How Much Is Your Love Of Hot Sauce Costing Taco Bell?

hand mustard for two (or more)Growing up, the only really acceptable condiment in my house was mustard. There were lots of kinds of mustard, though! Grey Poupon for when you were feeling fancy; grainier, tangier deli mustard for sandwiches; honey-mustard sometimes for fun. If you wanted to add something beyond mustard to your food, you could add some pickles or maybe sprinkle on some cheese, but — unless you were my little brother, who put ketchup on everything and who was roundly mocked for his immaturity – those were your options.

Luckily mustard is delicious on everything from tuna to french fries. It’s inexpensive and it’s not bad for you: during my disordered eating days, I used it in lieu of salad dressing. My mustard monogamy has served me fine. Je ne regrette rien. But I do admit that the limited horizons of my childhood made me easily shocked when I ventured out into the world.

My mother didn’t put salt on the table, let alone on food. For years I was discomfited if I saw someone pick up a salt-shaker, assuming that doing so was understood to be an insult to the chef. I was and am grossed out by mayonnaise, which is the color and consistency of something in your body gone horribly wrong. And I still don’t get hot sauce. What’s the point of inflaming your mouth to the point where you can’t taste anything except burning?

Ruth Graham extols the virtues of hot sauce, though, especially on food at Taco Bell. Her problem is that, in recent years, fast food joints have made such condiments harder to get ahold of. You can’t grab them off the table anymore; you have to ask the staff for the taste-enhancers that should be your right as a consumer. She demands to know why. READ MORE


Do or Do Not 1 Thing; There Is No Try

rollingdroid 2It’s time for Do 1 Thing!

I’m pretty lucky today because I focused hard and got my work done, which means my Do 1 Thing is watching the new Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens trailer (which I didn’t watch earlier because I was focusing hard and getting my work done).

Do 1 Things don’t always have to be terrible and tedious! Sometimes they can be awesome!

What about you?


The Toys You Won’t Buy

I don’t have a lot of “rules” at home for the baby. I put Zelda to bed consistently, I’m strict about her eating, and I keep her away from iPhones. Other than that, it is mostly a free-for-all around here. Still, even before I had a baby, I had THOUGHTS on the insane baby toys which are really popular these days: you know, the ones that fit the whole baby inside of them, with crazy lights and sounds and glitter? “They’re huge, they’re loud, they’re ugly. They probably overstimulate the baby’s senses and make it crazy!” I told myself. That philosophy crumbled relatively quickly in the face of gift-laden visitors and a need to search out everything I could imagine that my baby would want or need. And so, while your baby will happily play with a cardboard box for hours at a time, you (like me) will probably spend a lot of time (and money) shopping for toys—to entertain, to distract, to “stimulate,” and to educate your new roommate.



Pittsburgh Store Charges Women 76 Percent Less Than Men, to Make Up for the Wage Gap


Equal Pay Day was this Tuesday. Do we have equal pay yet? (Checks Internet…) No.

As we wait for equal pay for everybody, Pittsburgh store 76<100 is working to make up the gap at the other end: by charging women 76 percent of what the store charges men for the same purchases. 76<100 represents the current pay disparity in Pennsylvania, where women make an average of 76 cents to a man’s dollar.

As Buzzfeed News reported, 76<100 is run by 31-year-old graphic designer Elana Schlenker, who started the store after reading about similar, previous price-adjustment experiments. At Schlenker’s store, you can buy a variety of handmade items all made by women—which is another way that Schlenker is highlighting women’s contributions to the working world.

Schlenker also highlights intersectional feminism in 76<100. To quote Buzzfeed:

“One thing that’s been very important to me is that people are aware that 76% is a simplification,” Schlenker added. For this reason she has materials in the store that explain the wage conditions of trans people and women of color.



Notes On Utterly Unsuitable Yet Nonetheless Appealing Financial Role Models


Well, let’s see.

There is Gertrude Stein, with her fabulous apartment and endless hosting. Lots of langoustines and literary discussions.

Dorothy Parker and her cocktails.

Dissolute gentlemen in Oscar Wilde plays. Men with good cravats. Dandies in general. Anyone named Beau. Anyone who walks around town all day and considers this an activity.

Lords who hold storytelling competitions in their castles. Lords who get gout. Anyone who gets gout.

The Fitzgeralds.

Heroines in Jane Austen novels. Everyone in Jane Austen novels. Patsy and Edina.

Pride and Prej

Bon vivants and gourmands who sit at cafes for hours while friends stop by to say hello. Anyone who reads and drinks all day and considers this an activity.

Gentlemen scholars. Lady detectives. Lady scholars with magnifying glasses and collections of cool things like bugs. Lady detectives with happy servant sidekicks.

Julia Child. Because she and Paul could afford more in France back then. Also: M.F.K. Fisher. Same reason. All that sole meuniere could make one jealous.

Anyone who owns a jewel-encrusted pet turtle. On a leash. Or a pet wombat, preferably a large one. READ MORE


#FightFor15 Stands Up for a Living Wage

fightfor15 flickr

FightFor15 in Pittsburgh.

Yesterday was #FightFor15, a nation-wide strike/protest/assembly where a reported 60,000 people in 200 cities rallied in support of a single goal: a $15 minimum wage, across America, as soon as possible.

