Dram ewe, auto carrot

22 Apr

Editor’s note: For this week’s blog post, please enjoy a guest post, written by my friend Benjamin Singer.

Computers are sew smart.

Sorry — that was supposed to say “so” smart. Ergh. Stupid autocorrect.

Sometimes my phone fixes typos perfectly. Or takes a complex voice dictation and flawlessly relays it, with proper nouns and all. For example, I told Siri to have Lia tell her dad that I enjoyed the Passover seder with the MIDI files. Basically perfect.

Other times, I’ll be typing too quickly, and the phone amazingly corrects “dint” to “don’t” and “ehy” to “why,” “cant” to “can’t,” “thst” to “that,” “ehere” to “where,” and even “Lia lhrer” to “Lia Lehrer.”

But for some reason, sometimes it can’t type what I tell it explicitly.

When a friend of mine gets engaged, receives a job offer, or wins an election, I like to tell them “mazel tov,” congratulations. (Or “mazal tov” if I’m feeling extra Hebraic.) But a few years ago, I facilitated a discussion with a volunteer corps called TOV. I had an Android phone. At some point they got added to my contacts, and a year later, my new iPhone started autocorrecting all of my “mazal tovs” to “mazal TOVs,” making me appear either incredibly enthusiastic, 70 years old, or both.

But that shrinks in comparison to my oddest, most common, and most embarrassing autocorrect.

If there’s one word I use more than “mazal tov,” it’s “justice.” And every time I write “justice,” it autocorrects to “jolly rancher.”

So “pursue justice” turns into “pursue jolly rancher.”

“The importance of social justice” turns into “the importance of social jolly rancher.”

“Systems of justice” turns into “systems of jolly rancher.”

I once wrote this to a rabbi — check out the picture.


And, in a bizarre twist, the only way I can actually type “justice” (and keep it that way) is by mistyping it as “justic” and then accepting the correction to “justice.” That’s right — if I want to type the word correctly, I have to type it incorrectly.

You don’t even want to know what Siri thought I meant when I wanted to tell my roommate “happy holiday” in Hebrew: “Chag sameach.” Use your imagination.

And if you figure it out, mazal TOV!


A fanny pack of one’s own

15 Apr
My new travel companion.

My new travel companion.

A keen follower of this blog might observe that this not my first post or even my second post about fanny packs. Is it possible that I might be the only person in history to devote more than 1,500 words over several years to these lovable waist purses that the haters hate hate hate?

In June 2012, in “Bring back the pack,” I wrote about my deep desire to make fanny packs “a thing” again. A few months later, in August, I wrote about how my cousin Jeanne read my fanny pack blog and bought me an adorable shrinkable runners’ fanny pack that holds keys and a phone. I even borrowed my mom’s fanny pack on a trip to Disney World.

But this past weekend, I decided it was time for me to own my own full-sized fanny pack — not just for runners, but one that I can really wear all day, all night. I’ll wear it on my walks around Chicago neighborhoods, when traveling, and any time my shoulders have just given up on supporting the mini-Walgreens I carry around with me.

I am 28 years old. I have a full-time job that I love. I’m getting married to my dream guy in October. I have many wonderful friends. I am at a point in my life where I think I can afford to let my inner fanny-pack-dorkiness shine. Hey, world! If you don’t like my fanny pack, well, maybe you’ve got some problems of your own that you’re dealing with on the inside and don’t you dare blame it on my amazing shoulderless carryall. This is MY life.

But somehow I think the revival of the pack still hasn’t quite gained momentum, and over the weekend I visited every single store on State Street in Chicago, disappointed with the blatant lack of packs.

Dejected on the bus ride home, I turned to the anti-State Street: Online shopping. I found the perfect fanny pack for a mere $7 that came in a variety of colors (though I decided to just get black — let’s not get too crazy all at once).

I would like to share with you one of the online reviews of my new fanny pack that arrived this week.

This fanny pack completes me.
By Carlos

So I was hesitant on purchasing this fanny pack. But let me tell you. This fanny pack completes me. As a 34-year-old adult male, I have no idea why I have never used one before. The moment I heard it “click,” I knew I was a fanny packer for life.

Everything I need to carry with me is one zipper away from me. My keys, my gum, money, nail clippers, my bottle of Tabasco sauce. It’s all right there bellow my waist.

I have to tell you that every time I hear that click of completion, I feel like Batman suiting up to fight crime, the only difference is I’m not fighting a crime, I’m living my life (thanks to this fanny pack).

Sometimes people will glance at it and I get the impression that they just don’t understand the life of a fanny packer. I can only think that this is the same way batman feels when people look at him.

If I could wear two of them, I would, I just don’t have that much stuff to carry.

Get one today!

