Sunday, November 30, 2014

A Lagging Indicator of the Weather

Falling -- Saturday, 11/22/14

After trying several ideas trying to make my (lightweight) bird cardigan work for the cold day despite not having a long-sleeved knit shirt in a coordinating color, and realizing that the sleeves are too tight for most long-sleeved shirts to work underneath anyway, I had to face the fact that my beloved bird cardigan is a spring/summer/fall sweater for Snow City.

As part of this doomed outfit creation attempt, I discovered that I really do have too high a short-sleeved to long-sleeved ratio in my closet, esp. for knit shirts.  For example, I have 3 brown short-sleeved knit shirts, but no long-sleeved ones -- I bought two of them at Goodwill in the Snow City area, suggesting that perhaps other people here have the same problem.

So I gave the bird cardigan idea up and wore this very fall-looking outfit.

White long-sleeved T (Walmart)
*Olive cable-knit cardigan (thrifted, Eddie Bauer)
Straight-legged jeans (Kohls)
*Tan ankle boots by Easy Spirit (Nordstrom)
*Green/brown scarf (Kohls)

Everybody else has been wearing fall colors, etc., for weeks now, but I wait until it's basically winter (by temperature if not by calendar) to start doing so.  You might have noticed that this tendency to dress for last month (or earlier) is not uncommon for me.  Robert described me as a "lagging indicator of the weather."  So about the time I have started wearing seriously winterized outfits, you can be assured that spring in Snow City is around the corner (or has already arrived -- I wore tights and tall boots into May last year).

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Awesome Power

Book Review: Deadline by John Sandford

3.5 stars

I really understand if you think that rednecks are a southern phenomenon, but allow the Virgil Flowers novels by John Sandford demonstrate to you otherwise.  Rural Minnesota has a ton of them.  I liked this book, but I think part of it was that there was some alternative person in my head (a man) who really liked it while I personally thought it was just okay (though I will say that the school board conspiracy aspect was hilarious and the anti-dog-napper crusaders were well-played).  It was very well done, and I did enjoy reading it, but it's just not quite to my taste...a little too folksy and colorful and quirky and man-centric (that last one is probably the main problem--I feel strongly that this is a book written by a man for men).  The Virgil Flowers series of books (this is only the second one I've read, so I'm extrapolating) are not my thing in a similar way that Elmore Leonard books are not my thing.

Speaking of deadlines...Friday was my deadline for a project that was horrible and stressful all week from a combination of network issues slowing me down to a crawl (I mostly worked on my local hard drive, but getting the files I needed to use off the server was a pain) and people not finishing their parts of the work soon enough.  I was really worried that I'd have to work on the weekend, and for a person who was only (barely) getting through the week by thinking of the glorious work-free Saturday and Sunday to come, that was painful and filled me with dread.  On Friday, I needed something to keep me from killing everyone in the world in a murderous rage. 

So...bunnies, of course.

Day 25: Dressed Down -- Friday, 11/21/14

I took casual Friday a step more casual than usual with my (excellent) Watership Down t-shirt, trouser jeans, and a cardigan made from sweatshirt-like material.  And snazzy boots.  Wearing bunnies cheered me up!  And because school wasn't in session, the network was running at its normal pace, so I was finally able to power through the work at a reasonable speed and finish the project before 4 p.m.!  I felt really elated when I left work at 4:30...until I got to my car (which I had to park at the very farthest end of the parking lot because there was a professional development training session with a lot of people who usually work somewhere else in attendance) and tried to open the door and nothing happened.  What?  I tried again.  Oh shit.  I forgot my purse in my desk again.  But even having to tromp all the way back across the parking lot and upstairs and back to the end of the lot again in the below 10 degree weather was not enough of an annoyance to entirely dim my satisfaction with the fact that I was not working over the weekend.  (My boss is, because he's the one who has to review the work before it's sent on Monday, but that's not my problem.)

