MONEY Airlines

WOW Indeed! Budget Airline Launches $99 Flights to Europe

WOW Iceland airplane
WOW

A low-fare airline called WOW just introduced new routes between the U.S. and Europe, with fares that are cheaper than what passengers are used to paying just for taxes and fees on transatlantic flights.

WOW Air is a small, low-cost carrier based in Iceland that just made a power move that could disrupt the lucrative—some say absurdly overpriced—transatlantic flight market in a big way. This week, the airline’s U.S. site went live, advertising specials as low as $99 each way, taxes and fees included, on routes between the U.S. and Europe.

Initial transatlantic service connects capital city Reykjavik to Boston-Logan and Baltimore-Washington (BWI) airports. Flights to and from Boston launch in March 2015, and BWI follows in June. WOW offers service from Reykavik-Keflavik onward to London (Gatwick) and Copenhagen as well, so passengers aren’t limited to visiting Iceland.

As of Friday, the lowest fare advertised on the site was for flights from Boston to Reykjavik. Availability is limited at the cheapest prices, but we were able to (theoretically) book a round trip in April 2015 for $246 ($99 going, $147 on the return), all taxes and fees included. For the sake of comparison, a round trip on Icelandair with the same route and dates was running $675 at last check.

Earlier this week the travel blog Jaunted was able to secure an April flight on WOW from Boston to Copenhagen (by way of Reykjavik) for $99, but it looks like such insanely cheap fares are already sold out. Even so, without too much hassle we were able to find flights next spring on the route that are bargains compared to the competition. For instance, you could conceivably book a round trip Boston-Copenhagen flight in May for around $450—roughly half the price of what you’d find for the same itinerary at any major travel search engine.

WOW’s fares from Washington (BWI) to Reykjavik start at $146 each way, while flights from BWI to London are currently being advertised from $195. Even if the cheapest fares sell out quickly, the (higher-priced) seats on WOW that are still available are likely to be much less expensive than flights with major airlines.

As you’d guess, WOW customers don’t get many extras with the rock-bottom prices they’re paying. Passengers must pay for both checked and carryon luggage, and services like food, beverages, and extra legroom are available only to customers who pay above and beyond the base ticket price.

WOW’s venture into the transatlantic market comes a little over a year after another northern European upstart, Norwegian Air, emerged on the scene with sub-$500 flights between the U.S. and Europe. The world’s largest airlines seem to have successfully thwarted Norwegian Air’s plans to expand its transatlantic presence, but the carrier is still flying a handful of U.S.-Europe routes and is still advertising fares far cheaper than any of the industry’s big players—as low as $169 each way between New York-JFK and Oslo and $189 for nonstop flights all the way from Oakland, Calif., to Stockholm, Sweden.

Like WOW, Norwegian Air lists fares with all mandatory taxes and fees included. That—as well as the long-awaited rise of low-cost competitors on transatlantic flights in general—is music to budget travelers’ ears.

Read next: The Secret to Getting a Ridiculously Cheap Thanksgiving Flight

MONEY Gas

Surprise: Gas Costs Less Than it Did a Decade Ago

The price of regular gasoline dropped to $2.659 per gallon at the Hi Tech Fuels station on Brainerd Road and other stations in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014.
The price of regular gasoline dropped to $2.659 per gallon in Chattanooga, Tenn., on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014. John Rawlston—AP

But you may still feel like you're paying more. Here's why.

Gas prices have been plunging lately. For consumers, that’s great! It’s more money in your pocket.

Gas now averages $3.07 a gallon nationwide, down from $3.60 in June and $3.30 a year ago. That’s billions of dollars of savings for U.S. households.

But gasoline is one of the few products whose prices we vividly remember. Behavioral economist Daniel Ariely once explained:

For the several minutes that I stand at the pump, all I do is stare at the growing total on the meter — there is nothing else to do. I have time to remember how much it cost a year ago, two years ago, and even six years ago.

Gas may be cheaper today than it was a year or two ago, but I’ve heard several people recently say, “Sure, but I remember when it was $1.50 a gallon!” That nostalgia makes us think we’re still paying a fortune at the pump.

But several other things have changed lately that affect the real price of gasoline:

  • The average car has a much better fuel economy today than it used to.
  • The average American is driving less than they used to.
  • Average nominal wages are higher today than they used to be.

You have to adjust for all three improvements to show the true price of gas, and the real impact it has on our wallets.

