40-Hour Workweek My Aunt Fanny

According to Gallup, and probably your own experience too, “full-time” in this country is not 40 hours a week.

The 40-hour workweek is widely regarded as the standard for full-time employment, and many federal employment laws — including the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” — use this threshold to define what a full-time employee is. However, barely four in 10 full-time workers in the U.S. indicate they work precisely this much. The hefty proportion who tell Gallup they typically log more than 40 hours each week push the average number of hours worked up to 47. Only 8% of full-time employees claim to work less than 40 hours.

47 hours a week is more than one extra hour of work per day. WTF. This is because we don’t have unions anymore, right? (“The number of U.S. wage-earners also belonging to a union in 2012 and 2013 is 14.5 million, or 11 percent of the workforce, according to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared to roughly 30 percent 64 years ago.”) 

Did you ever / do you now belong to a union? Is it amazing? I have a friend who works for a unionized lefty magazine and she doesn’t even realize how amazing she has it because amazing, for her, is the norm. For the rest of us, though, it is merely a dream.

It’s a Weird Day. Let’s Rank States!

This weekend, for a wedding, my little family drove all the way up to Lisbon, NH, in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between America and Canada. Basically it’s about as far north as you can believe the US goes and then further. We passed signs saying “Thar be dragons.” As we drove through them, and to pass the time, we ranked the states of New England. Appropriately, this morning, I saw this: What’s The Matter With Connecticut?

Who would run away from Connecticut in the first place? It seems a state not afflicted, a lovely, hilly green hamlet nestled between Boston and New York. It has a low crime rate. It has stellar schools. It has the highest per-capita income of the 50 states. It’s home to Martha Stewart and America’s best pizza, for God’s sake. Edge complained primarily about the state’s political incompetency and its “freeloaders.” But there’s a much deeper malaise afflicting Connecticut and its angry letter-writers. While there is great wealth, there is stagnant growth. Along with high incomes has come increasing poverty. Amid those million-dollar mansions, the middle class has eroded. In short, Connecticut has somehow managed to become both the richest and worst economy in America. And what’s worse, America has started to look more and more like Connecticut.

How to Be a Boss Boss

Hold onto your hats! Millennials are taking over, which means that people from other generations are going to have to stop bitching about the youngs for a second and figure out how to welcome their new corporate overlords. Time has some suggestions:

“Determine how your millennial boss prefers to communicate,” Dorsey says. For instance, maybe they hardly ever check voicemail, but they might be quick to respond via online chat or text message. Be prepared to hustle. “The day-to-day work at a Generation Y–led business is very intense and fast,” says Arvind Jay Dixit, CEO and founder of social-media platform Bubblews. Be flexible — you might be expected to jump into a variety of roles and do a wide variety of tasks, Dixit says. It might sound daunting, but it can pay real dividends for your career. “This keeps workers on their toes and motivated because they feel they have power to be able to influence decisions and strategy across the board,” he says. Sharpen your social (media) skills. “Millennials expect to build a brand on various social platforms and be ‘liked’ in volume,” says Michelle Dennedy, vice president and chief privacy officer at McAfee Inc. Since before they were teenagers, millennials have been expressing themselves online and are used to a constant flow of information and communication, she says. Don’t try to be their BFF. “What we see is that employees struggle more in a job as they become friends with a millennial boss outside of work,” Dorsey says. “Keeping it professional is the way to keep the job.” Keep your tech skills up to snuff. “Millennial small-business owners tend to be very technologically savvy and open to digital tools and innovation that will help their business succeed,” says Keri Gohman, head of small-business banking at Capital One.

Have you gotten to be a #GIRLBOSS? What are your tips for having non-millennials — who still expect to do things like, ugh, make phone calls — as employees? Or alternatively I guess how do you like dealing with millennials as your employers?

Good Enough Homes & Destinations: What You Get For $240,000

The Grey Lady is packing bathing suits and plastic bags (to hold wet bathing suits) and towels and face sunscreen and body sunscreen and aloe and moisturizer and hardly has time for Great Homes and Destinations this week. Her magic number is $2,400,000, which is again and always hilarious. What’ll that get you?

