The Week We Began Weighing the Beans

Mike: Meaghan, I think I’ve become one of those coffee people.

Meaghan: Like a coffee snob?

Mike: I just made a cup of coffee by weighing a specific number of coffee beans and grinding them in a fancy grinder. And then before putting the grounds in the filter, I ran hot water through the paper filter first so I could get the “paper taste” out of it. This process took me about 10 minutes. I was taught by Matt Buchanan, who is now editing over at The Awl and wrote this guide to buying coffee products.

Meaghan: WOW. Okay, you lost me at rinsing the paper taste out of the filter.

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Two Ways to Order a Shake

I work in a co-working space. (For all of you who ask me what that is,  I say, “a co-working space is a place where you pay a few hundred dollars a month to share an office space with people, and also, how are you such a genius that you have thus far managed to avoid reading the annoying publications in which you would have learned this annoying term?”) In said co-working space, I share a small room with two other writers. We have recently taken to calling our little room The Suicide Suite, because off of it is a beautiful balcony on which we are prohibited from standing as it could easily just snap off the building, like a bad lego. A member of our co-working space’s dog once toddled off this balcony,  and as this dog is no longer with us—balcony not at fault here—there is talk of naming it after him. But we’ll have to check with the owner first and right now he is in a foreign country, teaching people to do something which I will forget as many times as it is explained to me.

The biggest subject of the day here at our co-working space is lunch. Lunch is always a problem. There are not many good restaurants in the little town we live in. It’s strange, because there are a lot of really good cooks here, but no one seems to want to do it for a profession. There is a grocery store up the hill that makes good pre-made sandwiches, but sometimes they are out of them, and anyway, I am beginning to wonder if they are a) not very nutritious b) making us fat. Then there are two health food stores, one you drive to and one you walk to. The one you walk to has pre-made sandwiches, too, but they’re a little soggy and while I can’t recall the exact cost, my mind hovers somewhere around the sum of one thousand dollars.

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Here Is Your Open Thread

Gilette is coming out with a new razor with a ball that allows it to pivot, and Kevin Roose writes at NYMag that this is just a trick to make us believe that our perfectly good razors are in need of a modern replacement:

Even if the new razor is more effective than old ones (which I doubt), a swivel ball that gets facial hair 23 microns shorter isn’t a “moonshot.” It’s not even an across-the-street-shot. It’s a dumb novelty that is meant to trick customers into believing that their old, swivel-free razors are outmoded, and that they should pony up for the new model. And what’s worse is that it will probably work.

In other somewhat related news, this exists.

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Emily Nussbaum Pretty Much Like Yeah, My Career Path No Longer Exists, Sorry

Emily Nussbaum was the subject of Rookie’s wonderful “Why Can’t I Be You?” interview series last week, where they talk to successful women about how they go to where they are in their careers, and how we can all grow up to be just like them. It is the best, and Nussbaum, TV critic for the New Yorker and inventor of NYMag’s Approval Matrix, is refreshingly frank, per usual:

The thing is, I literally feel like I cannot give advice on how to get [my] job, because the obvious ways that the journalistic economy has collapsed and the role specifically for culture analysts within that make it very, very hard to make a living. The clear paths even for people who are already privileged are no longer there. I don’t want to BS people. I was super lucky—I aged in at a point where, when a really desirable job became available that I was actually suited for, I had enough experience to already have the clips in place. But how often does the television critic for The New Yorker step down?

The situation now is biased against newcomers. That’s factual. And I don’t think people should beat themselves up for not being able to make headway in that kind of situation…

I mean, listen, I love my job. I have a real dream job. And I want to be encouraging about people who are interested in the same things I am. But I just feel like it’s dishonest to ignore the many structural things that are in the way of the thing I do being something people want to do as a career, depending on their circumstances. I hate when young people are found wanting for not making headway in careers where a lot of doors have been blocked. That’s my basic feeling.