Watership Down t-shirt (Out of Print)
Trouser jeans (thrifted, JCP)
*Navy/blue sweatshirt cardigan (thrifted, Rafaella)
Navy ankle boots by Seychelles (Zappos)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Now For Something That Looks Different

Book Review: Your Face in Mine by Jess Row

3.5 stars

You're walking down the street of your hometown, where you have returned after a crushing personal tragedy only to have your unhappiness compounded by a depressing professional calamity, and you see a familiar-seeming man on the street.  You rack your brain, trying to think of a black man you know well enough that he would look this familiar to you, and you come up empty.  But when he gets closer, he's a high school friend who played in a band with you for a couple of years...your friend who was white (with some Jewish ancestry).  WTF?  Your friend explains to you that he's had racial reassignment surgery (a very cutting edge, secret series of operations in southeast Asia) and is now married to a black woman and living as a black man.  But he wants to go public with his story, and he wants you (conveniently now otherwise unemployed) to help him craft the narrative.

This is a crazy-promising premise for a novel, no?  And it starts out really good.  And then at some point, it just gets kind of bogged down, and then it turns weird.  Not like eerie-spooky weird, just like, wait, the characters are doing what now?  Where did that come from?  And the pay off I had been so curious about (e.g., what will your friend's wife do when she finds out?) never comes.  Instead we get a kind of implausible, meh ending.  It was hitting 2 star level by the very end.  This is too bad because the central idea was so smart and interesting.

I did not make any radical changes like that for my outfit, but I did try a personal style challenge that pushed me to do something different that's a bit outside my comfort zone.

Personal Style Challenge:  Ankle Pants with Ankle Boots -- Thursday, 11/20/14

Everybody else in the world is wearing this combination, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I had a couple of new items that came together very easily into an outfit.  It was comfortable and flattering enough.  (Yes, I wore black trouser socks under those boots.  I was not about to do the stylish "leave an inch of bare ankle poking out above your boots" thing during the 8-15 degree F days.)

And it featured a new scarf with pretty birds on it!

It's hard to go wrong with a bird scarf and a pair of bad-ass maroon boots.

White long-sleeved T (Lands End)
Black ankle pants (thrifted, Eileen Fisher)
Maroon cascade cardigan (Coldwater Creek)
*Maroon ankle boots by Dolce Vita (Nordstrom)
*Beige bird scarf (Kohls)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

All Mixed Up

Last week was such a hard week.  I was tired and headachy and going bonkers at work with slow-as-frozen-molasses network issues while running up against a deadline.  Wednesday was a want-to-cry kind of day when I realized I had left my caffeinated tea at home (which I was planning to use for my migraine) AND the insulated mug I use to drink my decaffeinated tea.  And my ulcer was bothering me so I didn't want to risk trying coffee as my caffeine dose.  I thought I might have caffeinated tea bags at work, but I didn't.  (Note: I do now, as well as my grumpy/angry Sylvester the Cat mug.)  Then when I left work at the end of the day (FINALLY), I realized about the time the elevator reached the ground floor that I'd left my purse upstairs in my desk.  It was the Grumps.

But what is not hard?  Mixing stripes, leopard, and herringbone patterns!

Day 16: Pattern Mix #2 -- Wednesday, 11/19/14

This one is pretty subtle by my standards, but I liked it a lot.  It was even warm enough at times during the day to leave off the jacket.  (I'm loving the "happiness is a warm bun" approach of sitting on a heating pad for extra warmth in my office.)

*Black and white striped button up shirt (thrifted, Old Navy)
*Black sweater vest (thrifted, Foxcroft)
Black pants (thrifted, Macy's)
Gold "shelled pea" necklace (Target)
Leopard smoking slippers by Clarks
Black and white herringbone blazer (thrifted, Studio 1940)--I'm not familiar with this brand, but this blazer is da bomb

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dressing Up in Black

Book Review: The Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh

4 stars

I only recently became aware of these books that are a continuation of the Peter Wimsey mystery novels.  OK, I've read a few of the original Sayers novels, but I was never a huge Peter Wimsey fan and do not really remember them well enough to assess how well Walsh's books stand up against them.  So my review is based on the book in itself and not a comparison to the original stories.

