TIME Tourism

Ski Resorts Want You to Pay for Next Season’s Skiing Right Now

Resorts are trying to get skiers locked in as loyal guests next season—and simultaneously keep them away from competitor mountains—with major deals for early-bird purchases.

America’s biggest ski resorts are at it again. For a variety of reasons, starting with recent seasons of less-than-stellar snow and ending with increasingly aggressive tactics in the pursuit of customer loyalty throughout the industry, resort companies are upping their game to convince skiers and boarders that they should pay for next season’s skiing mere days after the current season has ended.

And how do they get customers to commit so far in advance? By waving special offers that are often so good customers can’t refuse.

Two of the industry’s biggest players, Vail Resorts and Intrawest, make it easy even for those who are currently struggling to pay off credit card bills related to the ski season just in the rear-view mirror, by allowing customers to lock in pass prices now with only a $49 down payment. Once that’s been paid, the company has your credit card information—and before next ski season begins, your card will automatically be charged for the balance.

Vail, which owns and operates ten major ski resorts, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Heavenly, and Kirkwood, offers a wide variety of passes. The unrestricted Epic Pass is at the top price-wise, running $729 (up $40 from special prices available last summer), with a range of cheaper options for special buyer categories (kids, seniors, college students) and for skiers who can live with more restrictions (blackout dates, fewer resorts, etc.). Considering that a single-day walkup ticket can run well over $100 at a place like Vail, it’s easy to see how these season passes are well worth the money for even a moderate skier who figures to log in, say, 10 or 12 days of making turns each winter.

For diehards putting in a few dozen days per season on the mountain, these passes are no-brainers. They’re probably even underpriced. Why, then, do ski companies keep prices so low?

The big reason is that they want skiers to commit their money—and their loyalty—early, long before anyone can tell if the season’s snow will be good or bad (and potentially not worth the trip at all). They also want customers to commit because doing so largely eliminates the possibility that these skiers will wind up spending a day, let alone an entire week’s vacation, at a competitor resort. After you’ve already coughed up a few hundred bucks for a pass, after all, you’ll want to use it rather than paying more money out of pocket.

The ski companies are also well aware of the powerful trickle-down effect of selling one pass. The likely result is that the passholder will wind up spending money in resort-area restaurants, bars, and hotels, perhaps over the course of seven, ten, or many more days. And pass purchases beget pass purchases, as skiers and boarders tend to buy passes at the same places as their skier and boarder family and friends.

In fact, the Intrawest Passport pushes group sales by directly incentivizing family and friends to buy their passes together. One adult pass, which grants six days of mountain access at each of the company’s six North American resorts (including Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado, Stratton in Vermont, and Tremblant in Quebec), costs $589. But up to five additional adult passes purchased at the same time cost $449 each, and up to five kids ages 12 and under are totally free. The deal gets more appealing when you add more people to the mix—and bringing more customers to Intrawest’s resorts is exactly what the company wants.

Each of the many ski pass programs in North America features different price points and inclusions, but they all have one thing in common: They want your money asap. Intrawest is only guaranteeing current pricing through April 30. The Mountain Collective, which provides two days apiece at resorts like Whistler-Blackcomb and Aspen-Snowmass and 50% off the regular rate thereafter, is throwing in an extra free day at your choice of mountains for a vague “while supplies last” period. The Mountain Collective pass is now $359, up from $349 last season, and runs $99 for kids 12 and under.

Another pass partnership, the Powder Alliance, hasn’t announced its policies for the upcoming season yet. If they remained unchanged from 2013-2014, all season passholders from a dozen resorts will automatically get three free days each at all of the other participating resorts, including Stevens Pass in Washington, Crested Butte in Colorado, Snowbasin in Utah, and Schweitzer in Idaho. And yes, you can expect discounts for buying passes early. The pricing at Schweitzer, for instance, generally calls for 2014-2015 passes to rise by $100 as of June 1. The takeaway is pretty obvious: Smart skiers will want to lock in a lower price now.

TIME society

No Salary, No Benefits, No Sleep: This Is The World’s Toughest Job

Only the strong survive

A company placed this classified ad looking to fill a Director of Operations position.