Europe, I’m coming for you in a few weeks. The people of London, Amsterdam, and Belgium are going to look at me and say, “WOW! Who is that amazingly beautiful and stylish girl with gym shoes and a fanny pack? She walks like she owns this place. There’s no way she can be a tourist. She must be a model.” See you soon, European fashionistas.

Politicians on cell phones

8 Apr

Politicians sure must spend a lot of time on the phone.




It seems like I hear it on the news all the time. Obama didn’t call Netanyahu to congratulate him on being re-elected as Israeli prime minister. Romney called Obama to concede the election. World leaders are constantly calling each other.

I would just like to know: How do they do it?

The first picture in this post has a subheading that says, “Bibi still waiting by the phone.” Am I right picture him looking something like this?


Here’s how these phone calls probably happen.

Obviously they text each other first.

Obama (via text): hey bibi, u free? wanted 2 say congratz on the win.”

Netanyahu (via text): oh yeah lol, thx, [happy emoticon alien]. im driving right now, can u call in 5 min?”

Obama: (via text): kkthxbye

When the time comes to make the call, Obama whips out his iPhone and says, “Siri, call Bibi Netanyahu. … No, don’t search for Bambi on the internet search engine Yahoo!. Call Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Netanyahu answers the phone. “Pizza Hut, how may I help you? … Nah, just kidding, what’s up, Barack?”

“Barack???” Obama says. “You must have the wrong number, because I’m Ruth Bader Ginsburg!”

They go on to chat for a few minutes, but then Netanyahu says, “Sorry, I’m in a bad cell area, I might lose you!”

They play phone tag for a few more minutes (clearly they haven’t read my Caller Calls Back blog) and then they’re back. They chat for a while.

And then: “You hang up first,” “No YOU hang up first.”

In my mind, I am imagining it to be extremely adorable. But if I want to find out the truth, should I just try to call Barack on his cell directly? Nah, I should probably text him first.

A reminder from myself

1 Apr

[Text message notification.]

Wow, I got a text message! Who could it be from? Is it my friend texting to make a plan to work out together? Is it Adam, texting to say hello? Is it my mom, just practicing her newfound texting skills?

Nope. It’s Lia from the Past: “Bring Kleenex to work tomorrow.” Earlier in the day, I ran out of tissues, and in this ever-chilly weather, I needed to remember to bring more. So, a few hours earlier, I sent a text message to Lia from the Future and scheduled it for 10 p.m., a time when I knew I’d be home but not yet asleep.

Bril-lia-nce, right?

I love, love, love the “schedule message” feature of my text message app. I can send a text to myself or anyone else and specify the time for it to be sent.

“Lia, can you remind me tomorrow to call my cousin for her birthday?” a coworker might ask. “Sure, what time would you like the reminder?” And there and then, I’ll schedule a text so we can both forget about it and move on with our lives. Tomorrow, at the appropriate time, my coworker will get her reminder, and for me, the memory of this conversation will be miles away.

I know that I could create a reminder on my calendar app, or a general phone reminder, or a task with a deadline, or probably any number of reminder tools. But for me, this works. I never forget to bring lip balm or gym shoes or my checkbook or whatever it is that I need; and I don’t have to deal with thousands of Post-It Notes that inevitably lose their stickiness somewhere in the parking lot on the way to my car.

iPhone users: Do you have this capability on your phones? So far, I have yet to find any iPhone users who are able to schedule a text (yet another reason why my Samsung Galaxy deserves some R-E-S-P-E-C-T). If not, well, let me know if you need me to remind you of anything.

Here’s how it works, at least on my Galaxy:

  1. Choose someone to text, be it Future You or Future Your Friend, and go to your text message conversation with that person
  2. Click on the setting button (three dots)
  3. Press “schedule message” and choose your date and time (it must be in the future, because, as they say, “the past is in the past!”)
  4. Sit back, relax, and wait for this text message time capsule to come alive

Can someone remind me tomorrow to post this blog entry on Facebook around noon?

The concert that fell short of my expectations

25 Mar
The view from my last-row standing position at "The Sing-Off: Live in Concert"

The view from my last-row standing position at “The Sing-Off: Live in Concert”

When I purchased tickets for an a cappella concert this past Sunday night at the House of Blues in Chicago, I didn’t know that my kind of people weren’t welcome.

My kind — meaning people shorter than six feet.

At amusement parks, at least the signs warn you in advance: “Do not ride this roller coaster unless you are 58 inches tall.”

But imagine my disappointment when I arrived at the concert as a full-paying customer (okay, I got discounted tickets on Goldstar) and I could not see the show.

I knew this was a “standing” concert — and as a proud owner of a standing desk, I was excited to burn extra calories while listening to the talented vocal-only sounds of singers from NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” one of my favorite TV shows. I prepared for the standing marathon by wearing semi-comfortable shoes and switching to a messenger bag purse that wouldn’t hurt my shoulders.

