Mighty Life List
Jan 22 2015

Google Translate Blows My Damn Mind

Brad is an app designer, and he’s very excited about it. One of our main topics of conversation is amazing apps I should be using so I can experience the future as it unfolds. Most recently, Google Translate had my jaw unhinged.

Holy crap, this is like living in an episode of Star Trek. The app supports 90 languages, though Cherokee is still in development. Obviously, you can just type and the app will give you a written translation on your phone, but it also does a couple things that made me tear up:

• It translates signs in real time for six languages. You hold your camera up to a sign, the translation appears on your phone. It looks like you’re just reading the actual sign, which is magical. You can also take a photo of the sign to translate it in 36 more languages.

• You can speak into the device, hit a button for what language you’d like to translate to, and the app speaks for you in the native language of whomever you happen to be addressing. What?! What.

It’s been around for a while, but the voice tool is new. If you haven’t already, go play with it. It would be incredible for letting babies hear a wide range of foreign accents while they can still encode the sounds and more complex language rules. Also fun when you’re tipsy. Here it is, Free for iphone and Android.

The future! Neat.

Jan 13 2015

Maternity Wardrobe Links and Tips

If you’re planning to grow human in your belly, here are some of the things I bought that were high-quality and reasonably priced. If you’re not, here is a comic strip that made me feel better about my brain.

Maternity Clothes I Recommend

Undies that don’t suck: 3-pack boy shorts from H&M, $15

Knit Faux Wrap Dress from Banana Republic Sexy and happens to work for nursing, so we’ll see if it lasts: $87

Grey Mama Treggings, on sale for $17

Red Batwing Sleeve Sweater that’s not technically maternity but big enough to push it, $27

Maternity Stretch Tanks, on sale $5-7

Two-pack maternity tights in grey and black, $17

This 2-Pack of Maternity Leggings are pretty thick. Some pilling after being worn near constantly for 7 months, but come on, $40

Maternity Wardrobe Tips

Buy maternity clothes from the get go, do not wait until you can’t get your regular jeans up around your thighs. They’re crazy comfortable, and clothes that stretch make you feel healthy and pregnant as your body grows instead of just feeling fat and bummed. Also, my first pregnancy I thought I could just buy bigger clothes, and my sister said, “Your body is going to get weird. You’ll have to get maternity stuff in the third trimester, so just be comfortable all along.” She was right.

• Go for the full-belly panel on your pants. Those low elastic waistbands look good, but the last trimester when they start feeling really tight just as you don’t want anything touching your body. Also, your shirt rides up to reveal your naked belly, which is very vulnerable and yucky. Finally, when the baby gets big enough to have an opinion, they will vote by kicking you hard until you buy new pants that don’t smush them. Sorry, baby.

• Neutrals are the most economical. I buy dark grey when I can and black when I can’t. Everything works together and doesn’t clash with pieces that still work from my normal-body wardrobe. I bought a couple accent pieces in red, but mostly rely on colorful accessories.

Don’t worry so much about whether you’ll be able to wear it after. With my first pregnancy, I obsessed over finding nursing/maternity clothes that looked passable as regular clothes. After I gave birth I was so sick of those clothes. They were mostly worn out — all stretched out and pilly — and people kept asking when I was due, probably because I was wearing maternity clothes? Yeah. So this time I bought very little, I’m wearing it into the ground, and tossing it or passing it on when I give birth. The exception is bras and nightgowns. Buy nursing versions so you can nurse right away.

Coats are an exception. Maternity coats are expensive, so I buy vintage and try to find something I’ll wear until I have time to reassemble my body. Search “cape coat” and “swing coat” on eBay for maternity coats that will transition into your regular wardrobe, like so: Grey Wool Cape Coat.

Maternity Wardrobe Starters for Warmer Climates

A quick list of maternity basics. This will vary by lifestyle and season, but it’s a great base that lets you purchase a few necessary pieces as you realize you need them.

• Knit dresses in neutral colors (2) – High-quality thick jersey that doesn’t thin out too much as it stretches, preferably with hemlines that fall below the knee. That hemline will pull up as your belly grows and lots of ladies get temporary cellulite down to the knee before they give birth.
• Maternity tights in neutrals that work with your dresses (2)
• Maternity leggings or sweats (2)
• Camis with shelf bras (2) – These will transition you to a new bra size, and the support will help you sleep.
• A sundress that works for nursing to be worn as a nightgown – Maternity sleepwear is stupid expensive and it’s usually not as good quality as just buying an Old Navy sundress or equivalent.
• T-Shirts (2 short sleeved, 2 long)
• Undies a size or two up (6 pairs)
• A Hoodie – H&M has lots of long ones right now that aren’t a million dollars. Maternity hoodies can be laughably pricey.
• A Sweater – Bonus if it’s a cardigan because you can wear it multiple ways.
• A coat or cloak
• A pair of flats

If you’ve been through this or are pregnant now, please add your tips and links to good deals in comments. Thanks, mamas.

