Friday, January 31, 2014

What I've Been Up To This Week

*Battling a very bad case of dry, inflamed skin.  After waking up during the night and sobbing hysterically for a while because my skin was so itchy and painful in places (crazy, right?), I walked to the doctor's office yesterday morning and got a lovely steroid cream that is already doing wonderful things for my skin.  It was actually a very nice walk to the doctor's office -- only 1 mile away; it was snowing but neither very cold (about 15 degrees F) nor very windy; about half of the walk was mostly shoveled clear and the other half was in powdery snow about halfway to my knee.  I also had a migraine at the time (caused by getting under 4 hours of sleep for several nights in a row because of the stupid itching) so being in the cold was really great for that.  But the walk back was kind of tough going -- I had to walk into stronger wind and heavier falling snow for about the first half of the way, freezing my face; the snow had gotten deeper but also wetter and harder to get through; I had a sort of heavy bag I had to carry over my shoulder (as Robert put it, like Santa Claus) because the snow was too deep the last half of my walk to carry any other way without it getting caught up in the drifts.  But my tall Sorel snow boots were totally awesome.  My feet were dry and warm the entire time.

*Reading books.  I am working my way through the Horatio Hornblower series right now, and I read two of them this week.  I followed that with the second book in the amazing Temeraire fantasy series by Naomi Novak.  How do you take a story set in the British naval side of the Napoleanic Wars (you know, like the Hornblower series and the Patrick O'Brien novels I love) and make it even better?  Add dragons!

*Applying to jobs.  I applied to two state jobs (research/evaluation) today -- I was able to use the same resume for both, so that was pretty easy-peasy.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sick Person Book Reading

I still have not heard back from the job interview I had on the 16th, but I'm expecting to hear something this week (because they finished up the first round of interviews last week).  Meanwhile, my Christmas tree is still up, and I think I have finally adjusted to my new bifocals -- I certainly gave myself the opportunity because while I was sick last week, I spent a couple of days where all I did was eat, brush my teeth, shower/dress, sleep, and sit in my comfy chair reading books.  I actually sort of astonished myself because I read 6 books in under 3 days.  Thankfully I had both a fresh stash of books that my mom gave me when I visited at Christmas and a pile of books from the library -- this meant that I nice selection to choose from, unlike when sometimes haven't been to the library recently and am down to like 6 books I got from my mom 10 months ago that I still don't really want to read.

Let's see if I can remember what books I read.  I think this is the order...

Shiny Water by Anna Salter:  I'm a huge fan of thrillers featuring (clinical) psychologists, so my standards in this genre are lower than in most others.  This one tackled sexual abusers of children, not exactly a comfortable topic, but a very interesting one.  I sort of liked the characterization of the protagonist (our forensic psychologist) -- it is somewhat rare, in my experience, to read a book with a female lead that is unlikeable (despite having many fine qualities, like being on the obvious side of "good" in the good vs. evil thing going in the story) in quite the way this one is.  She's not a narcissist, or an airhead, or a shrew.  It feels like she's written sort of as a man rather than a woman in many respects, so yeah, I guess she's some variant of the Tough Cookie type.  I was not surprised by whodunit, but it was a pretty enjoyable ride nonetheless, and I'll probably read the next book in the which it's obvious what the main story is going to have to be.  She would not introduce the "manipulative evil mastermind currently serving time behind bars who has a complex relationship to the protagonist" character not to have him unleashed upon the world in the next book.

Specials by Scott Westerfeld:  This is the third book in the (youth) series and...well, I'm getting a bit tired of it all.  Oh, what will this Strong Female Character do next to feel guilty about even though she's basically saving the world? and that kind of shit.  I liked Uglies (setting up the universe, etc.) and Pretties (a meaty story) more than this one.  However, it's easy and undemanding reading, with a fast-moving plot, so it was well-suited to my sick, semi-brain-dead state.  I enjoyed reading it more than I liked it, if that makes sense.

Missing Persons by Stephen White:  I'm a big fan of this clinical psychologist thriller series.  One of the downsides to getting books from my mom is that I don't always get all of the books in a series, in the proper sequential order, etc., because my mom sometimes reads some of them from the library instead of buying them and passing them on to me.  (I mean: the hell?  You'd think she works for the library or something, the way she uses it.)  The main story was interesting and complicated (though I did not personally find the whole Jon Benet parallel thing as compelling as some might have done) but I think my favorite part was the characterization of the protagonist's patient Bob (and the other patients).  I probably would be 90% satisfied just reading about his patients, without a main thriller storyline.  It's funny -- there is no way in hell I would ever want to be a clinical psychologist, but I enjoy getting to peek into this universe (which is, of course, very condensed, with the most boring 95% of content removed).