The three-story house has an elegant foyer on the first floor. To the right is a den with chestnut paneling and a coffered ceiling; a flat-screen TV over the fireplace is hidden behind a painting. To the left is the living room. Ceilings on this level are more than 20 feet high. Updated kitchen appliances include a Wolf range and a Sub-Zero refrigerator. Both the kitchen and the dining room open to a terrace and a bluestone patio overlooking downtown Providence.

A rich lady in Beverly Hills once showed me how, at the press of a button, artwork on the wall of her bedroom rolled aside to reveal a flatscreen TV. She was so proud.

We’ll see if we can find some houses with secrets in today’s installment of Good Enough Homes & Destinations: What You Get For $240,000.

Even Reese Witherspoon Has Impostor Syndrome

Kyle Buchanan at Vulture asks great questions of Oscar-winning, A-list, teacup-sized-person Reese Witherspoon and, because sometimes that works, gets great answers:

Cheryl had never been backpacking before she set off on this hike, and yet she did it anyway. As an actress, have you had similar moments where you felt like you were in over your own head, signing on to do something incredibly daunting and barely able to believe that you could make it work?

Oh yeah, a lot. Half the time on set, I feel like I’m hanging on by the seat of my pants and I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. I basically have a new job every three months where I’m like, “Uh, am I qualified to do this?” And I find out during the process whether I am or I’m not. This film was really a gift, and it’s exciting to not know if you’re gonna make it, or if you’re gonna break down in the right place. Really interesting creative things come out of that process.

Maybe Polly Pocket is feigning modesty here, doing a ‘Stars: They’re Just Like Us!’ routine. But she seems sincere, perhaps because she also comes off as thoughtful, and that’s harder to fake. (“I’ve never seen a film like Wild where a woman ends up with no man, no money, no family, no opportunity, but she still has a happy ending.”) Starting a new job every three months sounds incredibly stressful, after all; you’d have to have the preternatural self-confidence of a Tracy Flick not to let it get to you.

Another high-profile victim of Impostor Syndrome: Hello Kitty.

B&B, Air B&B, or Kink B&B?

Why get a regular room somewhere when you travel when you could get a deluxe experience, and I mean deluXXXe, as detailed in this Refinery 29 profile of the NoCal hotel Stay & Play:

“It is a free-standing, two-level adult playhouse,” [Diva, the proprietress] explains, “like an adult treehouse.” Three years ago, the “adult treehouse” was a barn used primarily for hay storage. Now, the farming tools have been replaced with a menagerie of props for submission and domination. “I am not a submissive. It doesn’t work for me to play that role — it’s oil and water,” Diva tells me. “In corporate America and in S&M, people equate being a dominant woman with being a bitch. I always thought you could attract more flies with honey.” A weekend night at Stay & Play costs $300, minus $50 if you stay through the weekend. It includes full usage of the S&M facilities and (of course) comes with the sweet touch of a home-cooked breakfast. Couples are the usual guests, but the occasional threesome or larger group isn’t unheard of. Guests range from S&M newbies who are curious about the lifestyle to old hands. 

This sounds terrifying, but perhaps no more terrifying than the average B&B, which forces you mingle over scones with strangers, or the average Air BnB, which might catch fire. At least this B&B, like the best ones, has character.

A $455,000 Child Vs. A $145,000 Child

If you invested almost half a million dollars into raising one horse and only a fraction of that raising a second horse, you’d expect the first horse to do better in life, wouldn’t you? Be shinier, sleeker, more confident, faster. Maybe it would jump higher, eat more apples. Brush its own hair, I don’t know, whatever good horses do. Maybe you’d think of it as more valuable. But what about children?

High-income families who live in the urban Northeast, for example, are projected to spend nearly $455,000 to raise their child to the age of 18, while low-income rural families will spend much less, an estimated $145,500, according to the report.

Part of this can be chalked up to the astronomical cost of childcare, especially in certain regions:

In 2012, center-based care for one infant was greater than median rent payments in nearly half of the states, according to Child Care Aware of America’s most recent report. In Seattle, Britta Gidican and her boyfriend spend $1,380 each month on daycare for their 17-month-old son, just $20 less than they spend on their mortgage each month. “When I was pregnant I knew daycare would be expensive,” said Gidican, a public relations manager. “But I didn’t expect to pay two mortgages.”

What Would You Do for $1000 an Hour?