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Alert: There Is a Condom Shortage In Cuba

If you are planning a trip to Cuba some time in the near future, you may want to B.Y.O.C.:

Juan Carlos Gonzalez, director of the state-run wholesaler Ensume, which is responsible for obtaining and supplying most of the nation’s government-subsidised condoms, told the newspaper there were more than a million condoms in the company’s warehouses and that the problem was the result of his workers being unable to meet demand.

He said Ensume had struggled to keep up with a ruling by the state’s regulatory medical agency Cecmed two years ago that the 2012 expiration date on millions of condoms imported from China was incorrect and that the packages had to be relabelled 2014.

Gonzalez said the workers could only repackage 1,440 strips of three condoms per day while the demand in Villa Clara province alone was 5,000 daily. Consequently, the price of a single condom has risen from just pennies to about $1.30, a day’s wages for a typical Cuban worker.

Obviously our first step is to look up the population of Villa Clara province on Wikipedia: 817,070. 5,000/day for 817,070 people? Not impressed, Cuba. READ MORE

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Working as a McDonald’s Party Hostess Changed My Career Path

I was setting extra placemats, paper cups, and napkins on the plastic tables as fast as I could, taking over half the tables in the McDonald’s Playplace. More kids had shown up for the birthday party than were originally counted for and it was my job to make accommodations for them. Less than 10 feet away in the small party room, a plate of glass separating us, the kids were bored. I was paid to entertain them and in my absence, they entertained themselves. They released their energy as kids do best: screaming, running, and jumping on each other. I turned my head in time to see a one of the boys swing his leg over the statue of Ronald McDonald, climbing on top of that smiling clown like it was boosting the boy above a crowd. A mother shooed him down as a couple others tried to control the bedlam. Until then, I had been apprehensive yet optimistic that I could get the party under control, but seeing that drained all hope out of me and I felt very, very tired.

Like millions of teenagers, I worked at McDonald’s in high school. I was mostly tasked with cleaning or working the cash register, but a couple months in, I knew what would be best for me. I wanted to be a birthday party hostess.

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The Suburbs Want More Young People

In the Times, Joseph Berger writes about how more young people are steering clear from the suburbs after they graduate from college and deciding to move and stay in urban cities instead. Suburban towns are trying to figure out how to get young people to come back to them:

Thomas R. Suozzi, in his unsuccessful campaign to reclaim his former position as Nassau County executive last year, held up Long Beach, Westbury and Rockville Centre as examples of municipalities that had succeeded in drawing young people with apartments, job-rich office buildings, restaurants and attractions, like Long Beach’s refurbished boardwalk. Unless downtowns become livelier, he said, the island’s “long-term sustainability” will be hurt because new businesses will not locate in places where they cannot attract young professionals.

The suburban towns face increasingly tough competition from the city. Jennifer Levi Ross grew up in Jericho on Long Island and moved into the Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan a few years after graduating from college. She liked living in the city so much — the easy commuting to work, the night life, the cornucopia of things to do — that when she married another Long Islander, Michael Ross, a Syosset boy, in 2012, they decided to stay put. They say they may eventually end up in the suburbs, but they are not in a hurry.

“It’s something in the distant future,” said Ms. Ross, a 32-year-old advertising copywriter. “We want to hold out as long as possible.”

There’s another theory for why young people are not moving to the suburbs: They’re not just ready yet. Previous generations married, had children and settled down earlier in their lives (my mother had me in her early twenties), and twenty-somethings today are still navigating relationships and their careers and are not ready yet (especially in financial terms) for a house in the suburbs.

Photo: Daniel Ramirez

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Whoops, the $522 Haircut

Here is a nice harrowing tale for your Friday afternoon. The hilarious Carlye Wisel at Awkward City decided it was time to get an adult lady hairdo at a fancy salon. The only problem was she did not ask how much it would cost before she sat down in the chair. It was $522. Plus tip. CHILLS:

I scheduled an appointment, asked for “I don’t know, ombre’s kinda played so something similar”, drank a bunch of lemon waters, tried to make the staff laugh and two hours later, walked towards the receptionist with the farmer’s market, organic, freshly picked-version of bouncy lady hair.