I'm a bit of a sucker for murder mysteries set in academia (I am very sad that I have only one of the excellent Inspector Lewis TV mysteries, a police procedural set in Oxford, to watch!) and that's what attracted me to this book.  I was a bit surprised by how much it felt like "Inspector Barnaby, Peer of the Realm, Goes to Oxford in 1952," with people dying left and right and our investigators nonchalantly out of their depth much of the time.  And there was this weird detective-on-vacation thing going on: Hey, somebody just died...look, it's a gorgeous day to go punting, have lunch at a lovely little inn, and then go see some old building!  Fundamentally, the story was ludicrous, but it was entertaining.

I've heard that graduate school in the UK is very easy compared to the US, and here's an extreme example (easy if you have money, of course):

     "I didn't know you had an MA," Paul [Harriet's son] said.

     "You just leave your name on the books, and pay the fees for five years, and then your BA becomes an MA," Harriet admitted.

The best lines in the book occur when Peter asks Harriet:

     "Can I go haring around after bodies without shaving first?" he asked her.

     "Certainly not, Peter," she said. "There is an implication of inattention in an unshaven man that gives the impression of intellectual weakness."

I would give them kudos for the "haring" term but at one point this evil couple eat roast r***** at one of the myriad restaurants they visit during their investigation-vacation. THUMP!

Day 12: Play Dress Up -- Tuesday, 11/18/14

I did not think wearing a black academic gown a la an Oxford don would be appropriate for work, but I did base my outfit on the color black.  My initial version of this outfit used a sleeveless black dress and tights instead of the sweater and pants, but the onslaught of winter made my original version unworkable.  But we will not compare this new version to the original but will instead examine it on its own merits.  It's not really in seasonally appropriate colors, but I didn't want to wait until spring, and a tuxedo jacket is about as dressy an item as I want to wear to work.  One of my co-workers liked its spring/summer quality -- I suppose it did bring a bit of brightness to a dreary day.

Black sweater (thrifted, Liz Claiborne)
Black striped pants (thrifted, JCP)
*Black/floral "Monet" print tuxedo jacket (thrifted, Target) -- the print just reminds me so strongly of a Monet painting
Purple gumdrop necklace (Target)
Black buckle flats by Me Too

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Not a One Hit Wonder

Book Review:  City of Lost Dreams by Magnus Flyte

4.5 stars

This is the sequel to City of Dark Magic, and it avoids the sophomore slump problem that sometimes plagues sequels (I am looking at you, Authority!).  For some reason, I was kind of not into the book for about the first third, but I think it was more about me and my mood at the time than anything wrong with the book.  It was reasonably well-paced and set up the story for the rest of the book in an unobjectionable way, but I just wasn't feeling it.  Then one day I picked it up and started liking it a lot -- go figure.

I want to share with you my favorite lines from the book (don't worry -- it doesn't ruin anything for you if you decide to read the book, and they stand alone just fine if you don't).  One of the characters is a 13 year old blind musical prodigy (who is suffering from a serious illness) who has a dog:

        "Boris. Yoga mat," she said in a loud, firm voice.

        She listened to the sound of her elderly mastiff rising, heard the jingle of his collar make its way to the corner of the room, then cross to her.  Boris nudged her knee and deposited his favorite chew toy, a mangled stuffed lion missing its tail, at her feet.

        "Good boy," said Pols.  Her dog was becoming nearly as deaf as she was blind.  He was also pretty blind.  It was important to consider his feelings, though, and be encouraging.  Boris may not be able to see her, or hear her, but he knew she wanted something, and he had offered her the best thing he possessed.

OK, I'm not much of a dog person, but damn.

City of Lost Dreams demonstrates that City of Dark Magic was not a one hit wonder from the writing team who call themselves Magnus Flyte.  Monday's outfit demonstrated (to my satisfaction) that my brown-and-black vaguely-leopard-print cardigan-jacket-thingy wasn't a one hit wonder either.