Friends Lovers Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith (of No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency fame):  This is the second book in the series, and I liked it more than the first one.  The first one was pretty good, but it felt slow and a bit frustrating as it set up the universe and characters -- and because these books do not have the powerfully driving plot that many mystery novels have, you kind of notice the slowness of this set up period more than you might otherwise.  One of the absolutely most astonishing aspects of this book was finding out that our protagonist is about my age, perhaps a couple years older.  I really thought from the first book that she was meant to be significantly older -- at least 50.  (It is quite possible that her actual age was mentioned in the first book as well and that I simply did not notice it.)  Are other people my age that old seeming in their thoughts?  I don't consider myself in the "still waiting to become a grown up" category, but...damn.

Also, I do not understand the universe in which this woman is the editor of any kind of academic journal.  She is not herself associated with a university, and it's not clear whether she even has a PhD (though I do recall that she studied philosophy at Cambridge as an undergrad so perhaps I overlooked mention of her graduate training).  I sort of hope that we're not to believe that she does because I find her introspection on these ethical issues of a whimsical, armchair variety (you know, the kind that is understandable by most of us, and engaged in by many of us, who are not philosophers), not the rigorous thought of a trained philosopher (though perhaps even trained philosophers are kind of fluffy thinkers much of the time, I don't know).  The author himself is a professor -- of law, though, for what that's worth -- so it's not like the basics of academia are unfamiliar to him, which makes me wonder if I'm just not getting something here.  Although there is an obvious appeal to making "editing a journal of applied philosophy" the part-time job of this independently wealthy person, it's enough of an unlikely scenario that it gets in the way of my ability to just flow with the story.  It's like....well, a lot of these kinds of mysteries have this problem.  For example, the number of female amateur sleuths in novels who, here, in the modern era, support themselves financially and with a reasonable degree of comfort and security running brick-and-mortar knitting shops must well exceed the total number of profit-making knitting shops in the entire nation.  But I am able to say, well, OK, right now I only have to accept that this one woman is making a going concern of this one knitting shop -- I can ignore the implausibility of the numbers generated by the genre en masse.  The free market is the free market -- weirder things have happened than some woman made money selling yarn.  But I struggle to accept this woman's job as part of Academia As I Know It.  Perhaps later books in the series will help backfill some of her story (e.g., her own academic credentials/past research/publications that allow her to stay connected to academia as an independent scholar) and present details that make it easier to accept her career.  I will give them that chance.

Anyway, I think this series would be especially appealing to those who like their cozy mysteries light on serious crime but with an extra helping of philosophical musing. 

Divergent by Veronica Roth:  Of the books I read during this period, this one clearly wins the "Book Easiest to Write A Huge Amount About" award.  Now that I've read, fairly recently, the Hunger Games series, the Uglies series, and the first one of this series, I'm starting to see a lot of commonalities in the young adult science fiction genre, so many aspects of this book just did not feel as fresh to me as they probably would have without all of this exposure.  That being said, even though I did not enjoy it as much as Hunger Games, it's definitely the most obviously thought-provoking of the lot.  One of my first thoughts being, Oh good!  Somebody is finally taking that whole Harry Potter Sorting Hat thing and putting real stakes on it.  I mean, was I the only person who felt that was an idea that somebody absolutely had to exploit?  (I have no idea whether Roth was consciously aware of this similarity or not when writing the book, but as a reader, I'd been hungry for something of this nature.)

And of course, I was hugely interested in seeing a little bit into the mechanism that was used for this sorting...and I was actually rather disappointed in it.  From reading the author's commentary, I got the sense that she has a background in social psychology, etc., (and that does shine through many aspects of the story), but man, the methodology used to determine which faction someone belongs in was just.....Not Good.  By which I mean, it is vaguely possible that you would be able to classify someone's personality using this methodology more accurately than throwing a 5-sided die, but I'm not sure.  (Indeed, you'd be much better off just assigning everyone to the faction that they grew up in.)

