities. Stay aware of and appreciate good things in your life, such as your health, family, etc.

12/10/99 Question: Hi I just meet a girl and I wonder if I should ask her out? I would ask her out to go with some friends to the movie should I ask or not?

Answer: Go for it! Be prepared in advance for her to decline your offer, in which case, go to the movie just the same. Good luck. Thanks for writing.

12/2/99 Question: How can I get this girl I really care about to take our relationship from being just "friends" to being "boyfriend/girlfriend"? She broke up with her boyfriend about 2 months ago and we started dating 2 weeks later. She has told me that she doesn't really want to get in another relationship right now, but she has told other people that she does and with me. I am very confused. She has dated a few other people, but every time I want to go out with someone else she gets very upset and doesn't want me to do it. Do you have any advice? We are both 17 and seniors in High School.

Answer: She dates other people... and you don't because it upsets her? What is going on? Of course she doesn't want you to date other girls. You'll find someone you like more than you like her! Sounds like you're being strung along, but don't blame her for it. Do you like this girl too much?

If she considers you a "friend" as you say in your first sentence, enjoy that friendship for what it is. Don't let her emotional upset prevent you from finding a girlfriend.

12/1/99 Question: Dear Jim,
I have a Christmas gift question for you. I am a 20 year old college student and I have been together with my boyfriend for the past 9 months. There are certain things I know he would love to have--camping equipment, a car cd player-- but I don't want to buy him something too expensive or come off as too cheap. I would love some gift suggestions from a guy. Well, any advice you can give me will be appreciated- thanks!
-unsure in Florida :)

Answer: I suggest you make something or customize a gift with your own hands. Consider a crafts project or a collage. If you buy him a gift, you could customize it to give it a more personal touch. Whatever he gets, don't worry about it. If he's a smart guy, the gifts you give him won't change his opinion of you.

11/29/99 Question: What is the average IQ, for a boy at about 14 years old and in 8th grade?

Answer: Average IQ should be about 100 for any age. Age is a factor in the scoring of most IQ tests. Roughly seven out of ten people have IQ's between 85 and 115.

Question: Hello Jim I don't have any personal problems, but I have to tell you I am new to the Net. For about 10 yrs now I have been trying to find an old movie, "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" starring Kim Darby. It came out in 1973. I don't know how to search for it. I've tried every search for movies possible but they don't ask you what your searching for. I'm lost if you can offer me any info on how to go about finding this I would really be greatful if not, thank you anyway.

Answer: Found this at the Internet Movie Database.

Question:Dear Jim,
I have been married for a little over a year now but my husband and I are having some problems. He is still seeing a girl that he use to see before we got married. He claims that they are just friends and she says the same but it really is a cover up. I caught them at the movies a few weeks ago and the next day I moved out. He asked that I give him some time to get his life right with God and to take care of some things so that he can be a good husband to me. I know that he is trying to get his his life right with God because I see it in his everyday actions. This girl and I have talked a few times and she claims she is my friend too but she really wants him for herself. He has been open with me and told me that she does want him but that he will take care of the situation. I love him to death and I know he loves me but he has some changes he needs to make in his life. My question is what should I do in the meantime?

Signed, Angry, Hurt, and Confused

Answer: You said, "...he has some changes he needs to make in his life." The way I see it, it's you who needs to make changes in your life by deciding how much of his BS you are willing to put up with!

Click here to view Jim's photographs

Question: My husband is working in the downtown Boston area and currently commuting from Maine. I have tried unsuccessfully to find him a room with weekly rates that we can afford. He has been in a few 'different' places, but to be
honest they were actually scary. Is there a rooming house, YMCA or motel in
Saugus that we could inquire about lodging? (He is a non smoker.)
Thank You.

Answer: I'm not aware of any rooming houses in the area. Here is a list of Saugus hotels.