Day 24: One Hit Wonder -- Monday, 11/17/14

She defines a one hit wonder as "an item you've only worn one way before."  I think maybe I've only worn this cardigan one time before, so it probably counts as a one hit wonder.  I like it and want to wear it more, so I decided to give it another try in an outfit combining black and brown, which is not something I usually do.  One reason I haven't worn it much is that it is somewhat heavy but it has 3/4 length sleeves -- awkward!  If its cool enough to wear this weight of sweater, it's probably cool enough to wear long sleeves.  But I decided, Fuck it, I'll just wear it with long sleeves in a similar color (so the sticking out sleeves are not crazy-obvious and contrasting).  I was satisfied with the effect and amused to note that one of the women in the HR department had done the same thing with her heavy 3/4 length sleeve sweater.  I don't know if the long-sleeved shirt under 3/4 length sleeve sweater is a thing or not, but it seems like a workable solution to the problem.

I took the photo wearing the brown weather-proof loafers that I wore to work, but I changed into my brown flats when I got there.  (Ever since it snowed, I've been wearing weather-proof shoes/boots to work and changing into my real shoes inside the office.  The snow/slush/ice/sand/salt/mud mix o' nasty in the parking lot is not nice to shoes.)  Damn, this photo doesn't show you much, does it?  Well, I wore pants and a top and they were both dark colors and there is a necklace that is flashing a bit of bright metal.

Black lace-edged knit top (thrifted, Coldwater Creek) -- you can't really tell here, but I liked how the lace peeked out from under the sweater, it added a nice bit of texture and perhaps made the whole "my shirt is sticking out from under this sweater in multiple places" thing seem more intentional
Black/brown leopard-esque cardigan-jacket (thrifted, Josephine Chaus)
Brown cotton pants (thrifted, Nine & Company)
Black tooth/claw necklace (Outfit Additions)
Brown weather-proof loafers (Lands End)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Staying Warm in 90s Style Jeans

Even though my Skyrim office is now my Oblivion office, it's not as much warmer here as you might expect.  Winter has set in completely in Snow City.  So for a Sunday of Oblivion playing, I thought my puffy leopard vest was just the thing with jeans and a comfy shirt.

Day 16:  Pattern Mix -- Sunday, 11/16/14

I know, a normal person would wear a solid shirt with a leopard vest, but I was excited to wear my new striped shirt.  I love stripes, and I have a couple of striped shirts/sweaters, but I did not have any plain black-and-white striped knit shirts.  (This is not something that I ever come across at Goodwill.)  So over the weekend, I went to Kohls and found two excellent ones.  

I also wanted to wear my new black ankle boots, part of my haul from the Nordstrom sale.  And to show them off to best effect, I pegged my straight-legged jeans like it's 1992.  OK, I admit, I did not actually wear my jeans like this all day -- I did it for the amusement value in the photo (and, yes, to expose the boots in the photo).  I hope you are properly entertained/appalled by this time warp fashion.

A detail about this shirt that I love, which is not visible with the vest, is its cool quilted shoulders!

I am happy to have a black-and-white striped knit shirt in my wardrobe.  (I actually do have a short-sleeved one from Walmart that I've had forever, but the season in which short sleeve shirts make a serious return to relevance is months away.  One thing I have noticed is that despite living in Snow City, I still automatically gravitate toward short sleeved shirts.  They feel the most flexible and adaptable -- hey, you can always add a cardigan or jacket!  Wait, I need to add a cardigan or jacket to a long-sleeved shirt or sweater anyway because it's like 0 degrees outside!  Damn! -- but they are definitely of limited value in my current situation.)

*Black-and-white striped top with quilted shoulders (Kohls)
Leopard puffy vest (Macy's)
Straight-legged jeans (Kohls)
*Black pointy-toed ankle boots by Sam Edelman (Nordstrom)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sinus Infection Blues

Day 13: Old Faithful (With a Twist) -- Friday, 11/14/14

Well, after a week of fighting off some kind of illness, I woke up during the night with a fever and other sinus infection symptoms and decided that I wasn't going to go to work.  Luckily, my casual Friday outfit worked just fine for feeling warm and comfy on a puny day.

