Electrical adapters: The key to world peace?

27 Apr

plugAs Adam and I prepare for a vacation to Italy, we’re busy packing the essentials — sunscreen, walking shoes, and, unfortunately, raincoats. But one of the weirdest things we’re trying to figure out is which technology adapters to bring.

Wouldn’t it be great to say that we’ll go tech-free on this trip — you know, when in Rome, live as the ancient Romans did? It would be nice, but we’d have no maps, no hotel confirmations, no ways to charge our camera, no ways to call my mom and tell her we’re still alive, and really, really wet hair. So, adapters it is.

The funny part is that we knew that each continent has its own plug style and need for a different adapter — but apparently Italy is not on the “Europe” adapter system, and even within Italy, we may need at least two different adapters.

I would just like to know how this came to be.

Did “electricity” come to the world at different times? Obviously electricity was discovered in a playground by the playful, kite-flying Benjamin Franklin (who still doesn’t have a musical written about him?); so was America the first place to get adapters? Woo hoo! Eureka! My fellow Americans, we now have electricity, so you can all finally charge your dead cell phones. Let’s give ourselves immediate access to electricity in every room of our house in the form of electrical sockets — but just for fun, when we’re building hotel rooms, let’s only give each room one electrical socket and we’ll put it behind the dresser, just to poke fun at tourists.

Then the other countries got jealous. Why does America have electricity and we don’t? Let’s get some of that powerful juice in our countries.

According to WorldStandards.eu, each type of plug around the world has a different name, and they go up alphabetically from A to O. (Unclear if AB+ and O- are still in the works.) Types A and B are for North America and Japan (naturally), Type C is for Europe, South America, and Asia; Type D is for India. Then you get to Type L, which is used in Italy and Chile.

Are these plugs in the order in which the countries received Ben Franklin’s magical spark? Do the countries that share a plug have an alliance? I know I’m definitely looking forward to all of the Chilean food that will be available in Italy.

It’s 2016 … are we getting close to a universal world adapter? I can think of no better way to bring together our very different countries around the world than letting everyone charge their cell phones together. May we all live to see the day when all electrical devices, no matter their country of origin or immigration status, can share an electrical wall of peace and harmony.

Thank you to my really old gym shoes

20 Apr

A few days ago, a ridiculous thought occurred to me. I could not remember the last time I bought new gym shoes.

I was looking down at my shoes, ready to show the elliptical who’s boss (hint: not me), and I realized that I’ve owned those shoes for a very, very long time. I had no memory of buying sneakers after college … did I buy them before college? Is there a chance that these well-loved shoes were more than 10 years old?

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I think the “rules” say people should purchase new gym shoes every year or every other year, which meant that it was definitely time to buy a new pair. And now, as we speak, I’m breaking in some exciting new shoes just waiting to travel the world (or at least the inside of a workout room).

But all of a sudden, I’m feeling nostalgic for my old guys.

Many of you know that I’ve become obsessed with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. One of the aspects of her book that make the haters hate hate hate hate hate is that Kondo recommends “thanking” each of your items before discarding them. Yes, it may be a little hokey to thank your oven mitts for a job well done, but it does make you feel less guilty about tossing them. “Thank you, oven mitts, for keeping my hands from getting burned as I baked cookies for my friends. But I don’t need three pairs of oven mitts. I hope you make someone else very happy.”

Thanking items before discarding them allows you to think about how items have more than their face value. Oven mitts lead to family gatherings. Dresses lead to memorable occasions. And gym shoes lead to health, fitness, and long walks with good friends.

So I’d like to use this post to thank my old gym shoes. It’s truly been quite a journey. According to my Fitbit, which I’ve worn daily since November 2013, I’ve walked nearly 3,000 miles over the past three years. And these gym shoes have literally supported me every step of the way (except for those somewhat painful mid-workday walks with coworkers when I’m wearing flats!).

These shoes have traveled with me around the globe — to Israel, England, Holland, Belgium, Canada, Mexico, all over the United States, and throughout so many Chicago neighborhoods. They may have made me look like a tourist, but at least when I’m wearing them, I look like a happy tourist and not a “my feet are killing me so please don’t make me go to one more stinkin’ museum” tourist.

According to some exhaustive Facebook research, this is the first recorded photo of me in the shoes, taken while exploring downtown Chicago with my college roommates in September 2008:


These shoes have kept me comfortable, kept me walking, kept me exploring. They’ve been with me in probably more kinds of weather than is appropriate for non-rain boots.

So now, as the shoes are at least eight years old, worn and tattered, showing signs of retirement, I look ahead to my new friends for my feet.

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And maybe I should set myself a reminder for next year, April 2017, to look into getting a new pair of … gotta say it … solemates.

Peacock on the balcony

13 Apr

My friends and I had an amazing time this past week at a resort in Mexico, though we did have one slightly unexpected problem — we kept getting awoken at night by a peacock!

Believe it or not, we were on the third floor, but somehow the peacock managed to make its way (fly? climb? crawl?) to our balcony. At first, he was beautiful and crazy and so much fun to take pictures with; but then, around 3 or 4 a.m., he became an unappreciated alarm clock.

I didn’t record a video of its sound, but I’ll describe it as a cross between a squawking chicken and an angry old lady.

So, for your viewing pleasure, the closest I’ve ever gotten to a peacock:

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From a different day, earlier in the trip, we saw a peacock on top of a golf club garage:

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And, finally, a peacock in all its glory who loved to be photographed:

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6 Apr

Hooray — it’s Windy City Minyan’s fifth anniversary! Read my thoughts on this exciting time in my article this week in Oy!Chicago.

That’s all for me, folks; good night!

