The Cost of Things

Link Roundup! “Breaking Bad” Dolls, Men’s Watches, Last Call for Holiday Flights

+ Sorry, guys. Since a Florida mom complained, you can’t buy “Breaking Bad” action figures at Toys R Us anymore. Note: the NPR article about this story uses “dolls” and “action figures” interchangeably, but I feel like I read something in the New Yorker once delineating the subtle but fascinating distinctions between the categories — which matter a lot for import tax reasons. Does this ring a bell with anyone? Did I dream it, like I dreamed last night that I got mauled by someone’s pet tiger? (“He’s usually very friendly,” the person said, cleaning my wounds.)

+ Remember those happy days when there was a clear hierarchy to men’s watches?

If you’re scaling your way up the ladder of rich douchiness, you start with a middle-class-friendly Casio or Timex. After your first six figures in the finance industry, you move to an “entry-level” luxury watch, like a Rolex, by 30. Then, in your 40s, if you’re lucky, you park your annual bonus on a high-end Swiss number. And in your 50s, feeling both flush and the literal press of time, you rock the equivalent of a Porsche on your wrist, before passing it on to the next generation as a family heirloom.

But since 2007, the whole system has been disrupted by something called “the Ice-Watch” (??), at least in Europe, where everyone, even rich people, wants the cool fun watch that costs only $200. The best part of this article is that it says the Ice-Watch “cock-blocked Swatch.” Wow. Mike would wash our mouths out with soap if we talked like that.

+ Haven’t purchased your flights home for the holidays yet? There’s still time, maybe! A little time, not much. Some years the cheapest flights appear 10 days out, right before prices spike. And holiday flights are actually super expensive in July and August, to punish those of you who might otherwise feel good about being on the ball.

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I Don’t Get Las Vegas

Las Vegas Boulevard, commonly known as the Strip, is a singular example of government and private industry working together to extract every last dollar from every last man, woman and child in America. The sidewalks themselves are in on the scheme.

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How to Stay Married: Splurge on the Honeymoon, Not the Open Bar

“Couples who make more than $125,000 a year (combined) cut their divorce risk in half.” So, yeah. You don’t have to be wealthy for San Francisco, just wealthy for Arkansas.

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Sympathy Flowers

Mike: What color flowers do you send someone who has lost a relative?

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The Cost of Things: A Family Wedding in the DR

Lodging: Free! The advantage to having a huge family is that there are so many places to stay!

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The Cost of Insomnia

For several months now, I’ve woken up in the middle of the night. I’ll look at my clock, and it’ll be 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., and I’ll close my eyes and lay still, hoping to doze off again to wake up at a reasonable hour.

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The Price of David Sedaris’ Briefcase in 1993, in 2014

David Sedaris, writer of FitBit native advertising for The New Yorker, did an AMA today. Through which I learned that Mademoiselle used to pay a lot of money. And/or probably still does if you are David Sedaris. Probably everything does!  

What was the first lavish gift you bought your self with your first large check?

I bought myself, with the very first piece I ever sold to a magazine, which was Mademoiselle, an Il bisonte leather briefcase.

in tiny needling voice

It was in 1993…

I do not know what this leather briefcase cost in 1993 but in 2014 it costs $1528. With shipping, $1565.50.

That though, is a damn fine briefcase. Buying something memorable for yourself with your first big anything falls under Ester’s / late capitalism’s advice to “make purchases feel like experiences.”

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All of My 1 Things and What They Cost

+ Sold two big bags of small toddler clothes: $20 total. This involved inventorying and then trying to list items on the Park Slope Parents Classifieds board, only to realize I no longer had access to Classifieds. I had to figure out who to email about that, email them, wait for a response, and contemplate ditching the whole shebang on the sidewalk and hoping someone worthy would wander by and grab it instead of one of the many neighborhood shahs. Odds: 40 to 1 against.

Finally I confirmed with the right person that I did, indeed, pay my $35 annual fee in June for the right to get emails advertising “homemade natural toothpaste” and to sell stuff that I myself got second-hand or for free.

Then I had to negotiate by email with people who want X but not Y, or who want everything but can’t come til next week, and what brands are the shoes because her baby’s feet are wide; and strike the best balance; and wait some more.

The buyer arrived at last, sweet and eager. My daughter’s only four months old, she told me, so we won’t need this for a while, but I thought I’d snatch it up. Four months! I said. How’s it going? Fine, she said, dreamily. She’s gotten so big, I’m already dreaming about another.

This woman could not exist and yet there she was, pushing a twenty into my hand with a smile.

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These Boots Are Made For Walking

At last, purely by chance, they appeared on sale in my size at a store across the street from my apartment at the beginning of 2008. I snatched them up, feeling less like I had spent money than that I had won some kind of prize.

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Why You Should Buy Thanksgiving Tickets Now

It’s October! There’s a nip in the air, a gourd on every doorstep, a scarf round every throat. And you know what that means: it’s time to go broke paying for holiday travel. Except maybe not this year. Maybe you can get it together to buy tickets in advance and not have to shell out an extra $300 for the privilege of visiting your Aunt Ellen in Milwaukee and listening to your relatives try to explain Twitter to each other for the fourteen-thousandth time.

We tend think that maybe tickets will get really affordable at the last minute because airlines will get desperate, like bar patrons still lingering on their stools at Last Call. This is a myth. MYTH. According to CheapAir.com:

For most domestic trips, we found a similar pattern. The worst time to book your trip was the last minute. No big shocker there. The day before was the single worst day, two days before was the second worst, etc. etc. all the way up to 13 days in advance. Our data completely debunks the myth that if you wait until the last minute, there will be big price reductions to take advantage of, as airlines dump empty seats. That simply doesn’t happen, and buying a flight with less than two weeks advance purchase is the last strategy we would recommend.

When is the optimal time, then? So glad you asked:

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The Cost of Running in My First 5K

I decided I wanted to run a 5K this past May, when I read about the Minnesota State Fair Milk Run. For those of you unfamiliar with the Great Minnesota Get Together, it is a bacchanalia of dairy products, deep-fried candy bars, and foot-long corndogs. Non-edible fair highlights include (but are not limited to): butter sculptures, crop art, the fattest pig in all of the Minnesota, and dangling placentas in the Miracle of Birth barn. The state fair is the most Minnesotan of experiences; the Saint Paul Winter Carnival (where there is sometimes a palace—made out of ice—that doesn’t melt because it’s -25 here in the winter), a Gophers football game, and ice fishing may be Minnesotan, but nothing compares to the Minnesota State Fair. As a transplant from the hills of rural western Pennsylvania, I had never witnessed anything like the state fair, and it was love at first deep-fried-cheese-on-a-stick.

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