Jan 7 2015

Should we do another bottle?

Scenario: Affluent neighborhood.

Characters: Four ladies having champagne brunch at the next table.

-Before you move in, at least have the engagement talk. At least make sure it’s moving in that direction.
-Yeah, or like keep your apartment for a few months. Have an escape hatch.

-Like the time I fell out of that limo?

-She’s crazy. Like really crazy. Certifiable.
-…This is your friend?
-I love her, but she’s crazy.

-We should go over. She called the other day to see if we wanted to come over for wine. She’s desperate to get together.
-She’s always desperate for vino.

Dec 29 2014

Working on His Game

Middle-aged man in the tiny coffee shop aisle, black V-neck sweater, business casual pants. He orders a latte, and flirts with the barista.

As they chat, he mimes a dramatic full-body golf swing. At first, I think the motion is a sarcastic gesture, something in reference to their conversation. But he lingers, and in moments where she busies herself with coffee and other customers, he waits to see if she’ll return her attention to him.

When she does not, he tees up for another private round of counter-side golf. Two swings, three, a pause to glance around casually, then four. I step around him to get at the milk.

Dec 19 2014

New Things I Learned This Week

Photograph by Elliott Erwitt

• I read an article that mentions anhedonia. It means living in the absence of pleasure or desire, an affliction sometimes related to depression.

• Have you seen these One Clique mix-and-match heels? You can pair a shoe upper with several shoe bases in their collection. They’re currently sold out.

• November’s O Magazine had a section on what to do when you have ailing or dying parents. I’ve been mulling two parts of Martha Beck’s “You’re Doing Fine:

Consider traditional Tibetan culture, in which children are encouraged to ponder their own demise, where the word for body can be translated as “something you leave behind,” and where revered teachers like Gyalse Rinpoche advise, “If you have got to think about something, make it the uncertainty of the hour of your death.” Does that upset you? Then you’re at war with one of the few certainties in life.

and also

When a friend of mine was dying, she said something I’ll never forget. “Guilt is useless,” she began. “If you did something wrong, let it go. If there’s something you’re doing wrong now, do better. If you can’t do better, forgive yourself.”

Dec 16 2014

Alone with Bob Dylan

The Swedish film series Experiment Ensam (Experiment Alone) explores how much of our enjoyment comes from company. Among other experiments, they arranged for Bob Dylan to play a concert for one man. (via Kottke)

Are you a person who does things on your own? If so, I’m curious about what types of things. I’ve said before that I enjoy eating alone, I think I’d be happy at a movie too. But I’m not a huge fan of traveling alone, and if it came to a concert from one of my idols, I’d so much rather have a friend along so we could grin stupidly at each other.

Dec 10 2014

How to Make Tinsel Tassels

When I was a kid we always decorated the tree with Christmas tree icicles, so I threw some in the cart this year. Then I wondered if I could use them to make cheapie tassels instead.

After some clumsy attempts using twine and ribbon to fashion the tassels, I pulled out some craft wire and voila! They’re super quick, about $1 each, and you can even leave them up for New Year’s. You’ll need:

Tinsel, one 1,000 strand package per tassle
• About 10 inches of Fine-gauge craft wire per tassel
• Scissors

First you’ll make the wire loop that lets you hang the tassel. Loosely fold the wire in half.

Form a loop by giving the tail wires a couple twists.

Poke one end of the wire beneath all the strands of tinsel.

Pull the wires downward and gather the tinsel into a tighter bunch.

Twist the tail wires together to enclose your bunch of tinsel.

Carefully pull your tinsel out of the package.

You should have something that looks like this now.

Fold your tinsel down with a wire protruding from each side of the bunch. If you give the bunch a little twist, it will make a more attractive tassel head.

Now it’s time to secure the tassel head by wrapping the tail ends of the wire around the top of your bunch. Start with wrapping one wire tail in the direction of your twist until it’s wrapped all the way around.

Now for the second wire. You shouldn’t have to do anything special to finish the wires off, they should just lay flat with a pinch.

Now you have a tassel! Boom. Straighten out any tangeled strands by combing fingers through, or if you’re a perfectionist, you can use a wide-toothed comb. Gentle, my friend.

Clip away any uneven ends or unruly strands.

Yay! Now you can make one thousand more. And then heck, make yourself some pants. Let’s go dancing.