When you do, the real price of gas is lower today than it was a decade ago, and about the same as it was in the early 1990s:

Source: Department of Transportation, Energy Information Agency, Bureau of Labor Statistics. The formula used to calculate this graph is: (average gas prices/average hourly wages of nonsupervisory workers) * (annual miles driven per capita/average MPG of passenger cars).

One of the most important forces in economics is that people adapt. And that’s what you’re seeing here.

Gas prices surged in the early 2000s, so auto companies started building more fuel-efficient cars, which consumers demanded (as did new regulations).

Fuel-efficient cars used to be dinky little toys that you’d be embarrassed to drive. That’s changing. GM GENERAL MOTORS CO. GM -2.8775% CEO Mary Barra commented last month: “The customer has that expectation. It’s not an ‘or’, it’s an ‘and.’ They’re expecting to have winning vehicles, but also to have the fuel efficiency. It becomes a business priority.”

Consider: A 1999 Chevy Suburban got 18 miles per gallon and had 290 horsepower. A 2015 Suburban gets 23 miles per gallon with 355 horsepower.

High gas prices also likely played a role in pushing families from the suburbs into the cities, where commutes are shorter. As Reuters reports: “In 2010, a total of 80.7 percent of Americans lived in urban areas, up from 79 percent in 2000. Conversely, 19.3 percent of the U.S. population lived in rural areas in 2010, down from 21 percent in 2000.”

I’m not a fan of forecasts, because they’re pretty much all wrong. But here goes: Over the next 20 years we’ll see moderately higher gas prices combined with much better fuel economy. Taken together, this chart — with all its adjustments — won’t look too much different two decades from now than it does today.

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change,” Stephen Hawking said. And we are.

For more on this topic:

Morgan Housel has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends General Motors, and has a disclosure policy.

TIME deals

Spotify Finally Introduces a Family Plan

SWEDEN-MUSIC-COMPANY-SPOTIFY
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SOREN BILLING: A woman uses streaming service Spotify on March 7, 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden. JONATHAN NACKSTRAND—AFP/Getty Images

Up to four family members can subscribe at a 50% discount

Spotify announced plans Monday for a steeply discounted subscription option that enables up to five family members to subscribe to the digital streaming music service under one billing account.

The new offer, Spotify Family, enables up to four family members to join an existing subscriber’s ad-free Premium account, which costs $9.99 per month, at half the price. That discount would slash a family of five’s monthly bill from roughly $50 a month to $30 a month.

“This is one of the most asked for features from our audience,” Chief Content Officer Ken Parks said in an online statement.

Spotify Family will roll out worldwide over the next few weeks, the company said. The move follows a similar half-off discount that Spotify launched for college students in March as the company aggressively works to broaden its subscriber base.

MONEY online shopping

Believe it or Not, Amazon Is Not the King of Cheap Online Prices

Amazon logo
Lionel Bonaventure—AFP/Getty Images

A new report suggests that Amazon’s edge is not as strong as people think.

As far as conventional wisdom goes, Amazon.com AMAZON.COM INC. AMZN -8.3403% is the king of low-cost goods bought online; the Wal-Mart WAL-MART STORES INC. WMT 0.1705% of the Internet, so to speak.

And that’s largely true.

In its rise from a humble online peddler of books into the most feared, and dominant, name in online commerce, Amazon has used its willingness to undercut the competition to send more companies than I can fit in this space the way of the dodo (RIP Borders, et al). However, a recently released report suggests that Amazon’s supposed edge when it comes to low prices might not be as strong as some believe.

Inside the battle for e-commerce

Earlier this month, Wells Fargo and online sales tracking firm 360pi unveiled their findings from a full-year analysis of the various online pricing habits of the world’s largest e-commerce companies across over 100 commonly offered stock-keeping units. And as you’ve hopefully gleaned by now, the findings came with their fair share of surprises.

Perhaps the biggest single bombshell was that Amazon.com has lost a sales edge in four important categories to the likes of Wal-Mart and Target TARGET CORP. TGT -0.7416% . According to the report, both big-box retailers generally offered lower prices online than Amazon in the clothing and shoes, electronics, housewares, and health and cosmetics categories. However, the report also notes that Amazon typically offered the lowest prices when it came to “like-to-like” specifics goods.

