Actually, "amused, saddened and disgusted" might be more like it: a couple of not-especially-recent NY Times items that I haven't managed to mention yet:
June 28: A story that made me feel better about the fact that I spend $80 to get my hair cut, and currently have one or two extra bottles of moisturizer that I don't really need. Compared to these ladies, my maintenance is lower than low: SKIN DEEP: Beauty Regimens Reach for the Gold Standard.
''We have more procedures than we did 10 years ago to help you maintain your appearance and to undo some of the damage you did to yourself by sitting in the sun,'' said Dr. Flor A. Mayoral, a dermatologist in South Miami. Dr. Mayoral said that she asks every new patient the size of her yearly beauty budget and works within the limits. She estimated that many of her patients spend $2,400 a year on facial injections and $2,000 a year on hair coloring.
Lisa Oliver, the head colorist at The Salon by Maxime, calculated that her clients spend even more on grooming.
''Depending on how much Botox and the pricier stuff you get done, when you add in hair care, nails, face and body, it's got to be between $2,000 to $3,500 a month,'' Ms. Oliver said. In Los Angeles, she added, such grooming is considered basic maintenance.
''If you are high maintenance, you could spend a lot more money,'' Ms. Oliver said. ''I can think of a couple of people where $3,500 a month might be low.''
And to completely switch gears from that last story, see this article from June 30: For Poor Families, an Added Burden of Too Many Pets.
Excess animals, dropped on dark roads that wind through oak and pine forests and cornfields here, tend to end up in the care of people with bigger hearts than bank accounts. People like Mr. Swetman and his wife, Alicia, who have a hard enough time paying their own mortgage and gasoline bills on what Mr. Swetman earns as a machinist at a bathtub factory but have ended up with a large menagerie nonetheless, mostly because of abandoned animals and unplanned births.
The Swetmans live on a back-country road near Finger. They keep two dogs in their cluttered concrete-block house, two tethered to trees and the rest in three wire pens. They somehow eke out $26 a week to buy two 50-pound sacks of dog food.
“I’d do without food myself before they do,” Ms. Swetman said. But they say with some despair that veterinary care, which can run $100 a year per animal for vaccines and $100 or more for spaying or neutering, is far beyond their reach.
Do you think these people are doing the right thing by adopting all these animals?