But to not be able to see the performers? I wanted my money back. You’re discriminating against somewhat short people like me! While my personality may seem tall, I only occupy five feet and two inches of the world’s vertical space — and my frustration felt tall as a giant.

My fiance, the six-foot-three-inch (“six-foot-five if you count the hair”) Adam, had no problem seeing, of course. We’re both too old for him to lift me up onto his shoulders, but I was ready to ask him to describe the stage in detail. “What are they doing now?” “They’re doing boy-band-style dance moves that go along with the song ‘Uptown Funk.'” But luckily, we did find a spot where I was able to see the stage — in the theater’s last row, just behind a restricted area, and perfectly located near the food counter selling grilled cheese and fries (which we enjoyed).

the-muppets-statler-and-waldorfFor our next concert, I’d consider wearing high heels to give me some extra height, but then of course I’d be complaining about my aching feet during the two-hour show. We could have paid extra to get those box seats on the side — you know, the seats where those old critics on the Muppets sit — but then we’d be complaining of strained necks. In other words, no matter how you look at it, a cappella music is bad for my health.

Sorry, “Sing-Off” musicians. If NBC continues this show — PLEASE, NBC, for the love of a cappella, continue the show! — I look forward to watching it from the comfort my my living room. I’ll even make my own grilled cheese.

What’s new?

18 Mar

“Hey, how are you? What’s new?”

“Oh, not much, what’s new with you?”

“Nothing new here.”

“Yeah, same old, same old.”

“Things are good.”

“Well, glad nothing’s new, it was great talking to you!”

That conversation was a disaster. And how many times do all of us have this same dialogue over and over again? It’s an empty pleasantry and a waste of everyone’s time.

Here’s what I’m tempted to say when asked “what’s new”: none of which actually make for good conversations.

“Well, I took my dresses to the dry cleaner yesterday, so it’s always nice to wear a clean outfit.”

“I usually get my turkey sandwich with mayo, but today I asked for pesto mayo, and it was a good addition.”

“Not much is new, but recently I’ve been craving jelly beans.”

Not the best, right?

The nosy, inquisitive journalist in me would like to offer a few suggestions for those frequent moments when you want to make conversation but just don’t know what to ask.

  • “What projects are keeping you busy this week at work?”
  • “Tell me about your most memorable meal this month.”
  • “First thing that pops into your mind — what’s the best book you’ve read this year?”
  • “How was your weekend? How did you spend your Sunday afternoon?”
  • “What’s the funniest thing that happened to you today?”

Let us all join together and attempt to eliminate the pointless, useless question of “what’s new” — and instead, we can find some questions that are interesting and actually much easier to answer.

Except … in one instance.

“You’ve got some snu on your shirt.”

“What’s snu?”

“Not much, friend, what’s snu with you?”

Seriously, please help me understand emoji

11 Mar

This is going to make me sound really, really old. But it’s eating me up inside.

I don’t understand emojis (or is it emoji?).

Was I out sick the day the world declared that these tiny little images of faces or body parts or sports equipment are “in”? Are we really in a place where even “words” like “lol,” “jk,” and “omg” are just too long that we require a picture?

Below is a conversation that I had with my friend Benjamin (for some reason, he often texts at weird hours of the night, so I told him he’s the reason why I have to turn off the sounds overnight). Can anybody help me understand what he was saying?


(Benjamin never actually responded with the meaning of his cryptic emoji. Maybe the world will never know what he meant.)

I have a lot of questions about these things. Feel free to chime in and help this old lady out!

Top Ten Questions Lia Has About Emoji

  1. Are emoji supposed to be read in sentence form?
  2. Where does punctuation come into play?
  3. Are some emoji considered offensive and rude? Do these come under a separate PG-13 category?
  4. Are these even new? I seem to recall a million types of smiley faces back in my AIM days (and really, those were the days).
  5. Some of these images are hard for my old eyes to see. Do I have to enlarge my text message font and/or screen size in order to see and understand these tiny pictures?
  6. Do iPhone emoji speak to Android emoji, or does everyone get emoticon of confused face?
  7. Is there an “alt tag” on emoji — you know how on a computer, you can hover your mouse over an icon and a little bubble pops up explaining what the icon does?
  8. Are these images standardized? I seem to recall seeing someone dress in an emoji costume recently (I’m looking at you, Stef G.). Is that supposed to be something that is immediately recognizable and understood by the general population?

    Stef and her friends dressed as emoji. WHY? Is this something I'm supposed to understand? (Love you, Stef)

    Stef and her friends dressed as emoji. WHY? Is this something I’m supposed to understand? (Love you, Stef)

  9. I’ve already begun seeing these emoji creep into Facebook posts. Will they eventually poke their way into e-mails, business memos, resumes, novels, and bibles?
  10. Final question: What age is too old to be using these, and, no hard feelings, have I hit that age?

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