Helping You Help Yourself #39

This has always haunted me and finally I may find relief: the difference between a button-up and a button-down.

Previously in this column, we looked at a DIY dog toy that involved some 101-level woodworking. If you’re into the concept but would like a hard pass on the trip to Home Depot and sawing dowels, perhaps you would like this DIY dog toy, which requires only a 2-liter bottle, treats and string.

An online tool that suggests potential adjectives for a noun you give it, helping you pump up your writing, figure out the word that’s on the tip of your tongue, or just stir up your brain a little bit.

Being the kind of person who babies love is my dream (like that one episode of Happy Endings, remember?). Here are some tried and true tricks for making babies laugh. One of them involves a skateboard; I’m not going to do that one.

Many of us are shopping on Amazon this holiday season (use Autostraddle’s affiliate link and help us out a bit!). Here’s how to secure your Amazon account if you’re interested in web security.

I dunno, thought you might like to know how to make a Wonder Woman tiara.

If you love games of chance and gamifying things but don’t naturally love saving money, you may be interested in Long Game, an app that mimics lottery ticket mechanisms and has you save money in an FDIC-insured, interest yielding savings account. If you don’t want to play anything and instead just want to have money saved without you having to do literally anything, you may prefer Digit, which assesses how much money you have in your checking account, decides how much you can afford to save, and makes automatic deductions accordingly on a regular basis to build your savings account.

I know we just got done being thankful in a formal way for the holiday, but I’d encourage you not to give up the habit! Making a practice of thanking someone else every day — not just in a reflexive way when they hand you the can opener, but taking time to explicitly note something they did that you’re grateful for — strengthens your bonds with others in a trying time, helps bolster others’ spirits, and helps you be more aware of the good things others do for you, which helps keep your morale up as well.

Now more than ever, it’s important to know who your state and local representatives in government are, and to contact them about issues that are important to you. I use to quickly and easily determine who my reps are in the US and their contact info; for phone calls specifically (arguably the most effective way to contact your reps!) you can use Call to Action to quickly get a phone number for a congressional representative, a very basic script, and info about what happens when you call.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. back when i had to dress like a guy to stay in the closet i learned a lot abt men’s fashion so i learned the difference between button down and button up when i was like 16

  2. Thank you (oh hey) for including the note about expressing thanks to those who deserve it. I’ve spent some time lately thinking/talking through (oh hey therapy) the way my life has shaped up to get me to where I am today. I realized I have many people to thank, and can (with marginal effort) express to them how much they actually mean to me. For example, next month I’m going to visit my close friend’s parents who basically raised me when my parents weren’t up to the task. I am going to thank the living daylights out of them and probably cry. Because I am crying just telling AS that I am going to do it.

  3. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before someone suggested it to me yesterday, but save your state and local reps’ numbers in your contacts. We’re going to need to get in touch with them a lot over the next few years…

  4. I love Digit! it works amazingly and even though it’s sometimes hard to integrate with other budgeting apps (Mint thinks I’m just spending a lot of money on “newspapers and magazines”), it does a great job at helping take only amounts that you won’t really feel hit you in the wallet. You can also set it up to save more or less aggressively or make it so if your balance is below a certain amount, it won’t take anything.

    • My favorite Mint faux pas was when it thought I was buying a ton of fast food when I was actually purchasing train tickets, which were coded as “SUBWAY”…

  5. I didn’t realize how gay I was until I was surprised/confused that the button up/down shirt video was of guys. I actually was like oh yeah, I guess they wear them too.

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