In college, we spent a lot of time playing a fun game called “Would You Rather.” Like, “Would you rather have to vomit every third time you opened your mouth, or take a dump on your favorite professor’s desk chair?” Sometimes the questions went beyond bodily functions to money: “Would you rather steal $10,000 or have it given to you because a relative you loved died?”

Nowadays everyone just plays Cards Against Humanity.

Let’s be retro! Would you rather make $1000 an hour by shaving monkeys for use in labs, or by being Anthony Green, doing “guaranteed results” remote test-prep for Manhattan’s richest children and having to answer to their parents?

Green is one of the premier SAT and ACT tutors in New York. His company, Test Prep Authority, serves some of the richest kids in America. Using a student’s PSAT, the practice exam, as a benchmark, Green promises he can help raise scores an average of 430 points on the SAT (and 7.8 points on the ACT) — “higher than any other tutor, class, or program in the country,” according to his website. That promise seems to be enough for his well-heeled clientele. And for this very small but wealthy minority, money is truly no object. Green charges $1,500 for 90 minutes of one-on-one tutoring, and he insists on a minimum of 14 90-minute sessions, with very rare exceptions. What’s more, the sessions happen exclusively over Skype. Green’s pupils have never stepped foot inside of his eclectically decorated townhouse.

In the article, Green acknowledges that the system is broken, that the SAT is a “blatant class indicator” and “the entire system of standardized tests and higher education is completely ridiculous and ludicrous.” But as long as that system exists as a supposedly “objective” way of sorting students, he will help the most privileged succeed. AMERICA.

The Real World Cost of a $22 Gadget

The “knee defender” (great name, dude) costs $21.95 and keeps the person seated in front of you on an airplane from being able to recline. It’s also a great way to start fights between strangers!

The spat began on United Airlines Flight 1462 because one passenger was using the Knee Defender, a $21.95 lock that attaches to a tray table and jams the reclining mechanism of the seat in front. The male passenger, seated in a middle seat of Row 12, used the device to stop the woman in front of him from reclining while he was on his laptop, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity. A flight attendant asked him to remove the device and he refused. The woman then stood up, turned around and threw a cup of water at him, the official said.

The pilot made an unplanned stop in Chicago, at which airport the feuding passengers were ejected, and the plane continued on to Denver where it landed an hour and a half late. So, in case you’re thinking of getting your own Knee Defender, buyer beware: the hidden costs might be significant and include your suddenly having to figure out how to get you, and your water-logged laptop, to Colorado.

Business Insider offers a refresher on airplane etiquette here. The publication supports your right to use the seat you’ve paid for however you see fit, but cautions, “make sure to look behind you before you recline. Maybe warn the fellow traveler whose space you are about to invade, so they can hang onto their drink or adjust their laptop. And stay upright during meals.”

DWYL, Year 2: Starting in the Red

The 8th floor of a huge, high-ceiling building just north of Houston Street in Manhattan is a good place to work. My little chunk of it, a sizable room, comes with air conditioning, comfy chairs, a sofa, a whiteboard, a large mirror, an Apple device charging station, a yoga mat, several industrial-chic lamps, a coat hook, two windows that are each taller than I am, three unobtrusive plants, a magazine rack, and a conference table that can seat six. Ordinarily, the space costs $30/hr but it’s free to me from 1:00 to 3:00 PM via Breather, the room-for-rent service.

A psychiatrist I once saw operated in this very building. I dubbed him Dr. Worthless because I am uncharitable that way, especially after a break up. He tried to get me on a strong psychoactive medication and I resisted because my mother had been prescribed that very medication and reacted badly to it. He kept forgetting that I had said no, or kept pushing it on me anyway, and finally I lost my temper. “What, do they pay you or something?” I asked him.

“Yes,” he replied, without blinking.

He also told me I wouldn’t need the pills he did give me because the placebo effect of my carrying them around will suffice to keep my anxiety attacks at bay. The poets sing of placebos: Oh, a good placebo, who can find it? Its worth is above rubies. What would the copay be on an effective placebo? I’d pay rubies, sure.

Month 1 of DWYL: Year 2, is almost over. Year 2 is going to be even more scary interesting than Year 1 was, because Ben, my life partner and co-parent, has joined me in the quest of tying personal satisfaction to professional fulfillment. He has traded one FT, well-paying if soul-sucking job for a combination of two PT jobs, one of which is in what he thinks is his chosen field. I am still freelance. No benefits, no stability. This is, patently, crazy.