The job had a mandatory 135+ hours a week of work and required the job holder to be on call at all times, day or night. Qualified candidates should have a knowledge of psychology, medicine, personal finance, culinary arts and basic technology skills. The job also had physical requirements: the ability to stand for hours, lift up to 75 pounds, be constantly moving and operate on little to no sleep.

While the nation’s jobless claims may have dropped to the lowest levels since 2007, 24 people responded to the job posting at Rehtom, Inc., even though the position offered no medical or dental benefits, no pension and no paid holidays, but did offer “infinite opportunities for personal growth and rewards.”

The 24 applicants were interviewed via webcam. That’s when they got the surprise of their life. The video is worth watching all the way to the end.

[Via Adweek]

MORE: It Doesn’t Matter Where You Go to College

MORE: Here Are the Absolute Best (and Worst) Jobs of the Future

TIME Internet

The Facebook Baby Invasion Is Probably Just a Figment of Your Imagination

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Children and tablet computer Getty Images

It seems like baby pics are everywhere, but your mind might be playing tricks on you

Last year, I experienced a Facebook trauma that made me question if I could ever trust my News Feed again. There I was, scrolling away and minding my own business, when the photo of a sonogram popped up: “The arrow is pointing at baby’s scrotum/peepee!!” the caption exalted. “That’s our boy!!! Mommy and Daddy love you soooo much!!!!” For some reason, I hadn’t registered that this would be my News Feed’s natural progression after all of those engagement ring, “OMG I SAID YES, NOW CHECK OUT THIS ROCK!,” photo shoots. And like that, I started seeing baby Facebook photos everywhere.

Or maybe, like many other Internety 20-somethings, I was just being melodramatic. Because according to a piece on Wired, which enlisted the help of Microsoft Research computer scientist Meredith Ringel Morris, there really aren’t that many baby photos out there.

After a child is born, Morris discovered, new mothers post less than half as often. When they do post, fewer than 30 percent of the updates mention the baby by name early on, plummeting to not quite 10 percent by the end of the first year. Photos grow as a chunk of all postings, sure—but since new moms are so much less active on Facebook, it hardly matters.

New moms undershare. I’m probably more likely to see someone taking a selfie with Crab Cakes Eggs Benedict than their progeny. But I am probably less prone to be shocked by bacon and eggs than I am by a peer entering the parenthood stage of life.

Morris said that another reason why baby photos might seem to show up more frequently could be because they get a disproportionate amount of likes and, thus, get promoted on feeds. I’ll admit, I panicked and liked the “Peepee” shot… I’m part of the problem!

So what it all comes down to is, we all need to chill out and stop whining about the baby pictures. Even though some people definitely do overshare—a Twitter employee recently live tweeted her own labor—it’s not that big of a deal.

[Wired]

TIME feminism

What Stay-at-Home Moms Need: Dad to Do the Dishes

The economy is pushing more women than ever to stay home — and, sadly, having a husband doesn't ease the burden

Stay-at-home mothers — those allegedly latte-drinking ladies who spend their days playing tennis and getting their nails done; who are never late for school pickup because they’re already in the building dropping off teacher appreciation treats or reorganizing recycled toilet paper tubes — have long been the women we’ve all loved to hate.

But now we might just have to reconsider.

The Pew Research Center just came out with a report that turns the stay-at-home mother stereotype on its head in favor of a couple of much more thought-provoking truths. Namely:

1. Stay-at-home mothers aren’t “elite” women.

2. They aren’t really having a whole lot of fun.

The Pew report shows that stay-at-home mothers tend to be younger and less educated than mothers who work; almost half have a high school diploma or less, compared to 30 percent of working mothers.

It also indicates that they are less likely than working mothers to be white, and more likely to be immigrants. More striking still: Fully a third of stay-at-home mothers are living in poverty, compared to 12 percent of working mothers.

Many, as has long been true, aren’t home out of choice, but because circumstances (read: no work, or poorly paid work and no child care) have chosen for them. Interestingly, in the wake of the Great Recession, they’ve become more willing to share this sorry truth. According to Pew, the percentage of stay-at-home mothers who will openly admit that they are home with their children because they can’t find a job has increased from 1 percent to 6 percent since 2000.

