On Savvy Drinking: Is the Smart Buy the Best Value?

I feel like it's more useful to look at the markup as compared to other ways I, a consumer, could purchase that drink, vs. looking at the markup compared to the wholesale price. Like, if my draft beer is $5, then saying it's a 456% markup means the bar is paying about 90 cents (I think, feel free to check my math) for that quantity of that beer. But there is nowhere on earth that I could buy that beer for 90 cents, so what's the point of comparing on that basis?

Posted on September 16, 2014 at 6:09 pm 0

On How Wizards Do Money: Fay Dunbar

@the_famou_boat Yeah, down at the very bottom of that wiki you'll find the explanation -- she appears as a named character with a personality in the video games, and something she says indicates that she shares a dormitory with Hermione, so she must be one of the unnamed Gryffindor girls in the same year as Harry who are presumed to exist; two unnamed Gryffindor girls make background appearances in the movies, and they've matched her up to the one pictured based on hair color.

Posted on September 11, 2014 at 5:04 pm 0

On Paying for the Things You Never Fathomed You'd Pay For

@apples and oranges My husband still uses a flip phone, but he's also always asking me to look things up on my iPhone if we're out together, especially directions. I kind of feel like he's cheating.

Posted on September 11, 2014 at 12:42 pm 0

On Harvard: Too Rich to Be a Nonprofit?

The question of "how rich is too rich to be a nonprofit" is an interesting one, and I find myself linking it back to Josh's post a month or two ago about the moral obligations of wealth -- like, is there some cap on the amount of money a nonprofit can justifiably spend on itself and/or hoard for later, versus the amount it spends toward the public good? And if so, where is it? The point about spending a billion dollars to update the dorms particularly caught my attention; I feel like that could really connect to the question of where to draw that line, and whether a rich person/a rich nonprofit has a moral obligation to actually sacrifice (e.g., leaving students in old, poorly-maintained housing -- not that that's necessarily the case at Harvard, I have no idea what their dorms are like, but in general) in order to maximize the amount they put toward the public good, or whether it's all right for them to meet a fairly high standard of comfort for themselves (e.g., update those crappy dorms, even if it's expensive) and then direct the excess toward the public good.

Posted on September 10, 2014 at 3:08 pm 0

On Open Thread: When Do You Replace Your Phone?

I replace my phone when it breaks in such a way that it's either unusable (most recent phone: just plain died, would not turn back on no matter what) or so inconvenient to use that it might as well be unusable (phone before that: stopped holding a charge, could not be used for more than a 2-minute conversation unless it was plugged in). In practice, that's worked out to be about every four years. Right now I have a 4S, which I got about a year and a half ago.

Posted on September 9, 2014 at 5:23 pm 0

On Express Your True Identity With a DIY Job Title

@JNC Musings Factory Yeah, that's the only problem I see with the choose-your-own wacky job titles -- are you going to leave Make-A-Wish at some point? (Probably, because that's tough emotional territory and I'm guessing they have a high burnout rate.) When you do, are you going to put "Magic Messenger" on your resume? And if you do, are any of the managers considering you for jobs going to have any idea what it means? (I mean, also I am basically just a grouchy person who hates whimsy. But that's a matter of taste; the "how do I refer to this in my future job searches" question is a real practical issue.)

Posted on September 9, 2014 at 4:10 pm 0

On We're Not Gonna Pay Rent ... By Check

@Chel Most of my landlords have required a money order, too. As far as fees -- is there a grocery store near you that sells money orders from the customer service counter? I found that their fees were much lower than the bank's, something like $0.30-$0.50 per money order. (I also complained to my bank, when I first figured this out, about how ridiculous it was that they charged more than ten times as much as THE GODDAMN WINCO for the exact same service. Not that said complaint had any effect on them whatsoever, but it made me feel a little better.)

Posted on September 8, 2014 at 5:57 pm 0

On Good Enough Homes & Destinations: What You Get For $200,000

I bought a townhome recently, and looked at a lot of different townhomes in the same development (it's a development where the individual lots were broken up and sold to builders, so all the houses are slightly different), and a lot of them have mirrored walls. I assume it's to increase the amount of light you get, since a lot of your rooms in a townhome are going to have to be windowless. On the other hand, that one's an end unit with plenty of windows, so who knows.

Posted on September 5, 2014 at 7:57 pm 0

On Give Your Kids Video Games to Teach Them About Money

I've always been a resource hoarder in video games, and I think I know why: I'm currently replaying the first RPG I ever played, Lands of Lore, and I had forgotten about this but MONEY IS SO LIMITED IN THIS GAME. Monsters don't drop money and rarely drop sellable items, and even if you do manage to collect some valuable stuff, vendors who will buy it from you are few and far between. Between this and Oregon Trail, which was my other early gaming experience, I can see how I developed a neurotic scarcity mentality about video-game money/resources.

Posted on September 4, 2014 at 5:00 pm 0

On In an Age of Tablets, Are Calculators Still Relevant?

@garli We were always instructed to clear the memory ourselves, then show the "Memory Cleared" screen to our teacher, and one of my friends spent hours writing a program to have the calculator display an identical "Memory Cleared" screen at the mere touch of a button. Not even so he could cheat -- he just didn't want to have to keep reinstalling his games every time we had a test.

Posted on September 3, 2014 at 5:16 pm 0