The potential hidden camera at the food buffet

30 Mar

I recently switched to Adam’s health insurance, and I was excited to learn that his insurance offers employees and spouses a comprehensive preventive screening for all kinds of medical issues. I signed up to participate, and last Thursday was the big day.

In advance of the appointment, I filled out a long online form with medical history, family history, eating and exercise habits, and more. The night before the screening, I was instructed to fast after 10 p.m. (of course, I don’t often eat after 10 p.m., but because I knew I couldn’t, all I wanted to do was snack!).

The first part of my visit was a blood test. The nurse drew my blood and then offered to bring me water and a banana. Wow, that’s really nice, I thought. I continued with a few more tests, and then they said I had some time to enjoy the buffet.

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The buffet included coffee, tea, hot chocolate, yogurt, fruit, sandwiches, cereal, muffins, milk, bagels, and granola bars. I’m in heaven! What a great way to start the day!

But then I looked around the room. Is this PART of the screening? In my long health history form, they asked very specific questions about my eating habits — how many servings do I get a day/week of fruit, vegetables, dairy, protein, etc. It made me think — is there a hidden camera here? They’ll give me all of these food choices, nobody is here watching me … and then later, when I meet with the doctor, she’ll give me her comments. “I noticed, Lia, that even though you could have chosen fruit, tea, and yogurt, instead you chose a muffin, a bagel, and 2% milk,” she’d say. “Let’s talk about your eating habits.”

Turns out, this did not appear to be part of the testing, but to all my doctor friends who may be working at places like this in the future — maybe it should be!

Drivers: Sorry I didn’t wave back, I can’t see you

23 Mar
Is there even anybody driving this car??

Is there even anybody driving this car??

Come with me on a hypothetical journey (aren’t those the best kinds?). You’re walking in the parking lot of your workplace — or on the sidewalk of your neighborhood — and a car slowly drives by you. Is the driver waving at you? Maybe you hear someone shouting your name, but only cars are nearby. Who said that?

It’s a huge problem. I’m not talking about strangers in cars, though, oh boy, don’t get into a car with a stranger unless it’s a certified Uber driver. I’m talking about friends, relatives, and coworkers who wave to you from inside a car. But you can’t see them.

I’d like to use this post as 1) an apology and 2) a reminder.

The apology: I am so sorry to the people who have waved to me from a car and have gotten little more than a half-smile in return. I’m sorry! I bet you expected me to light up with joy when seeing your face, and maybe even motion to you to roll down the window so we can have a little parking lot chat. How’s your husband? What’s new at work? Did you just get a car wash or did it rain today? But I have only given you a blank stare or maybe a confused expression. Why?

The reminder: Just as a reminder to all drivers — depending on the time of day, the angle, the sun, the sunglasses, and the type of tinted windows on your car, walkers outside of your car probably can’t see who you are inside the car. It’s so unfair, I know! Inside the car, the whole world is clear, bright, and sunny. Oh, the world’s a little dusty, but no problem, I’ll just release a little spritz of windshield wiper fluid, and, oh, wow, hey! Is that my dentist? Dr. Dunn, hello!! Wow, the world sure looks great from in here. Commuting isn’t so bad. It’s like people watching and networking. It’s a good thing I’m having such a great hair day for all these people to see.

But no. No one will see your hair. No one! Unless your car is really recognizable — like, if you’re driving the Mystery Machine — or unless your window is down and your dog that looks like Scooby Doo is sticking his head out of that window, I have no idea who you are. I’m sorry!

Sometimes if I think somebody I know is waving at me, I wave back, even though I have no idea who it is. Let’s just hope it’s not a stranger or somebody with a hidden camera.

So, my apologies for not waving back at you in the past, and a future apology for continuing to not wave back at you. Unless you’re driving a convertible, and if you are, you’re obviously a time traveler from the 1950s, I CAN’T SEE YOU. But please, if you should see me crossing the street or the parking lot, well … maybe honk your name in Morse Code and I’ll figure it out?

Liberating myself from hanger straps

16 Mar

2016-03-13 15.07.29There is one glorious, liberating day in the life of every piece of clothing — the day that I, owner of the piece of clothing, decide to chop off the straps of slavery and enter into the world of freedom.

There are few more satisfying feelings than the moment that I cut off the shirt’s hanger straps. Even thinking about it now makes me breathe a sigh of relief. Ahhhh.

I know that the straps are there for a reason. When hanging delicate tops by these straps, you prevent hanger-induced bumps and snags.

But, oh, the suffering they cause! All day long, while my mind tries to focus on tackling the tasks of the day, instead I’m focused on these straps. These straps itch. Are they visible? Do I not know that they’re visible but then someone who I don’t even know very well will sneak up behind me and tuck in the straps, saying “Sorry, had to fix that. You’re welcome!”

Sometimes they are the same color and fabric of their mothering top; but other times, they are clear plastic. “This is brilliant,” the manufacturer must have said. “These straps are clear, so no one will even see them if they creep out a bit!” Instead of being invisible, however, the shiny straps sparkle in the sunlight and are as clear as can be. Hello, world! Look at my utilitarian hanger straps!

So, on a typical hanger-straps-are-driving-me-crazy kind of day, I find a sympathetic co-worker about halfway through the day. I hand her a pair of scissors. Please, just put me out of my misery. The straps fall off and I’m filled with relief as I toss them in the garbage. Thanks for ruining my day … but now we’re through!

Angels sing Hallelujah … hallelujah … hallelujah! Every window displays sunshine and a rainbow. The air fills with music. Oh happy day!

Next time if you see that my sweater has a hanger bump, now you’ll understand. I did it for my happiness, for my sanity. I did it to liberate myself from the shackles of hanger-strap-induced anxiety. Join me, friends, and rid the world of these awful creatures!


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