Ask Marilyn

Some plastic containers are labeled "microwave safe." Aren't they all microwave safe? Sometimes the thinnest ones deform when they get too hot, but how scary is that?

— Gina Gresham, Cleveland, Ohio

Plastic containers are not all safe to use in a microwave, but droopy containers aren't the problem: It's that some plastics leach harmful substances into the food when they become too hot, regardless of whether they appear to stay in perfect shape. So you shouldn't use any plastic containers or other plastic items in a microwave unless they're labeled "microwave safe" on the item itself or on the packaging, or they are packaged as part of a microwaveable food product. Don't use foam cups, bowls or plates intended for hot foods, and don't microwave cold-food-storage containers such as cottage cheese and yogurt cartons.

Do you have any idea why people seem never to be content with their situations in life?

— Akeem Nicholas, Los Angeles, Calif.

We're raised to be endless strivers — to aim higher and higher and never give up. Consider the well-known statement "Let your reach always exceed your grasp," which summarizes the attitude. It's a recipe for national progress, but it's also a recipe for personal discontent. Add envy, and self-satisfaction takes a nosedive.

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