The Guardian, which is where I got the 60,000 people/200 cities statistic, states that “organisers claimed [FightFor15] was the largest protest by low-wage workers in U.S. history.” USA Today adds that “At least one McDonald’s in New York City was temporarily closed by protesters. Several McDonald’s stores kept drive-throughs operating, even while the restaurants were temporarily locked.” Both sources note that, despite the large number of protestors, there were no reported arrests related to FightFor15 demonstrations.

Other countries joined in. From the CBC: “Fast food workers in Toronto also walked off the job today to rally for higher pay. Labour groups organized protests at the McDonald’s headquarters, the Ontario Ministry of Labour and at Toronto Pearson airport.” The Guardian also lists protests “in Brazil, New Zealand and the UK.”

Here are some images from yesterday’s FightFor15 protests and marches:



Stories Of Being On The Dole

Hello, I’m Gawker Media! You might remember me from such previous Internet hits as “the Privilege Tournament,” “mocking people in Vows columns for having too many vowels in their names,” and my lengthy, dramatic frenemy-ship with Emily Gould.

But I do have a softer side. Recently I wrote about statewide efforts to cut into the social safety net and asked to hear stories from you, the real people affected.

Are those who receive government benefits not working by choice? Are food stamps an unjustified handout? We would like to hear from the people who actually receive these benefits. If you are currently on food stamps or are a recipient of other significant public assistance for the poor, please write and tell me your story

Without worrying that we would make fun of you, you replied. (Thank you.)

In the past two days, we have received dozens and dozens of stories from Americans who were kind enough to share their experience of life on the receiving end of the social safety net. A selection of those stories is below. We will share more of these with you over the coming days and weeks.

Here is possibly the most heart-breaking letter:  READ MORE


The Cost of Poly Dating

leverage ot3

In many relationships, there’s a big expense at the beginning for dating, then a big expense a few years later for a wedding, then the enormous expense of having and raising children, then—okay, okay, relationships can be expensive, we get it! In polyamorous relationships, the cost of dating often has both a longer duration and a wider range than it does in monogamous relationships, as people use dating as a way to build bonds with multiple partners.

I used the word “often” specifically, as in “often, not always.” Keep in mind that there are many different types of polyamory; there’s the triad, where three people are in a relationship (as illustrated above by our lovely—and canonLeverage triad, or in The Toast’s brilliant essay “Fit For a King: A Queer Poly Triad Buys a Bed Off Craigslist”), there are a number of variations on the idea of a “primary” partner and “secondary” partners, and there are also poly relationships that don’t include those types of labels.

Since I am not polyamorous myself, I’m hoping that people who want to continue to speak to the nuances of poly relationships can do so in the comments. You should also read the FAQ at More Than Two, which I confirmed was a good source on “Poly 101,” and which includes this quote that is relevant to our discussion:

Many people believe that a person who has multiple loves can’t give their “whole heart” to any person. The belief goes that if you love one person, you can express your love wholeheartedly, but if you love multiple people, your love is divided up and is therefore not as deep. This is based on the “starvation model” of love—that is, you only have a limited amount of love, and if you give your love to one person, there is none left to give to anyone else—so if you fall in love with another person, you have to “pay” for it by withdrawing your love from the first person.

Love is not the same thing as money. With money, you have only a limited amount to spend, and when you give it to one person you have less left to give to another. But love behaves in wonderful and unpredictable and counterintuitive ways.

So how do people in poly relationships handle the cost of poly dating? I chatted with Vicki, in NYC, and Diana, in Boston, to learn more about how each of them manage their finances within the context of their relationships.



The Costs of Eating Out


Daniel Frank, a Canadian law student, wrote an homage to economist Tyler Cowen describing how to be a “frugal foodie”:

If your goal is to eat well, you must allocate your budget accordingly. If you have given yourself a limit of $60 dollars to spend per month on dining, you have to determine how to best allocate your resources. You could spend $60 dollars on one meal at a great restaurant, you could spend $30 dollars for two mediocre meals at a chain diner, you could spend $10 dollars for 6 sandwiches at Subway.

The relationship between money spent and enjoyment of food is not linear. If you are trying to eat the best food possible, that means concentrating your budget on higher quality restaurants. Eating two subpar meals at familiar restaurants will not give you the same feeling or memory as eating one incredible meal. Every time you order from Moxie’s or McDonalds, you are taking away from your ability to experience those amazing meals you savour.

I don’t spend much money on clothes or gadgets or on recreational events like concerts, but dining out is one category where I don’t mind spending money. Back in my twenties, when I was still figuring out how to get beyond entry-level, I would eat as cheaply as possible throughout the week (pb&js for lunch; a big pot of pasta to eat for dinner every night), so I could save enough money to go to a nice place for dinner on the weekend. I suppose the argument here was that I was concentrating my money on a few good meals. Intent has a lot to do with it. One of my friends recently messaged me after reading one of my check-ins. “What were you eating, gold!?” she asked when she saw the $118 I spent. In this case, my friends and I had intended to go to a particular restaurant we wanted to try, and we were aware of prices ahead of time. This last weekend, my friends and I were walking down the street, figuring out where to go for dinner, and we ended up at a Tex-Mex place where we spent $34 each after splitting the bill. The intent here was less about the actual restaurant and more about spending time with one another. Sometimes a memorable meal has nothing to do with the food.

Photo: Gary Knight