I have worn this scarf and pants combo before, but decided to make it winter-friendly by upgrading the knit shirt to a sweater (with a T-shirt layered under it) and the flats to socks and ankle boots.

Robert could not resist making the "Feeling blue?" joke, and who can blame him.  This is a majorly blue outfit.  If I were a rabbit, I'd be Blue Bunny.

Blue pullover sweater (thrifted, Studio Works)
Blue Dockers pants
Blue "tie-dye" scarf (Kohls)
*Navy ankle boots by Seychelles

Between two recent Zappos and Nordstrom (anniversary sale) orders, I finally have a boot collection suited to a woman who lives somewhere that has winter for 6 months of the year.  You've seen the grey and navy ankle boots now.  I plan to get the others into the rotation ASAP for your viewing pleasure (and for the happiness of my feet).

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


 Book Review:  The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

4 stars

A historical mystery/romance that's a little bit sexy and a lot unexpected.  It's Britain in 1922, but this is not Downtown Abbey.  An older woman (an uber-snob) and her 26-year-old daughter (a snob-in-training) are trying desperately to keep a foothold in the privileged, moneyed, nice-house-owning class after all their men have died -- the sons in the war, Dad of something I don't remember, but which should be embarrassment over having lost all the family money to a series of terrible, stupid investments. They have already given up their servants (Mom hates seeing her daughter play charwoman and yet, what the fuck else is she supposed to do? Let them live in squalor?  Daughter's job is to do all the dirty work around the house, try to stretch too little money across too many bills, etc., while protecting Mom's delicate sensibilities and outrageous delusions) and a great deal of their ability to keep their crumbling house in a respectable neighborhood of London warm and well-lit, so now they are reduced to taking in lodgers, an outgoing young clerk and his wife.  Intrigue ensues.

Now for an unexpected (but not sexy) work outfit...

Day 17: Layered Necklace -- Thursday, 11/13/14

I wear some necklaces with built-in layers, but I haven't tried layering my own.  I was iffy on this proposition, but gave it a shot with two short necklaces with different shapes -- a hanging pendant and a discreet beaded choker.

*Berry wool pullover sweater (thrifted, Coldwater Creek)
Grey pinstriped Dockers (thrifted)
Black/grey argyle socks (Sock Dreams)
Grey leopard flats by Fergilicious
Black beaded necklace by RB
Silver pendant (thrifted)
Not shown: Quilted black vest (gift from my mom)

Verdict:  I enjoyed everything about the outfit (my bottom half is 3 monochromatic patterns -- yay!) except for the layered necklaces, which I feel pretty meh about.  I don't wear long pedants, which maybe makes this harder to do -- I think a shorter necklace and a longer necklace layer more easily.  I will stick with one necklace at a time in the future, I expect.  (Or a necklace and a scarf, of course!)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Seconds, For Good and Bad

Book Review: Authority by Jeff Vandermeer

2.5 stars

Check out that cover, people -- a crazy-looking, hare-like rabbit (a modern March Hare?) with a broken cell phone.  Intriguing, isn't it?  Especially given how much I enjoyed the first book in this trilogy (Annihilation), I was excited about this book.

Then I opened the book and started reading it.  This is why you don't judge a book by its cover.  Sometimes the cover is way, way more interesting than the book.