And then I was pronounced dead on the scene after having a heart attack.

Now, this is completely my fault. I never asked prices. I don’t even know how much this stuff usually costs! This salon is, like, a celebrity haven — but due to my naiveté, I had no idea it would be $522. And that didn’t even include tip, which was practically another hundo. And, while you’re wondering how irresponsible I can possibly be, or how poor with money I’ve become, it’s not that. I straight up made a newbie mistake. My inexperience didn’t clue me in to any of the warning signs that this might set me back a lifetime of paychecks.

I have done the same thing before — decided to go with highlights and lowlights say, instead of the much cheaper all-over color, then waltzed up to the counter afterward to be hit with a $250 bill. Or once my regular hair dude was unavailable and I went with someone else at the salon, forgetting to make sure his rates were similar. NOPE.

Something tells me Carlye will never make this mistake again. And may all of us think of her the next time we are feeling too sheepish to bring up pricing.

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For the Love of Books

I was raised in a reading family, by a father who showed his love for us in many ways, but none better than through books. As kids, my sister and I were never chided to go outside and get “fresh air”; if we were reading on the couch, then that was just fine. Weekends found me sitting on a tiny chair at the local bookstore, nose deep in the latest installation of The Baby-sitters Club or Sweet Valley High, tearing through them as fast as I could.

My love for print continued into adulthood. When I moved to New York from California, I shipped 10 boxes of books across the country, reluctant to weed anything out of my collection. I hold onto books that I have never read, might never read, but want to keep just in case. I buy more books than a person can physically read in a week, so that there’s always a backlog, a vast library to draw from if I’m in need of something new.

When I got a Kindle for my birthday, I found myself reading more, but in a different way. Books are expensive. Used bookstores are a wonderful thing, and most of my library is culled from the bookstore down the street or the guy that parks on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn and sells mass market paperbacks two for five dollars. To kill time before movies, I dip into the Strand Bookstore and roam the stacks. I rarely leave empty-handed. The books I buy on my Kindle are different than the books I purchase in real life. I find that my reading repertoire has expanded because I’m much more willing to spend $9.99 on a new release that I’ll read in a weekend than the $27 it would cost to purchase a hard copy.

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Women in Favor of Increasing the Minimum Wage

Payscale, a company that provides compensation information, asked 11,000 of its users last December whether they believed the minimum wage should be raised to $15 an hour. In their category looking at responses according to gender, women, regardless of income, leaned towards raising the minimum wage. Here’s the chart Payscale put together:

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Friday Estimate

Good morning! This week felt like it went by very quickly—let’s do some estimations.

I have a lunch meeting with some new colleagues today and will be going out to dinner tonight to a steakhouse with some friends, which we’ve been planning to do for the last three months. I’m also having Easter supper with two close friends on Sunday. My estimate is $150.

What are your estimations?

Photo: praktyczny_przewodnik

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What’s ENTAILED In Making a Will? (Get it? “Entailed”?)

Pretend that says "Will"

All right, kiddos! It’s time for Part II of the conversation begun last week about estate planning for millennials, wherein we find a lighthearted way to talk about money and death. There should be a Schoolhouse Rock! cartoon on the subject. Unfortunately the show went off the air before it could find a catchy way to address the importance of bequeathing your earthly possessions and making provision for your dependents and heirs, so we’ll have to make do the best we can. Let’s start at the top.

WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY: What is a will exactly? Is it different from a Living Will? Is there such a thing as an Unliving, Unleavened, or Zombie Will? Do we still “entail” things, like they do on “Downton Abbey“? What if we’ve got nothing to leave but debt and a questionable browser history?

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