This comes as a surprise for longtime followers of Amazon and implies that online pricing software used by Wal-Mart and Target, which scans competitors’ prices and adjusts accordingly, has grown sophisticated enough to compete against Amazon’s own pricing bots. Specifically, the reports says Wal-Mart’s pricing in the four categories sat an astounding 10% lower than Amazon’s as of August and that Target enjoyed a 5% pricing advantage as well. The report acknowledges that the pricing survey didn’t account for the cost of shipping and taxes, areas where Amazon enjoys advantages with its Prime shipping service and its notorious state tax policies.

Either way, this new report certainly calls into question the conventional wisdom that it’s simply Amazon and then everyone else in the online retail space these days.

The bigger e-commerce picture

Still, I think this report misses the point to a large extent by painting Amazon in a negative light on pricing without discussing the overall profit opportunity online.

As Amazon.com and its online peers have been around for a generation now, it’s easy to fall into the trap of categorizing e-commerce as a whole as a somewhat mature business. In fact, the opposite is true. When viewed in the broader context of the entire U.S. economy, online retail sales represent a veritable drop in the bucket. See for yourself.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

With online sales in the U.S. consistently setting fresh all-time highs, it’s also important to understand just how paltry a percentage of total retail transactions they really represent: just 6.2% in the first quarter of the year. And this only reflects the new record figure in a technologically advanced market. Viewed globally, this figure is almost assuredly smaller and it represents a large opportunity for all e-commerce retailers.

There’s no question that the stakes are extremely high in online retail. As I’ve mentioned before, the only free lunch you get in broad-based retail sales are economies of scale. As the global e-commerce boom progresses over the next generation, the companies that control the greatest share of the proverbial pie will have the strongest hand. And both Amazon and Wal-Mart excel in online retail.

Foolish thoughts

Historically, Amazon has always outflanked other online retail outlets. However, owing to the stakes and its well-documented tenacity, it was probably never realistic for the media or investing community to expect a company like Wal-Mart to go quietly into that good night. So while this storyline gives Amazon’s dominance in the growing battle for online sales supremacy, it’s by no means the end of the story, and that is certainly worth noting.

Andrew Tonner has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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TIME deals

Facebook Completes Its $22 Billion Purchase of WhatsApp

Social Networks Facebook WhatsApp.
Marie Waldmann—Photothek/Getty Images

The final hurdle in the deal was crossed on Friday, when the E.U. approved the purchase after much resistance from Europe’s telecommunications industry

Facebook officially sealed its massive purchase of WhatsApp, a report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission stated, with a final price of about $22 billion. The popular instant-messaging app has been operating independently since agreeing to an acquisition by the social-media giant back in February, but the finalizing of the deal is undoubtedly a step toward greater support, and control, from Facebook.

Ukrainian immigrant Jan Koum and former Yahoo engineer Brian Acton, the founders of WhatsApp, pocketed $6.8 billion and $3.5 billion in the deal respectively, according to Forbes. Koum will also get a seat on the board, where his $1 salary will match that of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The final hurdle in the deal was crossed on Friday, when the E.U. approved the purchase after much resistance from Europe’s telecommunications industry.

“We have carefully reviewed this proposed acquisition and come to the conclusion that it would not hamper competition in this dynamic and growing market,” the Wall Street Journal reported the E.U.’s antitrust chief Joaquín Almunia as stating.

WhatsApp, with over 600 million users across Europe, Asia and the Americas, presents an immense opportunity for Facebook, although how it will be used remains to be seen.

TIME Paycheck Friday

5 Unique Junk-Food Gadgets for Under $70

Come on, you're making some decent money now. Live a little! Consider blowing your paycheck on these worthy splurges.

Condiment Gun ($9.99)

condiment_gun
ThinkGeek

Take a moment right now to reexamine your life. Have you lived it to its fullest? Think long and hard about your past condiment dispersals. Have they all been from easy-open packets and plastic containers?

It’s time to live – LIVE! – thanks to this condiment gun. Load it up with your favorite fatty, sugary slatherables (there are two cartridges), pull the trigger and blast your way to satiety – no concealed-carry permit required.

[ThinkGeek]

Hand-Crank Flan Maker ($49)

flan-egg
Japan Trend Shop

For starters, I was not aware that flan was made simply by jumbling an egg around for a couple minutes, boiling it for 30 seconds and then dumping some caramel sauce on top of it. That seems way too easy, but what do I know? I can’t even make toast, which is supposed to be easy.