There is one way that stay-at-home mothers have it easier than working moms: They have more leisure time, and get more sleep. But the Pew research suggests they’re a whole lot more likely to be watching Real Housewives sagas (while folding laundry and/or feeding babies) than living them. Married or not, well-off or not, they’re largely on their own when it comes to things like cleaning up and taking care of the kids. In fact, the Pew report shows, being married actually makes their work load heavier; stay-at-home mothers with husbands spend more time on child care and housework and have less leisure time (six full hours per week less) than do their single at-home counterparts.

How could that be?

For Wendy Wang, the Pew Research Associate who wrote the report’s chapter on time use, the greater number of total hours spent on child care by married stay-at-home mothers points to socioeconomic factors. Married stay-at-home mothers tend to be better educated, she told me this week, and as a result are better versed in the imperatives of time-intensive child-rearing: the singing, reading, talking, and playing games that in-the-know mothers understand they must do. As to housework: The latest Pew data don’t provide any interpretation, though a layperson’s answer might quite simply be that husbands make messes, and don’t necessarily clean them up. And as for leisure, well, just because a man is present, doesn’t mean his home-laboring wife gets a break.

“You only have 24 hours in the day,” Wang speculated to me about what goes through fathers’ heads when they walk through the door and don’t lend a hand. “And if you’re working full-time, you only have limited hours available.”

Those available hours for helping out with bath time and bedtime and vegetable chopping are made even shorter if a man has a schedule heavy in television-watching. (On average, fathers enjoy about three hours more personal leisure time per week than do mothers, Pew reported last fall, and most of that time is spent watching TV. For reasons not entirely known, Moms are also six times more likely than dads to report they feel “stressed” while relaxing.)

In sum: Stay-at-home mothers don’t need to be objects of our collective, envious projected fantasies about lifestyles of the rich and unsalaried — but a lot of them do need our help. They need ESL classes and job training; access to work that pays a livable wage, and, among other forms of parenting support, access to affordable, high-quality child care.

They also, quite frankly, if married, need their husbands to step up to the plate and give them a break. Full-time child rearing and care of a home is work — unpaid, undervalued, often overwhelming and emotionally draining work. It’s work that, while revered by Mother’s Day cards, comes with none of the financial empowerment of paid labor, and brings much less personal empowerment, too.

The proof: At the end of a long day, just look at who’s watching TV, and who’s doing the dishes.

Warner, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, is the author, most recently, of We’ve Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication.

TIME Family

Here’s the First Word to Be Added to the Scrabble Dictionary in 9 Years

Fans voted for this first new word update in nearly a decade.

The people have spoken: Scrabble fans have voted to add “geocache” to the players dictionary — the first new addition in nine years.

Hasbro revealed the word, “a verb meaning to seek items by means of a GPS device as part of a game,” on ABC’s Good Morning America today. “Geocache” beat out other finalists “zen” , “ew”, and “booyah” as part of a call for nominations on the Hasbro Game Night Facebook page.

“We’ve been watching geocache for some time,” Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster, said in a statement.

According to a 2010 New York Times article, this high-tech treasure hunt has been popular “only since May 2000, when President Bill Clinton announced that intentional degrading of signals received by civilians end, making their GPS devices more accurate.” It has become a family pastime, a budget-friendly hobby among parents and their children because they only need their smartphones to play. They find coordinates on websites like geocaching.com and head out to suburban malls and amusement parks together to find a “cache” or trinket hidden somewhere.

In fact, some might say it will be easier to find “caches” than to find a place to put down “geocache” on the Scrabble board because it’s an eight-letter word. On the Hasbro Game Night Facebook page, players are complaining in the comments section, arguing “Most bingos are 7-letter words that are connected to other words with an S or by a two-letter joiner (such as EW)” and “When will we ever need to use that one- always try to use ZEN and EW- many more opportunities for that to happen.”