It's hard to describe this book and everything that was disappointing about it, but it was sort of like a spy thriller meets The Office only without any intrigue or humor.  One of the reviews on the cover made a comparison to the Lost TV series, and I get that it was similar in the sense that there is something mysterious going on with Area X that our protagonist is trying to figure out (perhaps like people on Lost were trying to figure out WTF was going on in their bizarre world smoke monsters and buttons you have to push), but otherwise, um, nope.  Not seeing it.  One main difference is that things actually happened on Lost.  A second main difference is that the audience was also confused and curious about the mysterious events on Lost.  A third main difference is that the characters in Lost were interesting (if annoying--like Jack and Kate) and we cared about at least some of them (Hurley!!!).  In Authority, there were possibly two facts that were revealed, one about the protagonist's experiences within the organization that employs him to direct the researchers investigating Area X -- this was a great big DUH -- and another about Area X itself -- another DUH that was also kind of strangely vague.  Before that was all kinds of boring things.  Even the parts that were obviously supposed to be suspenseful and surreal and eerie were just...blah.  Whatever.  I really didn't care who put that cell phone there if only for the love of god something would happen!  The characters were not well-developed, and despite having spent a lot of time in our protagonist's head, it wasn't clear what he was thinking or what was motivating him much of the time.  But this book and Lost do have one big thing in common: the ending was confusing and a let-down.  (In the case of Lost, a major let-down.  In the case of Authority, only a minor let-down because, well, the whole book was a let-down so you were hopeful that things would get really good there at the end but you weren't really expecting it.)

There was one funny thing, when one of our protagonist's colleagues made a weak joke that the hole/tunnel into Area X is this many rabbits tall and this many rabbits wide, and that was only funny because I look so favorably on mentions of rabbits and I was so desperate to find something appealing about this book. 

This said, I will push on to read the last book of the trilogy and see if it makes up for how dull this book was.  

Not invested in the Southern Reach trilogy but intrigued by the "strange events in the workplace" concept?  I have read much, much more enjoyable books about people working in bizarre, fucked-up, eerie settings.  May I recommend Kings of Infinite Space by James Hynes (4 stars)?  This is straight-up "it sucks to be working for the Texas Department of General Services in the (Austin-like) city of Lamar, TX, oh shit, now it sucks even MORE" satirical fiction/horror.  By the same author, The Lecturer's Tale (4.5 stars) was a real prize in the skewering academia humor/horror category.  And I cannot pass up this opportunity to plug The Ax by Donald Westlake, a strong 5.5 star powerhouse of dark humor, page after page of it, about the job search.

So that was a second book failure in my opinion.  Let's see if I can do better with a second outfit.  (Yep, I am a master of the subtle transition.)

Day 10: Repeat Item (from the previous day) -- Wednesday, 11/12/14

I make a point of not repeating items from one day to the next, so this was a bit of a stretch for me.  I took the easy route and wore the same plain black pants as the day before.  I kept things simple and low-key with a black/cream/dark green color palette and gold accessories, but I think my outfit was much less boring than the book Authority (even though I wore it in a much less intrigue-imbued office) so I declare victory.  (OK, being more interesting than Authority is a pretty low bar, but whatever.)

Black pants (thrifted)
Cream/black polka dot blazer (thrifted, Target) -- I love the black around the edges and the fact that this is a relatively warm jacket
*Dark green T (Hanes--shortened by me)
Black buckle flats by Me Too [imagine them worn with black socks]
Gold chain link necklace (Ann Taylor)

Verdict: This was comfortable and I felt sharply dressed.  (A crisp blazer will do that to ya.)  I could have stood it had I worn a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath it on this unseasonably wintry day (8 degrees in the morning and up to 22 by 5 p.m.) but I was not quite so chilled as to feel cold at work, just intermittently a little on the cool side.  Wearing this blazer again later in the season, I'll need to wear long sleeves and possibly a scarf.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Oblivion, Begin Again

Part of the reason I got ahead with pre-planning my workweek outfits was so I would have more time on the weekends to play Oblivion.

I saw a couple weeks ago that the game developers had announced the new Elder Scrolls game would come out in March...2016.  Sigh.  Ever since then, I've been jonesing to play another Skyrim-like game, and finally decided, well, for $25 I can buy Oblivion with all the add-ons and give it another shot because I never even finished the main quest line when I first played it (nor did I start the Dark Brotherhood quest line, nor did I have any of the add-ons).  So I started playing Oblivion again the weekend before the snow/ice storm on 11/10.