This adorable hand-crank apparatus promises “custard flan-style desert” by following the aforementioned steps, and as a bonus, offers this must-see video detailing the process. The somber scene of an egg jovially singing the flan-making song before watching one of his friends being spun to death should not be lost on anyone:

[Japan Trend Shop]

Indoor S’mores Maker ($69.95)

smores
Hammacher Schlemmer

Admit it: You bought this thing without even reading about it. What combination of words could I possibly cobble together with my extremely limited vocabulary in order to do this product justice? It’s an indoor S’mores maker.

Again, this is an indoors S’mores maker. It allows you to make S’mores inside.

Blizzard? No problem. Hurricane? Fine with me. Armageddon? Leave me alone, my chocolate has reached the perfect melting point. There’s even a circumferential tray that holds your marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate. Come on, now.

[Hammacher Schlemmer]

Car Grill ($50)

car grill
12 Volts Plus

You’ve heard the sayings: Work smarter, not harder. Time is money. Madge, I soaked in it.

Maybe strike that last one, but the first two are relevant here. Won’t you just look like a genius using your morning commute to fry up some greasy, crackling pig meat on this 12-volt grill. Hey, throw a hash brown on there while you’re at it. Crack an egg or two.

No need to feel guilty, either. The sloped grill drains grease down into a bottom-mounted receptacle that definitely (probably, maybe, who knows) won’t cause any spillage when you sink your front tire into that pothole or bottom out while going over that speed bump.

[12 Volts Plus]

App-Connected Baking Kit ($69.99)

perfect bake
Perfect Bake

You’re not anal; you’re particular. If a recipe calls for a cup of flour, who are you to eyeball it? Quit playing God!

Thankfully, this app-connected baking kit ensures that everything gets measured out perfectly – right down to the ounce.

Put a bowl on the scale, connect the scale to your phone or tablet and pull up one of the hundreds of included recipes. The app will tell you which ingredients to add and will adjust the measurements on the fly if you overpour. Not that you would ever, ever, ever overpour. Can you imagine? What a nightmare! You’re not anal. You’re not anal.

[Brookstone]

Past Nonsense:

TIME How-To

Shop Amazon Smarter with These Quick Tricks

Amazon
Daniel Acker -- Bloomberg / Getty Images

Many of us have shopped Amazon for years without really digging into some of its handier features. Here’s a quick list of tips and tricks.

Get Alerts When Prices Drop

If you’re keeping an eye on a particular product, you can get alerts when its price drops. Head over to CamelCamelCamel.com, create an account and set up an alert. If the item is in stock and dips below the price threshold you set for it, you’ll be notified.

If you’re not sure what you want, you can check out the most highly discounted items in the site’s Top Drops section.

Get Alerts When Out-of-Stock Items Are Available Again

You can set up this trick directly from Amazon’s site. If an item you want is out of stock, click the “Email me” button to the right of the item’s heading.

To check which items you’re tracking, head to the Availability Alert section of your account to get an overview of which items are back in stock or to cancel alerts for items you don’t care about anymore.

Share Two-Day Prime Shipping with Someone

If you pay $100 a year for Amazon Prime — which includes free two-day shipping on many items, free streaming video, free streaming music and free ebooks — you can share the two-day shipping privileges (but not the other goodies) with up to four family members.

Head over to Manage Prime Membership, and click “Invite a Household Member.” Then enter the person’s name, how they’re related to you, their email address and their birthday. Don’t worry: You can remove people later to make space for new additions as your family bonds strengthen and wither.

Get Text Alerts for Shipment Updates

If you want to keep a close eye on that American Girl doll you ordered for yourse—err…daughter, you can sign up to receive text messages while it’s being shipped.

Head to the Shipment Updates via Text section of your account and enter your mobile number to sign up. Thankfully — or unfortunately, depending how closely you want to track the item – you’ll only get texts between 10am and 11pm Eastern time. No middle-of-the-night wakeup dings, in other words.

Fine Tune Your Email Subscriptions

You can subscribe to get emails about specific item categories sent with varying frequency by checking out the E-Mail Subscriptions section of your account. There, you’ll find everything from apps to wine, along with several subsections for each.

Re-Watch Videos You’ve Purchased

Amazon offers many of its digital videos as time-limited rentals, but if you choose to purchase a video outright, you can watch it again and again. All the movies and TV shows you own can be found in the Your Video Library section of Amazon Instant Video.

Find Items You’ve Looked At Recently

You can take a quick walk down memory lane by cruising the Browsing History section of your account. There, you’ll find a list of recently-ogled items, and can delete items you don’t want showing up in your history at all.