The way the sorting happens is that people are placed in a simulation and have to make a small number of choices/take a few actions, then based on this behavior, they are placed in one of the 5 factions.  So I put myself into this scenario:  I enter the simulator and am immediately given the choice to take either a knife or a hunk of cheese.  There is no context to this; there is no clear sense of what your choice means or what you'll be facing next.  How do I decide?  You know, maybe I've just read too many Choose Your Own Adventure books and played too many role-playing/adventure games, but I would probably choose the item that I felt would make me the most ready for anything -- it's really a defensive kind of choice, and that's not how I live or want to live my life.  I actually expected, given those particular choices, that I would be facing a Mean Rat in the next phase and that they were going to see if I tried to kill it with the knife or tried to placate/distract it with the cheese.

The protagonist has difficulty deciding between the knife and the cheese...and this is apparently a surprising and uncommon reaction within the universe of the book.  Really?  Of course, my dad would find it nearly impossible not to make a joke by cutting the cheese with the knife and probably then eating the cheese.  (And there is No Way my dad would be alone in this.  We're talking about teenagers here, peeps.)

This is a really bad way to go about categorizing people.  The simulator doesn't measure someone's preferences for a knife versus cheese, let alone an affinity for what those items are supposed to represent -- it's looking at a very, very short series of choices.  And looking at a person's choices without any context this way is pretty useless.  It's also pretty damn stimulus-specific.  I would choose a knife over cheese (I don't really like most cheese, and I wouldn't eat it without a lactaid enzyme except under dire straits, and I'm probably too fucking nervous about this test to be hungry, and I sure hope I'm not going to be here so long that I get hungry enough to eat this cheese), but would I choose a knife over chocolate?  Would I choose a knife over a fuzzy bunny rabbit?!  And what do the choices mean?  Maybe I should take the knife so I can kill anything dangerous the bunny and I might encounter, or at least keep it busy so the bunny can get away.  Or maybe I should take the knife so I can kill the bunny.  WTF??

I also found it insanely laughable that it was somehow the rare person who had matches to multiple categories (Oooh, you're a dangerous divergent!) -- perhaps in addition to her study of social psych, she should have looked into the personality literature as well because I don't think personality typologies (for all their intuitive appeal) have fared well in recent years.  I think most of us would look at the 5 options and feel that we have strong associations with more than one of them.  It's not just Harry Potter and Whatever-Her-Name-Is that have complex personalities.  (I'm a lover and a fighter, watch out!)

This makes it sound like I disliked the book, but I didn't -- it's just that clearly this whole ridiculous personality measurement/social classification system hits me where I live.

The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber:  I'm really running out of steam now, so it's good that this book does not involve psychology, academia, or anything else that is likely to push my buttons.  It's a literary thriller of the "Somebody has discovered a lost play by Shakespeare!" variety, but it's much more about characterization than it is about plot.  (That's a good thing because I think the mysteries must have been pretty un-mysterious given how easily I figured out what was going on behind the scenes.  The protagonist does at least acknowledge that he was a major doofus not to figure these things out for himself.)  The main character is kind of a dick, but that's okay -- I'm cool with the anti-hero thing.  I enjoyed the relationship between two of the characters but was somewhere between disappointed and astonished that they ended up staying together at the end, after the truth had been revealed.  Whaaaaa?  The guy is a fucking tool, and I don't have much time for that.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Rounding Out 2013: Part 2

Leopard and Gingerbread Men -- 12/23/13

It just isn't Christmas if I don't wear my gingerbread men socks!

Oddly, I did not take photos of my Christmas Eve outfit that I wore to the aquarium or my Christmas Day outfit.  Too busy having fun?  Anyway, I remember what I wore on Christmas, so perhaps I will recreate it and wear it again for the blog.

Black Birthday Vest -- 12/26/13

Having a December birthday means that my mom's tendency to give everyone their birthday gifts at Christmas (now that we don't exchange Xmas gifts) doesn't affect me very much.  I actually picked this one out myself when the PJs she originally bought were too small -- damn you, juniors sizing!  Now that I've re-discovered the wonders of vests for winter layering, I'm happy to have added a plain black vest to my mix.

And yep, I'm standing in what appears to be an identical pose in these two photos -- and the fact that I'm wearing the same jeans and shoes makes them even more weirdly similar.  

