OpHippie: the shopping situation

Well, I went and did it. I didn’t mean to, but I did it.

I spent the bus fare home.

How? One “buying pizza for a friend” and one trip to Army Navy for supplies. That’s all it takes to zero out the bank account lately: a pizza with wine and a months worth of batteries.

Well, actually:

4 D batteries for LED lamp
The cheapest LED lamp they had
4AA batteries for the headlamp, making midnight firewood runs with the wheelbarrow much, much easier
A paperback on living off the sea by a local fisherman
Three space blankets to use as wallpaper to keep the heat in
One fluorescent poncho
One fish grilling basket
Three candles
A lighter
Garden trowel for clam digging

And that’s it. That’s all it takes. $85.81. So I emailed my ex-boss to see if he could pay the remainder he owes me tonight or tomorrow instead of month’s end. Wish me luck!

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The Nightmare of Brooklyn Real Estate: a reality check from 1905

As many events in my life are, this post was sparked by a discussion on Gawker (lately, it’s the rare one which doesn’t center around how awful Kinja is becoming, and god knows, it started out badly).

Yuppies have apparently Burst Williamsburg’s Borders, Spilling Out in All Directions.

I imagine that looked something like this.

…and was welcomed by the locals in much the same spirit.

Now, I’m going to make a radical proposal. There will be mucho blowback on this controversial statement; of that I am well aware. My lawyers are standing by, along with a team of trained PR ninjas, to ensure we all come out of the ensuing melee with our orthodontistry intact.

I’m going to say that the gentrification of Brooklyn has been going on for more than a century. It’s true! There never was a time when it was “the undiscovered country!” And there never really was a time when anyone was happy to move out of Manhattan and across a bridge, unless they were getting out of the MCC.

Here’s your proof. Memory is a wonderful thing, my friends, for lo, it has enabled me to read a Gawker post about sprawling colonialism in Brooklyn and tie it to this comic, from Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend, a marvelous collection of turn of the last century but one comics, all based on nightmares from having had too much Welsh Rarebit. I must test this theory out on the ol’ drinkscoaster blog someday, and snarf a whole Welsh Rarebit just before bed, preferably with the kind of beer that just gets gassier the farther along the gastrointestinal tract it gets.

From the brilliantly twisted mind of Winsor McCay, and from the readers who sent in their dreams for illustrations (or the stories he made up when nobody was forthcoming; was this the first Overheard In model in history?), not to mention the good people at the Comic Strip Library,  comes this panel. True then as now, down to the olde timey get-ups and the novelty smoking equipment.

Brooklyn Real Estate Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend

Brooklyn Real Estate Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend

Operation Hippie Update

Soon to be me. Titania, queen of hippie fisherpersons

Soon to be me. Titania, queen of hippie fisherpersons

So, preparing to move from a nomadic, cat-sitting existence to a geostationary one, and one in a vegan ecovillage at that, is proving to be somewhat of a bigger shift than even I realized.

For starters, there’s the busfare to get there, which I do not have. Nor will I have it until one of my clients pays me, and I just split from the biggest-paying one by mutual consent. Yeah, I sent in The Last Invoice, but it’ll be Monday before it’ll be paid, and then it’ll be paid in Paypal, so to get it to the bank will be no sooner than Wednesday, probably Friday of next week and that’s IF it gets paid Monday. And once the money is there, if I’m there also, there’s nothing to buy up there but nights in a B&B and whale watching tours.

So I made Mine Hosts Metro and Mrs Metro an offer they could refuse, but fortunately they didn’t. I will give them the money that would go for bus fare if they will drive me. They can then use this to get a night in a swanky B&B or hotel. This guarantees that I get the back seat of the car, but oh well, it also guarantees I don’t have to sit beside a random homicidal maniac who will hog the armrest. It also means they can drive me to the actual site instead of dropping me off where the highway meets the road and I get a nice long walk down a gravel shoulder before turning up a dirt road in the middle of the rainforest, all while toting three heavy suitcases filled with everything I’ve been wearing for the past nine or ten months.

My footwear collection, also being ported around all over BC in said suitcases, consists of one pair of metallic wedge sandals, one pair Doc Marten Mary Janes, and two pairs of Brooks running shoes made of mesh. Absolutely nothing of the rain boot gum boot variety. And that is the single most necessary type of footwear when approaching an ecovillage on the west side of Vancouver Island in the dead of winter.

When I show up to the ecovillage, I am expected to be self-sufficient and bring food. They have kale; anything else, I’ll have to lug in. Since I am not and do not wish to become a Kaletarian, this means I have to buy food (too busy to catch my own, and the hunting is atrocious in downtown Victoria, although I hear at certain bars it’s easy to catch crabs).

And I have $1.90.

So, being me, I bitched about this on social media.

And, my friends being my friends, one of them sent me $100 so I could buy some goddam boots, two offered to mail me their boots (postage is $40 or so from Vancouver, though), and one offered me a job doing copywriting for his companies. He asked if I needed an advance, and told me to name my own rate. He trusted me to do that honestly in part because when my friend, who is between jobs, offered me the $100 I posted about it and asked my friends if I should take it or turn it down.