If you want to turn off your browsing history altogether, head over to the Manage Your Browsing History section.

Turn Off Ads That Have Been Personalized to You

Amazon uses your shopping behavior to personalize ads for you based on what the company thinks you like. You might see these ads on Amazon itself or on other websites that display Amazon ads. You can turn off this personalization by heading to the Advertising Preferences section of your account. Note that you’ll still see Amazon ads here and there; they just won’t be personalized to your tastes.

Sell Your Stuff to Other Amazon Shoppers

If you own an item that Amazon is selling, you can sell it yourself directly to other buyers. It’s a pretty quick and simple process.

It doesn’t apply to just any item, but if an item’s eligible, you’ll see a “Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon” link below the “Add to Cart” button on the right-hand side of the product page.

Click the “Sell on Amazon” button, select the item’s condition, the quantity you’re selling, and then set the price. You can upload a photo of the item, too, if you like.

If you choose to ship the item yourself, Amazon will reimburse you for shipping charges. If you want to sell a bunch of items, you can ship them all to Amazon and have the company ship items out to buyers as they sell. Regardless of your shipping method, Amazon will take a cut of each sale; the fee depends on the type of product but it usually isn’t too outrageous.

Have 0.5% of Your Order Go to Charity

Instead of going to Amazon.com to buy stuff, simply go to AmazonSmile.com and select a charity first. There are a handful of spotlight charities to choose from, but you can search for other eligible charities as well. Once that’s set up, you’ll be dropped off at Amazon to shop as you normally would.

If you see an item that says “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” below the price on the product page, your charity of choice will get half a percent of the item’s purchase price when you check out.

TIME deals

DreamWorks Animation Mulls Selling to a Japan Bank

Shrek Dreamworks
Dreamworks

Studio’s board reportedly met last week to consider the $3.4 billion bid

DreamWorks Animation, the studio owned by film executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, may have unexpectedly found a buyer in Japan’s SoftBank.

SoftBank, the telecommunications company owned by billionaire Masayoshi Son, offered $32 per share for DreamWorks, a 43% premium to the stock’s closing price Friday, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The DreamWorks board held an emergency meeting last week to consider the $3.4 billion bid, though no official decision has yet to be made.

At this stage, SoftBank is only in talks with the animation company. The deal has not been formally considered by senior executives and at this point is unlikely to be finalized, sources told Bloomberg News.

DreamWorks CEO Katzenberg had previously looked for a buyer for the animation studio. His company has struggled at the box-office in recent years, losing money on such offerings as “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” which required a $57 million write down. To try to cover losses on the film side, Katzenberg has invested heavily in the television business, including purchasing online video network Awesomeness TV.

SoftBank has significant financial stores to afford the purchase, especially after Alibaba Group went public on Sept. 19. The company holds more than 30% of Alibaba’s shares, which have a market value worth more than $70 billion.

The Japanese telecommunications company has been looking to expand in U.S. media and technology sectors. SoftBank failed to close the deal on its offer to buy T-Mobile US because of regulatory conflicts.

DreamWorks recent expansion into China could make the studio more valuable to SoftBank, especially given its close ties to Alibaba.

Katzenberg helped create Oriental DreamWorks in 2012 in partnership with two other Chinese media companies. The China-based studio produces local-language animation and will co-produce “Kung Fu Panda 3″ in partnership with U.S. DreamWorks.

Alibaba has invested in media assets, including China’s largest online video site Youku Tudou, and is developing a streaming service with California-based Lions Gate.

Katzenberg would likely stay on with DreamWorks. Hollywood Reporter says he would stay for five years to head the studio after an acquisition by SoftBank.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

MONEY

Wake Up! Monday Is National Coffee Day and There’s Free Coffee to Be Had

A sea of to-go coffee cups
Paul Kooiman—Gallery Stock

On Monday, September 29, a.k.a. National Coffee Day, plenty of regional and national restaurant chains will pour you a coffee for free—or at most, $1.

Fake marketing holiday or not, Monday, Sept. 29 is being celebrated as National Coffee Day, and that means free (or nearly so) coffee can be had at several donut, fast food, and coffee specialists around the country. Here’s where to score an extra jolt of caffeine on the cheap:

Dunkin’ Donuts: All customers get a free medium cup of Dark Roast CoffeeDD’s new flavor, a surprising one from the chain—on September 29, and from September 30 to October 5, the same coffee (medium size Dark Roast) is being sold at the special price of 99¢.