New item:
**Black vest (gifted)

Home Again -- 12/29/13

You can tell I'm home again because I'm no longer wearing the red/blue/white/black color scheme of my holiday.  I was really pleased with how the new scarf worked with the argyle sweater -- I had not been as crazy about the other combinations with this sweater, but the geometric pattern of the scarf worked well with the argyle print, and the purple highlight colors in the two pieces were a nice match.  In any event, I'm finding this sweater to be surprisingly difficult to wear with a scarf.  It'll probably be easier to incorporate in outfits once I'm wearing it in warmer weather.

New item:
**Geometric print scarf from Kohl's

Alice Birthday Scarf -- 12/30/13

I ordered this scarf for myself on Etsy as a birthday present after seeing someone else wearing the Jane Austen version from the same store.  It took a while to get here, but it was worth both the wait and the cost ($40).   (And YES, you get both the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat visible at the same time when wearing it!)  Also, I have to admit that I am totally geeking out over the fact that I took this photo in a mirror so you are seeing everything, you know, in Through the Looking Glass.  How fucking perfect things can be at times.  (Click on the photo to zoom in for the full awesome effect.)

They actually have scarves in a bunch of cool designs -- for example, I think the Skyrim map one is hilarious (esp. given how the game is infamous for having really crappy in-game maps).  The Wild Things one is So Much Fun (I would pick this one for Tam).  If my mom wore scarves, I would have to get her this one with classic books covers to wear to work at the library.  (If that's not a library conversation piece, I don't know what is.)

New items:
**Alice in Wonderland scarf from NerdAlertCreations
**Blue pullover sweater (thrifted)

Striped Sweater and Button Up Shirt -- 12/31/13

During my vacation, one day my mom wore a pullover sweater with a button up shirt underneath it, and I loved how it looked.  (It didn't hurt that the two items were in very similar shades of any icy lavender color that my mom with her pale skin and ashy hair totally rocks.)  So I decided to try this myself with two items I'd purchased at Goodwill. 

New items:
**Navy blue button up shirt (thrifted; Eddie Bauer)
**Navy and orange striped sweater (thrifted; Nautica)
**Hammered silver necklace from Jones New York

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Rounding Out 2013: Part 1

Lucky Ducks -- 12/15/13

On the drive south over the Christmas holiday, we stopped and did some birding at a lake north of Kansas City with the intention of seeing ducks -- birds that I (with all my southern birding biases) think of as classic winter birds but do not see in winter in MN.  And indeed, this is apparently far south enough to be a place to see wintering ducks, geese, etc.  No new birds for the list, but we had a nice outing -- it was cool, but not too cold.  The ice that had previously formed at the edge of the lake was melting on the sunny morning that we visited.

Black and White Make Grey -- 12/17/13

I brought a wardrobe of red, white, blue, black, and grey for the trip with an emphasis on layering.

My mom had unknowingly been on board with this color scheme because she bought me a black/white glittery necklace for my birthday.

New items (I'm starting to forget which are new and which aren't):
**Black and white tweed jacket that looks basically grey (thrifted)
**Birthday necklace (gifted)

Driving Like An Animal -- 12/18/13

For the drive down to Texas, I dressed really comfy....which perhaps oddly meant wearing a skirt, tights, and my rain boots.  (I did all the driving on our trip wearing my rain boots to save space in the luggage, but it turned out to be really functional also.)  This zebra print top looks like a sweatshirt (I love the big front pocket) but is made from thinner material, which is quite useful.

(Note that you can already see my luggage and bedding getting messier as the trip goes on, even after only a couple days.)

New item:
**Brown/black zebra top from Jones New York

Christmas in Texas -- 12/19/13

Because Robert's mom is still living with a friend until her new house gets painted, etc., we stayed at a hotel -- this was really nice in some ways (e.g., big "real" bed to sleep in, our own bathroom).  It was warm, though not as ridiculously warm as it was the previous year, so I didn't need much in the way of layers.  Just a long-sleeved knit shirt and shoes compatible with walking on the uneven, muddy ground of the nature center and her new property.

New item:
**Grey leopard print shirt from Jones New York (the place for animal print)

What to Wear in Denton, TX -- 12/20/13

The forecast called for rain, which we got, and it was actually kind of cool in the evening.  I had a great time hanging with Tam and her katzes (and her roommate).  Because Tam had liked this striped shirt when I posted it before, I chose to wear it when visiting her.