Question: I have had a terrible relationship with my mother (until recently), when I was younger she would always put me down, saying things like " You are never going to be anything" and "You are just like your father". She never trusted me and when things went wrong I was always to blame. This started when I was very young and continued until I moved out. I always loved my mother dearly throughout all of this but still felt very upset most of the time. I have since confronted my mother with all of this and we have made some progress as far as making the relationship better and communicating. I have finally been able to deal with this and move on somewhat though it is an ongoing process for me. Now I have another problem, I have a very hard time trusting the man that I am going to marry. I feel that he will leave me or cheat on me with someone that is prettier or more outgoing, etc. He has never given me any reason to feel this way and is very reassuring when I do. We get along wonderfully except for this, it is a definite problem. I know it hurts him but I truly feel this way sometimes until I rationally think about it then I feel awful but I can't help it. It is a day to day occurrence and I know that it hurts him to think that I feel he would do this to me. I think about it all of the time and know it is very unhealthy and unfair to both of us and I would really appreciate any advice you could give. I have a strong feeling that this stems from the problems that I had with my mother, because he is truly my best friend and the one I trust with every other aspect of my life, as I thought my mother was as well. But she hurt me very deeply and now I just expect him to do the same because I love him so much as I do my mother. Thank you for "listening".
Just Me

Answer: Thank you for writing. You seem to have more insight than the average 21 year old. Your relationship, or lack thereof, with your father could be a factor in all of this. Did your mother not trust him? Was he a trustworthy guy?

Understand that your mother could not control her mistrust of you, just as you cannot control your mistrust of your husband to be. You said yourself, "I can't help it." Neither could she! With that in mind it may be easier to completely forgive her. If that happens, fear of your man cheating may dissipate.

When we judge our parents for their shortcomings to a point where the judging becomes ingrained in us, sometimes we are are attracted to mates we can judge and the cycle continues. Of course, that's not always the case.

Your question is a difficult one. I'm just an average guy with no training in dealing with these types of issues.

Question: I have two grown children: a 19-year-old son and a 21-year-old daughter. They both still live at home. Both are independent and employed. Though neither one of them pays rent. Here's my problem. My son has always had a difficult personality. He likes to say no and argue just for the sake of argument, he's moody and inconsiderate, and frequently even his friends throw their hands up and refuse to have anything to do with him. On the flip side, he can be thoughtful and charming when he puts his mind to it. Over the past year, he has become increasingly difficult - refusing to do chores, pushing a belligerent attitude about almost everything, arguing constantly, coming in and out of the house at all hours of the night, opening our house to his "friends" (even when he's not home), letting them eat, sleep, and bathe in our house. When he is confronted, he becomes angry, we have huge yelling fights, and sometimes things will get better for a little while, though eventually return to the same thing. I suspect drug use, but haven't been able to confirm or disprove it.

I am ready to tell the kid that, though I love him dearly, I am not willing to tolerate this type of behavior anymore, don't plan on being his safety net forever, and want him to find a place to live and move out of the house. We live in an area that is very expensive, with an extremely low housing vacancy rate, however, and I am afraid that I will be pushing him into god knows what. Considering the disruption he has caused in our household, is it even reasonable for me to worry about this? Leslie.

Answer: Your children may be independent but if they live under your roof, they're dependent on you for shelter. You're not doing them a favor by allowing them to live rent free. I'm going out on a limb here but I suspect your son has anger towards his father.

Question: How do you let a guy know that you like him with out coming out and saying it just in case he is not interested. NEED HELP ASAP

Answer: Realize that if he isn't interested, that's OK.

Question: Hi, My name is Barbara and I am 32 years old. I recently got married for the first time to an USMC Captain! I love him. We dated for 14 months before getting married. When everything should be just great, I have a low and I mean LOW sex drive. I also feel inadequate in life. Except for getting married, I have never completed anything in my life. I am in therapy but that does not seem to help. I feel like instead of being 32, I just as well be 92! I feel like I am too old to find myself, have children, have a career, or just about anything else. I do not want to burden my husband. He will listen and is more than supportive. But, I don't think he understands my sadness and how old I really feel. Is it too late in life for happiness and more?

Answer: No, it's not too late. Your husband is a good listener and supportive so you won't be burdening him by telling him how you feel. Effective and frequent communication is crucial for healthy relationships. An increase in communication with your husband may lead to an increase in your sex drive. If your therapy is not helping you feel better about yourself, find a new therapist. If people have made you feel inadequate, try to forgive (not judge) them.

