As promised, my little family hit up Coney Island this weekend for some sun, fun, and bruising brought on by the Cyclone, one of America’s oldest and ricketiest wooden roller coasters. Here’s what we spent and an analysis of whether each purchase was justified:
+ NYAquarium tickets
COST: $24 for two adults. Babygirl got in free.
WORTH IT?: Mostly. Did you know there are penguins in South Africa? Warm weather “jackass” penguins! They are small and adorable; in the water, swimming, they resemble ducks.
The aquarium is pretty small. A good chunk is still under construction, post-Sandy. Babygirl enjoyed trying to catch the tiny, iridescent fish in the tanks and was less enthusiastic about the sea lion show: she shrieked in terror at the sight of their sleek, monstrous bodies emerging from the water to clap their fins. Overall, it was a fun family outing, though I wouldn’t rush to do it again.
+ One Cyclone ride
WORTH IT: Ben emerged battered and hoarse with a huge grin on his face. Unequivocal yes, says he.
Not to worry, via my old favorite Venessa Wong at Businessweek, Nutella owns 25% of the world’s supply of hazelnuts and has acquired Oltan Group, the leading supplier of hazelnuts. Nutella will be fine. They account for 70% of all U.S. sales of chocolate spreads and are, somehow, a 2.5 BILLION dollar company. That’s a lot of people studying abroad and then coming home feeling really cultured because they put Nutella on their toast now. (BEEN THERE.) But it’s the other guys, the little confectioners, that have to worry.
Thank you Grub Street, thank you Bubby’s High Line, the restaurant in the Meatpacking District of NYC, where said ice cream can be purchased. And lastly thank you AMERICA, land of the free:
Those of you who know me know that there are a handful of brands I love so much that I shill them perpetually on my favorite social media channels: Fireball whiskey, the Gorilla Workout, Amtrak, and of course Jimmy John’s, home of the best sandwich in the entire world, the Number 6 With Pep.
I order Jimmy John’s more than I care to admit; at $8 for the sandwich and the freaky fast delivery, it’s an extremely justifiable expense, plus there’s a long stupid Proustian thing about how the sandwiches remind me of adult independence and happiness that I just don’t want to get into right now. (To make a long story short: some of my most formative moments occurred in the company of a Jimmy John’s sandwich, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that keeps happening.)
Which is why I regret to inform you that two Jimmy John’s employees have filed a lawsuit against Jimmy John’s, to wit:
Eat fish. Really? Fish? Yes. Does it have to be salmon? No. But it has to be … fish? Yes. So saith Science.
“There wasn’t one type of fish that was the best,” Raji told me by phone, probably while eating fish. “All that mattered was the method of preparation.” Fried fish had a unique dearth of benefits to the human brain. “If you eat fish just once a week, your hippocampus—the big memory and learning center—is 14 percent larger than in people who don’t eat fish that frequently. 14 percent. That has implications for reducing Alzheimer’s risk,” Raji said. “If you have a stronger hippocampus, your risk of Alzheimer’s is going to go down.” “In the orbital frontal cortex, which controls executive function, it’s a solid 4 percent,” Raji said. “I don’t know of any drug or supplement that’s been shown to do that.” … Up to half of cases of Alzheimer’s disease “are potentially attributable” to seven modifiable risk factors: diabetes, midlife high blood pressure, midlife obesity, smoking, depression, cognitive inactivity or low educational attainment, and physical inactivity. Minimal inroads in those areas, they say, could result in millions fewer cases of Alzheimer’s.
We talk a lot around these parts about how to, and much to, save for retirement. So much will depend, though, on whether one and/or one’s partner is healthy enough to enjoy one’s last years — especially outside of that crooked home we saw on “60 Minutes.” Plan for the future: eat fish. It won’t bankrupt you, or at least, it doesn’t have to.
In The New Republic, a case against office snacks (provided to employees for free as a perk):
In fact, employees may not even fully register that they are consuming office goodies—in part because they are so convenient. When it comes to snacking, we are especially bad not only at self-control, but also at knowing how bad we are at self-control. In one recent study, 40 adult secretaries were offered chocolate in various degrees of proximity. As the chart below shows, they ate more candies when the candies were visible and near, and only slightly fewer when they had to get up to get the candy but it was still visible. This tendency to eat more when the sweets are near seems obvious, but the tendency to eat more was fuelled by quantitative misperception: The secretaries also tended to underestimate their consumption when the candy was close and to overestimate how much they had consumed when it was farther away.
