Wednesday, June 18, 2008

An orange product recommendation

Did I ever tell y'all about my fondness for Trident fruit-flavored gum? It came in an orange package, and the gum was light orange in hue. The flavor was mellower than Juicyfruit, but because it's Trident, it was sugar-free. It was my favorite gum, but it was discontinued by 1997 or so. Don't give me that "Tropical" or "Strawberry Breeze" or "Citrusmint" malarkey—none of those gums have anything like Trident's old fruit flavor.

When I visited Prague in 1997, I was delighted to find Orbit sugarless gum with a strikingly similar taste. I brought a few packs back home with me...but soon enough I was out of fruit gum again. My dear friend Robin was living in Europe and tried—lord knows, she tried!—to get more of this gum for me. Alas, Orbit quit selling that fruit-flavored gum. There were other gums that claimed to be fruity or that had orange packaging, but they weren't the same.

After more than a decade of waiting, at last I have found a reasonable facsimile: Spry Fresh Fruit gum sweetened with xylitol. Xylitol is good for the teeth! (Really: There's a wealth of scientific data supporting xylitol's efficacy in fighting cavities.)

Sure, you need two pellets to have a decent-sized wad of gum, and the flavor doesn't last too long. But it transports me back to the halcion days of the '80s and '90s, when Trident fruit-flavored chewing gum was available at every 7-Eleven and gas station across the land.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Diversity in fabrics and people

You know what's a fun way to buy a new purse, handbag, clutch, messenger bag, or diaper bag?

(1) Go to an 1154 Lill Studio store (in Chicago's Lincoln Park, Boston, Philadelphia, or Kansas City) or their website/

(2) Choose a style.

(3) Mix and match with about 150 different fabrics to design your very own super-cute bag.

Today, I ordered the Sophie bag with pink and green fabrics (key lime twill, bubble gum linen, morning glory). You can play around on the website, trying a zillion different combos.

The prices may seem a little high for a fabric bag, but they're sewn in Chicago, not China, and provided you don't choose a horrendous combination of fabrics, you're going to get plenty of compliments on your probably-unique bag.


So, the Chicago 1154 Lill store is on Armitage, in the heart of a Lincoln Park boutique shopping district. Nearby was a salon that appears to be dedicated to facial bronzing. I don't know what that means. You go in and someone else applies self-tanner to your face so you don't "tan" your palms? I don't know. It did strike me as quite possibly the whitest business concept that there has ever been.

There's a lot of money in that neighborhood, and a lot of white people. Driving home from Armitage to our more diverse neighborhood, we made a game of labeling the pedestrians and cyclists we passed. Like this: "White, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, brown, white, white, white, white, white, tan, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, black, black, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white, white." Down in Lincoln Park, I think there were at least 30 white folks for every person of color.

It struck me as a good method for sizing up just how diverse or not diverse a particular area is. I think it's easy for the typical white person to fail to notice those first 30 white people and just notice the occasional variation: "Oh, yeah, this neighborhood's really diverse. You always see people of a variety of ethnic backgrounds." But if you are a person of color, perhaps you notice those 30 white people in a row: "It's an almost all-white area."

Try it out yourself, the white/tan/brown/black game. (Tan is Ben's designation for most Asian and Latin American skin tones.) Maybe you'll find it as illuminating as I did.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Slow down for the crosswalk

The Chicago Tribune reports that the Chicago police will start publicizing the crosswalk laws this week. It's about time! There are so many crosswalks at small intersections or in the middle of a long block—without stop signs or traffic signals. Most drivers seem to assume that these crosswalks don't give pedestrians the same right of way that they're granted at corners with stop signs or red lights. But it's not so. If a pedestrian has entered one of those renegade crosswalks, he or she does have the right of way, and the driver is required by law to cede the right of way and wait for the pedestrian to pass safely.

The cops will be crossing the street in some of those crosswalks and issuing warning tickets to people who don't yield to them.

Now, those of you in places like Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California may find it odd that drivers wouldn't naturally slow down to let people cross the street. But Chicago drivers tend to keep plowing through, even though slowing for a pedestrian is a minor inconvenience.

So if you're driving in Chicago's neighborhoods, pay attention. If a pedestrian's in the street, don't play chicken with them. Slow down, let 'em cross. Even if you could zip past before the walker reaches your lane, slow down and wave them across. Some pedestrians will insist that you go, and others will be pleased as punch that a Chicago driver's actually being nice.

Jaywalking is technically illegal, but I suspect the law requires drivers to ease off the gas pedal and not try to run over jaywalkers.

Imagine the karma points that you'll rack up, letting people cross the street in front of you. Extra bonus points in crappy weather or hot, muggy weather, when the pedestrian just wants to get where she's going and you're comfortably ensconced in your climate-controlled vehicle.

This is my first attempt at posting straight from my phone. I fear you will need to tilt your head to see the Police concert photo.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hitching a ride

Why bother writing my own post about going to the Police concert on Mother's Day weekend with Flea when I can just link to her write-up? My own version wouldn't make fun of me like Flea's does, but I am willing to accept a little public abasement if it means getting out of doing some work.

Speaking of getting other people to do my work for me, does anyone know if there's a way to send a photo from a Verizon phone to Blogger?