Question: A friend of mine is getting married and he is only 23 years old and I don't
know if he is doing the right thing. He seems very confused. He's looking
for a new job, a new house and he has a baby on the way. I want to help him
in the right direction. What should I do? He always seems to get himself
into these big situations. I am 33 and have done the same thing and I am
trying to help him from doing the same thing...............THANKS, RICH

Answer: I'm not sure I understand. Getting married, that's not a bad thing. Looking for a new job can be a step in the right direction. A new house? What's wrong with that? Beats paying rent, right? A baby on the way, what would you suggest he do about that?

What may have been mistakes for you might not be mistakes for your friend.


Relationship Questions

Question: I am 23 and have been dating a 45-year old man for about five months and have known him and worked at the same company (he is not my supervisor and I am not his and there are currently no company policies on dating) for 9 months. He has children around my age that live at home with him that I get along with well. He has brought up marriage and I have brought up wanting a family of my own. He has had a vasectomy and said he would be willing to have it reversed, but that is not a guarantee that we would be able to have children together. I am unsure about committing to him, without the promise of having children. I know him well, love him and trust him, but I am afraid he may change his mind about having more children. We have discussed it and he tells me we will deal with problems as they arise and there are no problems right now. Am I over- or under-reacting about getting seriously involved with an older man?

Answer: He hasn't got down on one knee yet, so why worry about his ability to father children? If he does ask you to marry him, don't be afraid to refuse. Reversing a marriage can be more troublesome than reversing a vasectomy. I wish you the best and remember this, "When buying a hat... use your head."

Question: Hi Jim,
I am 16 years old and I have been with this guy (who is my same age) for 2 going on 3 years now. Everything is great, but recently he has been paying more attention to his car and also to going to the gym to I guess get bigger. He always tells me how much he loves me and how much he likes being around me, but sometimes I feel I am at his priority list. For instance I asked him if he could bring me to dance practice, but of course he said well I have to go work out today. I really love him and its not like if we broke up I couldn't go on living. And every time I ask somebody about our problems they just tell me I am to young to be in a serious relationship anyway and I just get tired of hearing that. So if you could help me on what I should do I would be very greatfull.

Answer: As the two of you grow older your needs and values are changing. Expand your circle of friends and find new things to do that interest you. If he feels you depend too much on him for your happiness, that could be driving him away. If his interest in you is fading, it might best to dissolve your relationship. Have fun with your friends and let him go shine his car and pump up his muscles!

Question: Hey,
Well, I'm running for middle school vice-president and I have a tutor helping
me with some sort of humorous speech and I visited sites on advice and ideas
for my campaign. It's just I'm not sure I'm running for the right reasons.
For instance I want to make my mom happy 'cause she really wants me to run
for office. If I do win it'll do really well to help me get on the Junior
Honor Society which is a group of teens who are over-all good students with
sports, grades, and friends. The teachers pick these students. Anyway, I
know that I wouldn't like going to the student council meetings and things
like that, but I know it's good for my scholastic future and would make my mom
proud. What should I do? Should I run?

Answer: You can run, but you can't hide....Get it?

Question: Jim, I am just starting out, at 53, to get into photography on a serious
basis. I currently have several thousand images, and would like to sell
some of them. The problem is, I don't know how to price these images.

Is there a formula or other method that you would suggest, that I can
use to set a fair price? I also have a couple of contractors that I know
who want me to take site and progress photos for them. Again, I am at a
loss how to charge.

Any advice you can, or would be willing, to give would be greatly

Thanks John

Answer: There are several factors to consider. Determine what the picture will be used for. If the image will be used for commercial purposes you might price it differently than if someone were buying a photo to cover a crack on their wall. If a photo is very unique that would be a factor also. If you do work for hire, make sure you make a contract specifying the details. I recently purchased a book called Business and Legal Forms for Photographers. A book about pricing, such as this one, is available from

Question: Sir, here's my dilemma:

I'm getting married.

Planning the wedding was absolutely "nightmarish" what with all the fighting,
bickering, changing of minds, etc. that I decided to take control and just have a
simple civil ceremony in a courthouse -- a far cry from my "fantasy," but at
least I can call the shots now.

However, regarding the honeymoon, tickets to where we're going in the
Caribbean have already been paid in full, as have the hotel and rental car fees.
My fiancé's brother's girlfriend recently E-mailed me that, " . . . if all goes as
planned, we'll be out there in October." Then I heard my fiancé on the
telephone giving the dates we're going to be out there to his brother. I became
concerned that he invited his brother, along with his brother's girlfriend, to our
honeymoon!!! This upset me tremendously, needless to say, since (i) it's my first
vacation with him in over four (4) years and (ii) it is, after all, my honeymoon. I
let my fiancé know in no uncertain terms that this was unacceptable to me. The
last thing I want is to go away on a long overdue vacation/honeymoon and have
his brother (w/girlfriend) tagging along accompanying us here and there.