New items:
**Red statement necklace from....I'm already forgetting these things, but I think Kohl's

Ice Ice Baby -- 12/21/13

Driving back to my parents' house, we experienced almost the only bad weather in the country.  (According to the weather channel, there was also a bit of snow/ice in like northern NH and there was rain with possible flooding in Georgia, but otherwise the relatively small area encompassing our route was where the weather action was.)  It didn't cause us any problems on our drive, but it did make for sparkly ice on everything.  I made the mistake of saying to Robert that it was pretty, and he said yes but it's going to take down tree limbs and stuff.  OK, yes, true -- but if it has to be annihilating, it might as well be nice to look at, too.

 Christmas Cardinals -- 12/22/13

I decided to buy a cardinal print shirt for my Christmas themed shirt this year.  Cardinals are definitely associated with Christmas -- my impression is that 43.8% of Christmas cards have at least one cardinal on them, and the average number of cardinals per card is probably close to 1 -- but they are, you know, regular birds that exist and do their thing all year round.  And I like wearing bird shirts, so this was a no-brainer.

New items:
**Cardinal knit shirt from Kohl's (arrived just before we left town for the trip -- I was so glad that it made it in time)
**Red cardigan from Jones New York

And if you are in any doubt of the aptness of cardinals at Christmas, I offer this photo taken from my parents' yard as evidence.

Bare tree branches with bright red male cardinals on shirt.  Bare tree branches with bright red male cardinals in yard.  We have a match!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

This Reminds Me of a Thing

Reading this post that touches on "health," size acceptance, and self-esteem, I was reminded of an article I read during graduate school that really surprised and disturbed me. 

The focus of the article was a review of research about the relationship between positive ethnic identity (i.e., feeling good about being X ethnicity) and various outcomes like academic achievement, healthy behaviors, etc.  The paper discussed the ways that positive ethnic identity generally was a good thing for people (including white people, which was kind of weird, but whatever), but also a few findings that they described as showing that having a positive ethnic identity can lead to bad outcomes -- such as: African-American women who have a positive ethnic identity report higher levels of satisfaction with their body, even when they are overweight, than their counterparts with a less positive ethnic identity. 

So I guess they're saying that having a positive ethnic identity is bad because it makes you feel good about yourself even when you are a fat person who should obviously hate your body, which is a necessary precursor to engaging in "healthy" behaviors like dieting, plastic, wait, what?!  I was pretty astonished by this, and it really affected my thinking about a future doing academic social psychological research related to health. 

Despite what seems like quite clear evidence to the contrary, mainstream beliefs like weight = health, dieting is Good, body dissatisfaction among fat people is Good (because it motivates people to diet, which is Good), and all that jazz permeate this field of the extent that a scholar can state, without controversy, that being associated with satisfaction with one's body size is an obvious downside to having a positive ethnic identity.  There was apparently no consideration of the idea that a person who is satisfied with/accepting of her body might be more likely to do things to take care of it (e.g., go to the doctor regularly, nourish it well) than a person who is at war with her body.  No consideration of the immense stress women who are dissatisfied with their bodies experience and the demonstrated negative impact of stress on health.  No consideration of the extreme lengths that women who hate their bodies and are desperate to look different will go to, and how unhealthy many of those behaviors are. 

When are people going to get a grip that the idea that accepting fat people "encourages obesity" is basically ridiculous.

Monday, January 13, 2014


I've decided this morning that a goal for myself this year is to embrace halfassedness.  As a hyper-conscientious person, this is something that does not come naturally, but that is nevertheless a useful quality to have.  I think most of my readers are well-versed in halfassedness and have experienced its benefits in their lives.

My usual method of cleaning the apartment is to do so from top to bottom (i.e., cleaning high surfaces down to cleaning the floors) and to do a pretty thorough job (of the things I am willing to do -- some things I just don't ever do or do very rarely as part of a "big clean" project).  But I haven't had the energy since getting sick last week to do this, and the apartment floors especially were looking pretty ratty and annoying me.  So this morning I wiped down the counters in the kitchen and vacuumed all the floors, stopping short of mopping the bathrooms or upstairs.  This is the amount that I had the energy/will to do.  And even though it's far from completely cleaned, the apartment does look better and I feel better about it -- both because the apartment is cleaner and because I have done enough that I no longer feel the huge task "clean the apartment" hanging over me.  It was strange but nice to do a halfassed job of cleaning the apartment.

