Please sign clearly

29 Oct

Last week, while buying a tomato mozzarella sandwich on focaccia bread at a local mom-and-pop grocery store, I paid with a credit card and was asked to sign for my purchase. I saw this sign:

2014-10-21 13.05.08

Yes, that says “Please Sign Clearly” on one of those credit card machines with the electronic pen that should have been replaced years ago, the end of the pen already rounded and almost flat.

It’s the kind of signing pad that’s at an angle where no human arm can properly hold a pen or write. If you can get a squiggle that remotely looks like one of the letters in your name, it’s an accomplishment.

Please sign clearly? Why? For what? And how?

Before we start printing these “please sign clearly” signs for all of the world’s outdated credit card machines, let’s consider investing in new pens first.

And on top of the big, unpointy, unwieldy pens, there’s never enough room on these machines to write anything. Plus, it’s supposed to be your signature, the one that matches the credit card. And the credit also doesn’t provide enough space. So you end up with having to “clearly” write a signature that matches a signature that’s probably not clearly written.

Is that clear?

Breaking news: Adam and Lia are engaged!

22 Oct

Dear friends and family,

Adam and I are ecstatic to report that we are getting married. The past three years we’ve spent together have been amazing and we are so looking forward to our future together.

Many of you have asked for our proposal story, so I’ll use this week’s blog as an opportunity to share it with all of you.

THE SETTING

We arrived at our favorite restaurant, Pasta Palazzo, where Adam had convinced the restaurant to close a half hour early for our “private event.” Adam and I share a love for the gnocchi and chocolate mousse cake at this restaurant, so we were excited to see this sign on the chalkboard outside:

mousse

We sat down and then got a special delivery of flowers. The waiters at the restaurant were just as excited about this whole thing as we were, and they enjoyed taking pictures of us and sharing in our special moment.

IMG_3332

 

THE BOOK

We ordered our food, and then Adam pulled out a wrapped box. I opened the box and found a photo book similar to the ones that Adam and I make to document our travels and our yearly adventures.

The first half of the photo book showed Adam’s favorite pictures of the two of us from the last three years — I loved reminiscing about our fun memories together through these photos.

Adam had written some notes about our relationship and how much he cares for me, and how he wants to spend the future with me. The next page was then a photo of Adam, on one knee, holding a ring and a sign that says “Will you marry me?” Then Adam came over to me and got down on one knee and presented me with the real live ring. I said yes and was so excited.

???????????????????????????????

And then Adam told me to finish reading the book.

The rest of the book contained photos of our family and close friends holding signs with phrases like “Best wishes! You’re getting hitched!” and “Take him as your husband” and “Welcome to the family.” My friends and family members even made sure to include references to the Beatles, the Wizard of Oz, and Seinfeld. Do they know me or do they know me?

And apparently these friends have been keeping this book a secret for a long time. In an e-mail chain where Adam coordinated one of the photos with my high school best friends, one of my friends wrote:

“PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT LET LIA FIND OUT. She is a super sneaky little lady, so we gotta be very skilled at keeping this from her. Hide your emails, texts, computers, phones whenever she is around!”

To all of my journalism teachers from throughout the years who taught me to be investigative and inquisitive — mischief managed. :)

Here’s us holding the book:

DSC01345

Oh, what’s that? You want to actually READ the book Adam created? Alright, I guess I can share the link:

The amazing, wonderful, beautifully perfect photo book proposal

 

THE VISITORS

When I finished reading the book, Adam insisted that I call my parents from the restaurant. “Can’t I call them from the apartment?” I asked. “No, you need to call them now, I really want to hear their reaction.”

So I called my parents on the home phone, and my mom answered. She was so excited to hear the news and wanted to hear all about it. She asked that I call her later in the night to tell her more details. She asked me to hand the phone to Adam so she could congratulate him.

Little did I know that she was around the block the whole time — and sneakily, my dad set up the home phone to forward to his cell phone.

Ten minutes later, into the restaurant walked my parents, my brother and sister-in-law, and Adam’s brother and sister-in-law. We had a great time celebrating together and sharing our favorite chocolate mousse cake with them.

IMG_3342

IMG_3350

Thank you to Adam for an extremely thoughtful and meaningful proposal; thank you to my friends and family for your participation; and thank you to everyone for all of your love and support.

Picnics per capita

15 Oct

yogi bearWhile doing research for my master’s project — I’ll be writing about best practices in small social groups in synagogues and other organizations — I began reading Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone.” In this book, I came across this amazing fact:

“Informal outings, like picnics, also seem on the path to extinction. The number of picnics per capita was slashed by nearly 60 percent between 1975 and 1999.” (pg. 100)

Picnics per capita? This is amazing: It means that there are human beings in this world — researchers with fancy degrees, no less — who measure and monitor picnics as an academic study.

I can just picture it. Members of the research team — which I presume is named Team Yogi Bear — spend summer afternoons going from parks to beaches to lakefronts to campgrounds, looking for red checkered blankets and brown wicker baskets. Upon finding a case study, the team zeroes in, and maybe even talks to the picnickers. “Excuse me, are you having a picnic today?” they’d ask. “How many picnics have you had this month? This year? How did it compare to the picnicking of your childhood? Also, can I have a bite of that pasta salad?”

The researchers would inevitably get hungry themselves, and whip out their own blankets and baskets and hold their own picnics. But then, would they be skewing the data? When passersby see the researchers having a picnic, does it remind them of the picnics of their childhood, and inspire them to have their own picnic the next sunny Sunday? How can we possibly trust this data?