Please help me out. Thank you.

Answer: Most people wouldn't allow company on their honeymoon. Could it be that your efforts to "take control" and "call the shots" have prevented your fiancés friends and relatives from participating in his wedding? That could explain their attempts to participate in your honeymoon. A honeymoon is for the bride and groom. Did your fiancé invite them? If not, they should stay home.

Free Relationship Advice

Question: Hi there. I came across your page when I did a search for 'advice' and
'help'. Your page was the only one that didn't require a credit card!

Anyway, here's my problem: My boyfriend of 1 year and best friend of 8
years work at the same company, both work the midnight shift. (She referred
him for the job). They're ALWAYS hanging out together either after work
(when I'm asleep) or during the day (while I'm at my job). They don't think
this is a big deal, but it bothers me. They used to not get along at all.
When I told my boyfriend that it bothered me that they spend so much time
together, he told me I'm being paranoid, and that I must not trust him.
Maybe I don't. I guess I've seen to many movies, read too many books, etc.
about men leaving their women for the woman's best friend. I'm pretty sure
nothing's happening between them now, but in time, who knows what could
happen? Am I being paranoid, or do I have a valid reason to be
uncomfortable with the situation?

I'm not just bothered by this because I think they'll fool around, but I'm
afraid that if they become friends, I won't be able to talk to my best
friend the same way about my boyfriend. She always listens and comforts me
when I complain to her about my boyfriend (when we fight or argue.) If she
becomes close to him, she'll become biased and may even take his side.
Should I talk to her about this? What should I do about this situation???
I feel like the bad guy. I could use some advice.

Answer: My advice is this: (no credit card required!) Print the e-mail you sent to me, then show it to both of them, one at a time. They will know exactly how you feel and they won't have the opportunity to interrupt you to make you doubt yourself. Ask your boyfriend how he would feel if you were seeing one of his friends more than you were seeing him! If he tells you it wouldn't bother him, then what does that say about his feelings for you? Confirm or dispel your suspicions as soon as possible.

Question: When taking pictures of animals (pets for example) what are some things
that can be done to make the picture, picture perfect? Denise

Answer: Keep the picture simple and avoid distracting backgrounds. Make sure you are not too far from the subject. Here is a picture I took of my sisters cat. Today a friend, (Steve Pothier) sent me a link to a page from containing pictures of pets. Steve's picture of his dog is on page two.






Question: Bye the way, my daughter, now fifteen, wants a career in
photography.....any advice? Keep up the good work.

Answer: First, I would recommend visiting a local library to find books on the subject. Also, looking at quality photography, in books, on calendars etc. helps one learn what makes for a decent photograph. A subscription to a photography magazine might make a nice gift.

Next time you or your daughter attend a wedding, talk to the photographer and ask how they got started. It seems to me wedding photographers have the best luck making money in the business.

Advise your daughter to talk to a guidance counselor at school. They could provide advice on pursuing career in the field, colleges etc.

The Greater Lynn Camera Club offers annual photography courses. You can find a link to their Web site on my Saugus Links page. I attended their course about 20 years ago and enjoyed it.
For a taste of what photojournalist work is like, I often listened to Boston Globe photographers assignments at 453.000MHZ. It's likely they use mostly cell phones these days.

Lastly, have your daughter read my photography tips page.

Question: How many people were in the United States Armed Forces in World War II and how many are alive today? Thanks in advance.

Answer: According to the 1991 Information Please Almanac (Houghton Mifflin,) 16,112,556 U.S. citizens were engaged in WWII. The total casualties from all causes was 1,076,245. How many are alive today? I could not determine that. Thanks for writing.

Question: My question is about one of the former businesses in town, Heck Allen's.
Does any one know where I can get the recipe for their Famous Fried Clams. This is for personal use. I am so hungry for real fried clams. I can be reached at:

Answer: That's a tough one. If you only want Heck Allens recipe, then we'll see if any readers can help. Good luck.



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