Kangaroo Express: A 12 oz. cup of the convenience store chain’s Bean Street Coffee costs just 1¢ from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Monday.

Krispy Kreme: Help yourself to a free cup of 12 oz. coffee, or get $1 off a mocha, latte, or ice coffee.

Lamar’s Donuts: The Colorado-based donut chain is giving away free 12 oz. coffees on National Donut Day.

McDonald’s: Monday is actually the culmination of a two-week coffee giveaway at McDonald’s, which has provided one complimentary small coffee during morning hours since September 16.

Original Brooklyn Water Bagel Co.: Customers get a free coffee (hot or ice) with the purchase of any menu item.

Peet’s Coffee & Tea: Participating stores are giving free samples of coffee and espresso, and all beverages are available on a buy-one-get-one-free basis; also, bags of coffee (ground or whole bean) are discounted by $2 apiece at Peet’s on Monday.

Tim Horton’s: The Canadian quick-serve chain gave out free donuts on National Donut Day, but sadly, customers have to cough up actual money for coffee on National Coffee Day. Any size coffee costs $1, and the promotion stretches from September 22 to 29.

Wawa: Fill out a form linked to from the Wawa Facebook page and you’ll get a coupon valid for a free 16 oz. coffee on Monday.

TIME Paycheck Friday

5 Unique Sleep Gadgets for Under $60

Come on, you're making some decent money now. Live a little! Consider blowing your paycheck on these worthy splurges.

Cool or Hot Pillow Pad ($32.75)

GelO_Cool_Pillow_Mat
Human Creations

Your blind date was going well until you embarrassed yourself by passing gas more loudly than a tanker truck replenishing the pumps at 7-11. Back home – alone, natch – your face gets red hot every time you replay the unfortunate incident in your head.

The Gel’O Cool Pillow Mat can cool your face down as you’re trying to fall asleep. Just pop it in the fridge or freezer before bedtime, place it on top of your pillow and then lay your shameful head down. During the winter months, you can shove it in the microwave to heat it up instead.

[Human Creations]

White Noise Machine ($54.95)

LectroFan
LectroSound

You live in a studio apartment with paper-thin walls above a rowdy bar and below a 24-hour daycare center full of teething babies with colic. Next door is a 24-hour doggy day care heralded for its innovative use of outdoor-only barking zones. Across the street is a gun range. That’s 24 hours, too.

This highly-rated white noise/fan-sounds machine is small enough to travel with,

but gets loud enough to drown out even the most egregious hoopla. Not that you’d want to take a vacation: Your place sounds nice!

[Amazon]

Blue-Glow Sleep Mask ($39.99)

sleep mask
Sharper Image

You bring your work home with you. It’s not easy collecting soil samples for a living. All the second-guessing! Did I use the correct trowel? Should I be rotating my wrist to the left or to the right? And how many degrees?!

Thoughts like this normally keep you up at night, but this fancy sleep mask can help you relax your mind by bathing your eyeballs in a soft blue light meant to shift your brain from its beta phase to its alpha phase. Even without the blue-glow feature, the wraparound mask blocks out light while leaving room for your eyes to breathe.

[Sharper Image]

NASA Light Bulb ($59.95)

NASA bulb
Hammacher Schlemmer

At first blush, a $60 light bulb sounds expensive. But you know what’s marginally more expensive? Going to space. That’s what you’d otherwise have to do in order to use this thing. So if you think about it, this NASA light bulb pretty much pays for itself after all the trips you won’t take to space.

You’re supposed to use it in a bedside lamp for a half hour before you go to sleep so it can ramp up your melatonin levels. You can optionally use it at your next dinner party to see if you can get your guests to pass out in their soup.

[Hammacher Schlemmer]

Sonic Boom Alarm Clock ($39.10)

sonic boom
Sonic Bomb

“Enough with trying to get me to fall asleep!” you bellow, slamming your hammy fists on your particle-board workspace as anger-spit forms in the corners of your mouth. “I can’t wake up!”

For you, there’s this ridiculously loud alarm clock.

I sleep and wake like a normal person, so this thing sounds awful. A 113-decibel alarm? Pass. A vibration doodad so powerful it can shake your entire bed? No, thank you. Flashing red lights? I’m good, thanks. There’s nothing quite like being terrified first thing in the morning.

[Amazon]

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