And what, pray tell, is the cause of this demise of these meals-on-a-blanket? Is it the weather? Too many bugs? It’s probably that picnics are not close enough to TV screens and WiFi signals.

Picnic enthusiasts of the world, let’s reverse the trend. Let’s give these researchers something to notice — a sharp rise in picnicking, beginning summer 2015. I’ll start making sandwiches.

Wave to Ava!

8 Oct
I won't tell you which one, but it's possible that my friend Ava is reading this very blog right now from one of these very windows. Sounds like the plot of a great Hitchcock movie, right?

I won’t tell you which one, but it’s possible that my friend Ava is reading this very blog right now from one of these very windows. Sounds like the plot of a great Hitchcock movie, right?

If phone calls, Gchat, Facebook chat, e-mail, and texting all become obsolete on the same day — and I do fear that day — I’ll at least be able to communicate with one of my friends via Morse code.

My friend Ava and I always knew that we lived two buildings apart — and I just calculated it on Google Maps, 364.2 feet apart — but when she recently moved from a two-bedroom to a studio, she discovered that she could actually see my apartment.

So this past Sunday night, we called each other while flicking our lights on and off. To the rest of our buildingmates, it must have looked like a rave was going on; but to us, we were just determining who lived where.

“I can see you waving!” she said.

“I see your lamp!” I said back.

Now, the question is: How can we have fun with this new knowledge?

  • Create silhouetted plays for each other
  • Learn Morse code and send messages back and forth
  • Open the windows and somehow connect a string tied to tin cans and communicate the old-fashioned way
  • Put colored Cellophane in front of our lamps to mean different messages
  • LASER TAG!
  • What else?

I almost feel like Jimmy Stewart with 35mm camera and a telephoto lens.

I’ll say goodbye to you, dear readers, and I’ll wave goodbye to my across-the-street neighbor, Ava!

Guest post from Adam Goldfarb: “Needle phobia”

1 Oct

Editor’s note: For this week’s blog post, please enjoy a guest post, written by my boyfriend, Adam Goldfarb. 

As I found myself in the waiting room at Lurie Children’s Hospital to take a routine blood test (why my doctor sent me to a children’s hospital, I will never understand, but I will always appreciate) only two thoughts were crossing my mind: First, why is this waiting room so much cooler than the waiting rooms at adult hospitals, and second, how is it possible that I am decades older than the next oldest patient in the room, yet, likely equally as terrified of the needles in the room next door? This is how I spent my time yesterday between 8:48 a.m. and 9:12 a.m.

Imagine a world (or more literally, a room) of colorful walls, Dora the Explorer on repeat, an Xbox game console, and a miniature of the bronze lions outside of the Art Institute of Chicago. Does that not sound like a place that could hold your attention for hours?

This waiting room is light-years ahead of the entertainment options of the normal, boring waiting room, where the primary act is the man passed out in the corner who looks like he has been there for days, followed by the secondary act of counting down the minutes until they refill the empty Culligan machine. Seriously, people, why is the Culligan machine so frequently empty in waiting rooms? Is it because people are so nervous waiting for their name to be called that they develop dry mouth and require constant hydration? Or perhaps is it a ploy to force those fasting before their blood is drawn to not be tempted by the oh-so-delicious Culligan water? One day I will discover the answer to this mystery, but I have digressed, so back to the story.

Likely due to my fear of needles, during my wait in the waiting room I began to develop the aforementioned dry mouth. As I hunted for the nearest water cooler, I heard my name called.

pain ease sprayA steady sweat beaded down my forehead and I told the nurse that I, too, am scared of needles. She laughed and said, “Don’t you think we know better than any hospital how to harmlessly take blood?” From my nervous look she could tell that I did not consider this a laughing matter, and she followed up with: “Would you like me to numb the area where I will take blood?”

Hallelujah, the nervousness lifted! Was this truly an option? After 30 years of complaining about needles why has this never been offered to me and those that suffer from needle phobia?

I know this blog has avid readers in the medical profession, so I beg of you, our doctor friends, please start offering this service to all of us who suffer from needle phobia. In the meantime, I will be bringing a bottle of this magical numbing spray with me to all future doctor visits.

At least I’m not a doughnut man

24 Sep

There are days when I’m exhausted, tired, and overwhelmed with projects at work and in my personal life.

But then I drive by this guy and my whole life is put into perspective.

2014-09-23 11.51.33

I think there’s something here we can all learn. At our worst times, in our most stressful moments, on the days when we want to give up, and when we just want to crawl into a hole: At least we’re not standing next to a gas station dressed as a doughnut holding a sign on a sunny day. And if you are, well, have fun with that!

A moving bed

17 Sep
car bed

My brother’s car bed

I have this really cool talent that I’ve been thinking about taking on the road: Give me two minutes in a moving vehicle that I’m not driving and I’m fast asleep.

When I was a kid, my mom would drive me around the block in preparation for a naptime of deep sleep. And the skill has stuck with me. If I’m not driving the car, bus, train, or plane, it takes a lot of effort on my part to stay awake.

It made me think of an idea. Waterbeds exist to help people who want to feel like they are floating; so there must be a way to make beds that give a sensation of a moving vehicle.

It’s like how my brother had a “car bed” when he was little. It looked like a car and it was very “in” for his age. What if that car actually felt like it was moving? Naptime would be a breeze!

You could add a motor to the bed, plus maybe some sound effects. Nothing says “sleep time” like car honks, right?

Let’s get moving on this idea. We’ll sleep on it.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.