TIME Humor

WATCH: Babies Pay Tribute To Their Leader, Prince George

"Don't Cry for Me, New Zealand"

Babies of New Zealand paid homage to their overlord when Prince George visited a playgroup during his first official public engagement Wednesday.

The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Tour Australia And New Zealand - Day 3
Prince George of Cambridge during his first official engagement at Government House on April 9, 2014 in Wellington, New Zealand. Getty Images

The King of Babes shook hands with the commonfolk, and assured them that he would do everything in his power to maintain good relations between the babies of New Zealand and the babies of the U.K.

The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Tour Australia And New Zealand - Day 3
The Prince greeted well-wishers Getty Images

In his speech, he said it was his duty to “look out for the little people” and promised “a bottle in every crib.”

Prince George
The Prince raised a hand first official visit in New Zealand Marty Melville—AFP/Getty Images

Some angry protesters were upset at the Prince’s remarks, but they were quickly escorted away.

The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Tour Australia And New Zealand - Day 3
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George attend an event at Government House in Wellington, New Zealand, on the 9th April 2014. Pool—Getty Images

Others presented the visiting dignitary with precious gifts to maintain good relations between babies of the two nations.

Prince George
Eight month old Prince George at his first official engagement at Government House, Wellington,New Zealand. Alan Wolf—NZ Govt/Getty Images

The Prince plans to continue his official tour of Australia and New Zealand with his parents and nanny in the coming weeks.

Watch here:

 

TIME Higher Education

Here’s How Many Students Could Save $50,000 on College—But Aren’t

The cost of not getting a college degree is rising, new study finds
The cost of not getting a college degree is rising, new study finds Getty Images

More colleges are allowing students to finish up their four-year degrees in just three years. But only a tiny percentage of students are taking advantage.

In 2012, Wesleyan University, an elite private college in Connecticut, became the highest-profile institution to actively promote an accelerated degree program, in which students could finish up college and get out into the “real world” after as little as three years of higher education. At the time, Wesleyan president Michael S. Roth wrote a guest op-ed for the Washington Post explaining that years prior, he had graduated from Wesleyan in three years, and he felt the benefits of such an option were enormous—among other things, he saved his family around $6,000, which was the cost of a year’s tuition when he was a student in the 1970s.

Because of a pricing model he described as “unsustainable,” Roth wrote that Wesleyan would immediately spread the word that the school’s current students could likewise finish up in three years, if they wanted:

The three-year option isn’t for everyone, but for those students who are prepared to develop their majors a little sooner, shorten their vacations by participating in summer sessions, and take advantage of the wealth of opportunities on campus, this more economical BA might be of genuine interest. In our case, allowing for some summer expenses, families would still save about 20 percent from the total bill for an undergraduate degree. At many private schools that would be around $50,000!

(MORE: After PBR: Will the Next Great Hipster Beer Please Stand Up?)

Over the weekend, the Boston Globe published a story about three-year degree options at Wesleyan and other schools. Roth is still a big fan of the idea, agreeing with the words of a previous Wesleyan president, who told students, “If you look back at your years at Wesleyan and say those were the best four years of your life, we failed you.”

Roth told the Globe that students who are ready to move on after three years of college should do so. “You shouldn’t stay here because this is your time to screw around and have a great time and then it’s going to be bad,” he said. “These should be the years that launch you into the world in a better way.”

The idea makes sense to many students who are seeking the most bang for their buck, and who are terrified with taking on crippling levels of college loans. So it’s understandable that the concept of a three-year degree is increasingly mentioned as a money-saving tactic for college students and their families. And yet very few students are actually graduating three years after starting college.

The Globe pointed to a Wesleyan dean’s estimate, forecasting that only a half-dozen or so of its students will earn their degrees via the three-year route next spring. Why so few? And why aren’t more students around the country jumping on what appears to be a quick, straightforward strategy for trimming college costs?

First off, it’s not necessarily easy to compile enough credits to graduate in three years. For majors such as nursing and engineering, which typically require extensive labs or clinical hours, earning a degree in three years is virtually impossible and often isn’t even allowed. Degrees in seemingly less intensive majors sometimes can’t be earned in three years either. “In majors like the performing arts, those skills can’t be rushed into a three-year format,” said a dean at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, explaining why it wasn’t possible for students in that major to finish in three years, per a Bankrate.com post on the pros and cons of accelerated programs.