Also: The snacks at Tumblr, where Meaghan used to work, is “stocked with granola bars, chips, yogurt, fresh fruit and veggies, cold brew coffee, and a seltzer machine.”
I’d be totally cool with over-snacking on veggies and seltzer.
Photo: Nate Grigg
On Thursday, I bought my best friend sushi, a treat she only rarely allows herself. On Friday, I took two of my aunts to see Boyhood, the Richard Linklater movie filmed over 12 years, which is a revelation. Better and truer than Tree of Life, and it actually made me want to spend time in Texas. On Saturday, I sent my little brother and his girlfriend to see a show at the Kennedy Center as a happy birthday! / farewell to DC, since Judah is off, with his new car, to start a job in Las Vegas. And on Sunday, I bought dinner for my husband’s godmother and her daughter, who were visiting from North Carolina.
I feel great. Better than great: I feel rich.
Sometimes being generous doesn’t work that way for me. I can buy a friend a book, or dinner, or a present, just because, or make a donation to a worthy cause, and feel sort of bereft afterwards — or at least stressed out about how much discretionary spending I should allow myself. Not regretful, just tense and sad, and then usually guilty for feeling tense and sad.
Other times, tinkling bells play lightly in the distance, meaning magic has happened. Maybe my weekend of giving worked in part because I recently had a birthday in honor of which so many people were generous to me, and it felt good to pay that generosity forward? In any event, I spent more than I anticipated — #MyLastHundredBucks, easy — although I haven’t counted up exactly how much, and I don’t care; it made me actively happy to do it. I do wish I understood the alchemy a little better, because getting to act from a place of abundance rather than scarcity, getting to feel rich by giving money away, especially to people you love, is kind of the best feeling ever.
Kima Jones is a poet and a writer, but that is only one of her many jobs—she also has a full-time job and a part-time weekend job.
According to NPR, more women are vegetarian but more men are vegan. You can also read that sentence as, more women are kind-of-annoying but more men are super-annoying. (I can say that, I’m vegetarian.) (Or can I? I’m sure you’ll tell me.) Anyhoo, vegan dudes are trying to broaden our limited notions of gender and food:
[Old school green-eating men include] Bronson Alcott, a vegan and father of Louisa May Alcott, who wrote Little Women. Alcott saw his veganism as a continuation of his advocacy against slavery and for women’s rights. According to his daughter, though, Alcott never did any cooking. …
Something hard core about veganism does seem to appeal to some men. In fact, according to a Harris Poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group, more women are vegetarian than men, but slightly more men are vegan. John Joseph of the punk band the Cro-Mags and author of a pro-vegan manifesto has rejected animal products for more than 30 years. “I come from jails and gyms where guys were eating Alpo burgers,” he says. “The dudes were like, ‘If it’s good enough for my pit bull, it’s gonna give me more strength and energy!’”
“If it’s good enough for my pit bull” is totally my new motto.
On a macro level, vegetarianism/veganism is generally considered better for the planet. On a micro level, it’s better for your bank account: LearnVest did a test and concluded that veganism is the cheapest diet. A vegan might save $3.50 a day over a meat eater.
The most familiar names in fast food are also the worst. Turns out no one actually likes McDonalds hamburgers, Taco Bell burritos, or Subway subs. According to a new Consumer Reports survey:
many of the biggest names earned significantly lower scores for the foods that made them famous, notably McDonald’s. The chain, which serves flash-frozen patties made with 100 percent USDA-inspected beef, touts them as free from “preservatives, fillers, extenders, and so-called pink slime.” Such a pledge might be comforting, but it’s hardly a rousing endorsement. McDonald’s own customers ranked its burgers significantly worse than those of 20 competitors, including Hardee’s, White Castle, and Carl’s Jr. No other house specialty scored as low.
Taco Bell’s burritos were also voted least luscious. And the subs from Subway, the world’s largest restaurant chain with more than 40,000 units in 106 countries, are near the bottom of the list.
Also at the bottom of the list with Congress and Comcast are nationwide chains Panda Express, Burger King, KFC, and pretty much anyplace that attempts to pass off crust-with-sauce-and-cheese as pizza: Little Caesar’s, Cici’s, Pizza Hut, and Domino’s are all in the bottom 10. Poor Domino’s! They’ve been trying so hard. The most worthless of all though is Sbarro, which makes perfect sense to everyone who ever had to gag down a slice there while waiting for their mom to come pick them up from the mall.
If no one can stand these places, why do they do such vigorous business?