I also had some shoes I wanted to clean so I could wear them today, so I cleaned them and then on the spur of the moment did a halfassed job of polishing (just using leather lotion and a cloth) half a dozen of my pairs of shoes and three of Robert's (that have taken a beating because he wears his nice leather shoes to work and walks across the slushy/salty/etc. parking lot).  I could have done a much better job, but I think this halfassed approach got me about 80% of the way there.  (Note: I also had the realization that the fact that I hate how Robert's shoes get salty around the edges because he wears them on the parking lot is my problem that has a very easy solution that does not involve me trying to convince him to change his behavior, which is both unlikely to work and is objectively unreasonable and annoying.)

Other areas I want to try being more halfassed about:
*Looking for a job
*Writing on this blog
*Keeping in touch with people

Doing these things to a consistently very high standard is exhausting, and having a standard you don't feel up to meeting results in not doing them at all -- both of these outcomes are not good and both feel stressful (in different ways). 

Psychologists conceptualize a lot of things in terms of an inverted U function -- that the outcome is better at moderate levels than at either extreme.  Most famously, the relationship between arousal (stress) and performance is described as an inverted U -- people perform best under moderate stress.  (This is something that probably makes intuitive sense to you and that you've experienced for yourself -- or observed in other people you know.  The person who is so stressed, they freak out; the person who is so unworried, they just don't do anything.)

Image from Psychlopedia

Instead of thinking of stress as the causal variable, I'm concerned for myself right now with my stress level (especially my experience of feeling stressed) as an outcome variable.  (Of course, I am also concerned with performance, but I am actually trying to get away from being as obsessed with and self-identified with performance as I've been in the past.)  I'm wondering whether (hoping that) being more halfassed about things will improve my feeling of stress, while maintaining a level of performance that is adequate.

The whole "satisicing vs. maximizing" discussion in psychology and economics circles is also relevant here, I think.  The classic domain for this idea is in decision-making -- the idea that some people/people in some situations will put in a lot of effort to arrive at an optimal decision (e.g., researching all available blenders to find the blender with the best set of features for the price) while other people/people in other situations will use heuristics/rules of thumb to arrive at a "good enough" decision" (e.g., going to a store and picking a blender that looks fine and is from a reputable seeming brand). One of the findings of this line of research is that satisficers are happier than maximizers and experience less regret over their decisions.

And there are approximately 8,000 other theories that are consistent with this general idea that less can be more.

So's not like I've developed some amazing rare insight into anything.  It's more that I actually feel like applying these things to my own life...though I am going to do that in a halfassed way as well.  I have no master plan for becoming a more halfassed person.

My normal approach to writing a blog post like this would have been to think about it more and wait until I felt I had the time/energy to write about my ideas more completely....which leads to not writing the post at all 90% of the time.  I was thinking about this halfassedness idea while vacuuming the floor upstairs, and I decided to sit down and write the post as soon as I finished with that task.  So in the spirit of halfassedness, I offer you this halfassed blog post on the topic.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

And So It Begins Again

Finally emerging from my awful sinus infection world to the land of the living, I received a very surprising phone call this morning regarding a job application with a state agency that I had completed on November 20 -- they are bringing 7 applicants in for interviews next week with the executive director and I am one of them.  The wheels of government move slowly indeed.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Wimpy Weekend

I came down with a sinus infection Friday evening and I've been in pretty bad shape ever since.  This is the first time I've had the energy to actually sit up at my computer since then, and I'm not sure I'm going to last very long.  Fortunately I've had a good collection of books to read (including Lieutenant Hornblower that I picked up at the library on my walk to the dentist Friday afternoon) and puzzles from Sunday's newspaper to do while lying and dozing in my comfy chair.  Saturday afternoon I dragged myself pathetically down to my bed and slept like the dead for hours in a way that I only do when I'm quite sick.

Yesterday afternoon, Robert and I drove about an hour southeast of Snow City to an area where up to seven snowy owls had been seen over the past week, but despite a couple of hours of staring at snow-covered, grass-stippled fields in the sun, we didn't see any owls.  (I did get a massive headache and a case of the grumps, though.)  Luckily, we were able to look for owls from the car, driving along the country roads, because it was about -2 F outside (which was quite chilly we found when we stopped for a bathroom break).  Today is worse:  it's -16 F right now.  I'm definitely staying in.  I don't think my sore throat could tolerate even a normal winter day right now, let alone cold bad enough that school has been canceled.