(MORE: Student Loans Are Ruining Your Life. Now They’re Ruining the Economy Too)

Generally speaking, students in other majors must use AP credits earned in high school, and/or take summer sessions, and/or sign up for classes above and beyond the usual semester’s workload to try to finish up in three years. Not all students are up for the challenge. Heck, nationwide, less than half of students are able to earn enough credits to graduate in four years, let alone three.

What’s more, the majority of American colleges simply do not offer students the opportunity to graduate in three years. According to data cited in the Globe story, since 2009 only 19 private, nonprofit colleges have introduced three-year degree programs. More colleges are expected to get on board with the concept in the future, but the institutional embrace of the three-year degree will proceed slowly, and may not ever happen on a widespread level for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it obviously trims tuition and fees collected by colleges.

Colleges say that students should be extremely cautious in their pursuit of an accelerated degree. By speeding along through college, students increase the chances that they could pick the wrong major because they’re so hell-bent on graduating. They could also be shortchanged, the argument goes, on developing all-important life skills students are supposed to hone in college, such as critical thinking, teamwork, and problem solving.

Certainly, another factor holding back the three-year degree from becoming a larger trend is some level of disinterest among students. Not all that many students are eager to kill themselves by overloading on courses each semester. They may rather prefer to squeeze every moment of fun they can out of college—to, in fact, “screw around and have a great time” with their friends, as Wesleyan’s Roth put it. Making oneself miserable by rushing through college makes particularly little sense when you’ll graduate into a fairly lackluster jobs market.

(MORE: Student Loans Are Becoming a Drag on the U.S. Economy)

Perhaps most telling, by some account students’ parents, rather than students themselves, seem more interested in the idea of saving money via a three-year degree. “I’ve had parents ask me about the three-year degree with the sort of energy that sometimes the students don’t possess themselves,” Mary Coleman, a dean at Lesley University, in Cambridge, Mass., said to the Globe.

TIME viral

Twitter Employee Live Tweets Her Baby’s Birth Because … Twitter

Everyone is doing it...

On April 5, Twitter employee Claire Diaz-Ortiz — known to her 333,000 followers as @Claire — made the following announcement:

Thus began a string of 27 tweets — not including retweeted commentary by the likes of Christy Turlington and America Ferrera — of @Claire’s 12 hour journey from having her water break to giving birth.

Complete with its own #inlabor hashtag, the string of Twitter updates discussed the speed of her contractions:

The difficulties she and her husband faced on the ride to the hospital:

How awkward it was that people kept asking her what she was going to name the child:

How similar her doctor looked to Bethenny Frankel:

And what she would do with the placenta:

The end result was a new baby girl:

Ten minutes after she bid Twitter a momentary adieu, Diaz-Ortiz provided her followers with a necessary picture (and responded to her followers’ questions):

This is not an isolated live-tweeting labor incident. Mothers-to-be and doctors have taken to social networks to share the birthing process for different reasons. To some, sharing intimate details about contractions and dilation seems as natural as sharing pictures of Sunday brunch.

It was natural for Bravo’s Pregnant in Heels reality star Rosie Pope to live tweet her birth to her fan-base in 2012, after all, they had just watched a broadcast of her pregnancy.

Ruth Iorio live-tweeted and Instagrammed her labor to make a political point about homebirths.”In the US. The natural homebirthers are divided into the crunchy-granola-munchers and then there are the epidural lot who don’t question going to hospital. I don’t fit either of those stereotypes. I’m somewhere in the middle,” she told The Telegraph:

Even a hospital in Houston live-tweeted a C-section for educational (and let’s face it, PR) purposes last August:

With babies being named Hashtag, social media has fully integrated into the human lifecycle.

TIME Family

Honey Maid Responded to Hateful Anti-Gay Comments With This Inspiring Ad

Online commenters were not happy that Honey Maid included same sex couples in a new ad, and Honey Maid was NOT having it

On March 10, Honey Maid premiered an inclusive ad campaign called “This Is Wholesome” which celebrated all types of families — from mixed raced to tattooed to same sex parents.