As it turned out, I turned down the mailed boots as the postage was truly extravagant and I could buy boots at the end of the month anyway, and accepted the money on the advice to pay it forward.

Then I went to LL Bean and found out the boots I wanted were 37% off, but they were also sold out until April 22, and a fat lot of good that does me. MOST of their boots are sold out, which means everyone is having a pretty shitty, slushy winter. So tomorrow I’m off to do some shopping in downtown Victoria.

My shopping list is a bit different now. When I lived in Vancouver’s Chinatown my shopping lists looked like:

  • sambal oeleck
  • udon noodles
  • bean thread noodles
  • peanut butter (the universe’s most perfect food)
  • prawns
  • salmon
  • chicken
  • soy sauce (you could always tell when I was “rich” because then I’d have three kinds: Indonesian, Japanese for sushi, and Chinese for rice)
  • bok choy
  • onions
  • makeup
  • nail polish in outrageous colours
  • antique or collectable cocktail accoutrements
  • gin

My shopping list for tomorrow reads:

  • gumboots
  • keeper cord for my $150 Akubra hat so the wind doesn’t blow it away
  • crab trap so I can catch my own food
  • fishing rod
  • bean thread noodles
  • peanut butter
  • sambal oeleck (some things never change)
  • bag of oranges in case of scurvy or some goddam thing
  • coffee and GOD I HOPE THEY HAVE A COFFEE POT IN THE COMMUNAL KITCHEN

It would be nice to get some glasses before I leave (the kind for your face, not the kind for your cocktails) so I could actually SEE the view, but maybe I’ll squeeze in an eye exam at least. Metro and Madame Metro have promised me glasses for Christmas. If not, once I’m paid I can just wander into town and I’m sure there’s a doctor there who can write a prescription that Clearly Contacts will mail.

So, basically, gasp in wonder at my steez. My swag. My YOLO. My command of buzzwords.

And my D*CK!

Someone’s going to be MADD at these guys

Now, is that a social media fail, or a marketing fail, or a just plain tragic any-way-you-look-at-it fail? Whatever it is, you just stay classy, Zimbabwe, you stay classy!

Fast Food, Slow Progress

Can your family survive on fast food worker wages? That’s the question do-gooder icon Mother Jones put to readers recently, and although it’s a cliche, the answer really might surprise you. It might, in fact, horrify you. It sure did me.

Struggles by fast food workers for a living wage have been in the news for some time. Unlike waitstaff in traditional restaurants, they either don’t earn tips or earn negligible amounts ($15 a week was average when I worked for Starbucks twenty years ago).

Minimum wage is survivable provided one has a secure, affordable living situation and guaranteed hours, but guaranteed hours are a rarity in the industry. In the UK, McDonalds has made front page news for its commitment to so-called zero hour contracts which offer the workers anything from no work to overtime, as it suits the employer. Labour MP Andy Sawford responds, “In the ordering of their food they know how to identify customer levels so they cook the right amount, so they could use that same information with staff levels and give employees more certainty.”

This week, fast food workers around the country are set for escalating job action in New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Milwaukee, Kansas City and Flint, demanding a wage of $15 an hour and the right to unionize without management interference. The actions are supported and coordinated by the Service Employees International Union. “We are slowly dying,” striker Terrence Wise told Democracy Now.

So what does it actually take to live on a fast food salary, if the right wing media is to be believed and granting the wage increase would cripple the nation’s Happy Meal capability, leading to a dangerous international burger imbalance?

The Mother Jones calculator queries your household size (just me and the cats, but they’re big eaters), your state (Canuckistan, but I picked Washington because, well, I’ve been there and it looks a lot like Vancouver), your city (provided your household is larger than one; singles it seems can fit in anywhere), and how much you make in a year (good question; I estimated $30,000 this year). Then it spits out a rather shocking statistic.

To earn $30,000 a year working as a fast food worker, I’d have to work 64 hours a week. The average number of hours a fast food employee receives is less than 25, and I have seven years at Starbucks that confirm it.

A household like yours in Washington needs to earn $18,245 annually to make a secure yet modest living. A fast-food worker working full time would have to earn $8.74 an hour to make that much.

The average fast-food employee works less than 25 hours a week. To make a living wage in Washington at current median wages, s/he would have to work 39 hours a week.

In 39 hours, McDonald’s serves 112,125,000 customers and makes $122,394,480. That’s about 30,598,620 Big Macs.

As author Barbara Ehrenreich pointed out in her book Nickel and Dimed, while companies repeatedly claim their employees like the flexibility of the scheduling, interviews with the actual employees indicate a labor force that would prefer standardized hours, preferably full time. With an increasing proportion of breadwinners vs students in the staffing pool, that demand is a very real call to action and challenge to the industry. ThinkProgress reports that if hourly wages on the front line doubled, the price of a Big Mac would go up a whopping (see what I did there) 68 cents.

While six-figure think tankers continue to wrestle with the problem, the Pew Research Center reveals that women are the primary breadwinners in 40% of US families, and that the average income for a single mother who has never married is $17,400.

She’d better get a second, or a third, job.