But just as Cheerio’s became the subject of vitriol for its commercial starring an interracial family, Honey Maid was quickly inundated with hateful online comments from anti-gay activist. Rather than respond with a dry “We stand by our ad” statement, Honey Maid took the vitriol as an opportunity to create a new, powerful message about the power of love and family. They asked artists to print out every negative comment and turn it into something beautiful:

For every negative message Honey Maid received, ten positive notes came in. While haters will always spew hate, this goes to show that American consumers no longer see inclusion as taboo.

TIME Internet

So Far, Online Gambling Revenues Have Been Pathetic

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Peter Dazeley—Getty Images

State budget makers and gaming interests have drastically, laughably overestimated the amount of money that would be generated with the advent of legalized online gambling, especially in New Jersey.

In March 2013, New Jersey officials forecast that online gambling would yield somewhere in the neighborhood of $180 million in tax revenues for the state during the first fiscal year Internet gaming was legal. But the estimates have been falling ever since—to $160 million when Christ Christie signed the state budget last summer, and down to just $34 million earlier this year, after a few months of legalized online gambling had passed. More recently, the state treasurer said that no more estimates on online gambling revenues would be made public, which seems wise considering how previous predictions have fared.

From the end of November, when legalized online gambling in New Jersey, through February 2014, a mere $4.2 million in tax revenues has been collected by the state, leading one legislative budget officer to now project an estimate of $12 million in revenues for the year, the Associated Press reported. The revised estimate for next year’s revenues was listed at $48 million. At that pace, it would take four or five years for the state to take in revenues equal to the amount it was supposed to collect in tax revenues during the first year of legal online gambling.

It’s not just state officials who seem mystified by the lackluster returns. Caesars Entertainment recently informed the New Jersey Star-Ledger that its online gaming operation was experiencing decent success in a few parts of the state—Jersey City, Toms River, Cherry Hill—but that it couldn’t explain why interest was strong in some areas and almost nonexistent in others.

New Jersey isn’t the only state that seems to have drastically overestimated online gambling’s potential as a budgetary savior. When Delaware’s gambling sites launched, there were often only a couple dozen players online at any moment, and almost immediately it became apparent that revenues wouldn’t come anywhere near to the first-year estimates. Toward the end of March, Morgan Stanley issued a note regarding longer term prospects for online gambling in the U.S. “We are lowering our estimates to better reflect the insights we have gained following the first few months of operations in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware,” the note stated, lowering the anticipated gross online gambling spending for 2017 from $5 billion to $3.5 billion, and for 2020 from $9.3 billion to $8 billion.

Toward the end of 2011, mind you, Morgan Stanley was estimating an online gambling market of $14 billion annually, though that was based on broader legalization.

Casino companies give plenty of reasons why online gambling hasn’t taken off in New Jersey and other states, including the continued existence of unregulated (illegal) gambling site competitors, the fact that some banks aren’t allowing their credit cards to be used for placing bets online, and basic lack of awareness among consumers. Surely, some if not all of the factors holding online gambling back can be addressed in time.

That’s assuming legalized online gambling will be around for a while. Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., who obviously has no problem with people gambling in person because he runs casinos, has been waging a war against online gambling for months, at one point penning an op-ed calling Internet gaming “a societal train wreck waiting to happen.” With the backing of Adelson, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) recently sponsored a bill that would effectively outlaw online gambling throughout the country.

A group supported by Adelson, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, has released a series of online ads warning about the risks posed to children and their families in a world where gambling is available on screens 24/7, and it’s not always possible to tell who is using an online account. As the National Journal pointed out, one of the ads shows how a kid with a smartphone can be playing Angry Birds one minute, then be addicted to blackjack the next:

“I was playing Angry Birds and then, you know, I just found it,” the teen narrates, as images of online blackjack and poker tables flash on screen. “It’s a lot cooler knowing that I’m playing a real game, not just, like, Candy Crush or Fruit Ninja.”

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