When the news about the storm and the accompanying cold weather (not expecting temperatures to reach 32 degrees for the next 10 days that Wunderground was willing to forecast), I had to scramble a bit with my outfits (without taking enough time to interfere with my Oblivion playing).  I wasn't sure whether this one would be warm enough as planned, or whether I would need to try layering another shirt underneath.

I am playing a male character for the first time, a Nord.  I know, a Nord would have been more appropriate for Skyrim but I enjoyed playing an outsider character in that game (a mixed-race black woman in a male-dominated Nordic culture).  My Nord character in Oblivion goes by the name Sven (obviously not his real name, but he's got reasons to want to sound anonymous as he makes his way around the capital).  One of the Nord's characteristics is a resistance to cold, so we'll see if I can take on some of this ability in real life this winter through sympathetic magic.  Poor Sven is eventually going to be spending a lot of time in Oblivion (i.e., the pits of hell), which is a place where his cold resistance is not exactly going to be useful unless, you know, hell freezes over. 

Day 11:  Pick an Outfit Formula -- Tuesday, 11/11/14

(Note: I originally typed "Pink an Outfit Formula," which is also an appropriate title, actually.)

As you know, I love the simplicity of patterned blouse with black and a bright color or colors, a cardigan or jacket in one of the colors from the blouse, and black pants and shoes.  So I chose that as my outfit formula to create a new version of for this challenge.

(I added black socks and a black scarf to this to make it a bit more below-freezing-temperatures compatible, but this is the basic concept.)

I'm a bit disappointed that the bright pink in the shirt looks dark coral instead of pink in the photo, but you'll just have to trust me that they matched. Matchy-matchy is pretty much the basis of this formula.

Black/white/coral/pink blouse (Kohls)
Pink drape cardigan (Macy's)
Black pants (thrifted)
Black pointy-toed flats
(Not pictured: Black scarf from Target)

Verdict:  A bright cardigan in fall/winter is cheerful and fun.  I liked it.  Adding a solid colored scarf is a nice way to warm up the formula -- black was a good choice in this case, but other colors could work with other combinations (I have a few solid colored scarves it would be good to put into more regular use).

Thursday, November 13, 2014

What To Wear on the First Snowy Day of the Winter

Thanks to the typhoon and global warming, we got a mix of snow and ice Sunday night through Monday, so I had to pull out a pair of snow boots, some gloves, and the brand new ice scraper/brush/toy light sabre that Robert bought me.  I wish I'd thought to wear a hat and warmer gloves because my car was coated in ice after work, and it took a while to get it all off.  My fingers got pretty cold in the process.  (Also: definitely got some exercise there.)  But hey, when I got in to drive, I turned on the seat warmer and that was nice.  I turned it off after about 3 minutes, but I enjoyed testing it out.  (I also took a heating pad to work because I read on Capitol Hill Style that sitting on a heating pad is a great way to warm up in the office, and from Leopold Rex's experiences sitting on a heating pad when he was sick, I know that a heating pad = warm buns.)

So, when the forecast changed suddenly on Friday, it meant that I had to revisit the outfits I'd already preplanned for the week.  (That's what I get for being so freaking organized, eh?)  Moving this outfit up (that I'd already gotten together for the following week, I know, it's nuts) was easy-peasy.  I wanted something with a couple of layers, with pants, that would be cozy and simple.

Day 14: Pinspired -- Monday, 11/10/14

I have a fairly wimpy Pinterest account, but when I bought my forest green trousers for work (about a year ago), I felt so clueless about color pairings that I pinned a few photos.  One of them was of olive pants instead of forest green, and when I saw it and remembered the olive pants I'd recently thrifted (finally: I am a huge fan of olive pants and I can't believe it took me so long to find any -- I just didn't like that 99% of them available new in stores are skinny ankle pants), it was a no-brainer.

Here's the pinspiration photo:

Note that she's wearing baggy pants, not skinny pants even.  I can do this.

I did not have a big brown belt, or what appear to be brown ankle boots, but I picked up some of the warmness of the brown color in my grey/white/black/coral scarf.  (Note that I also put on a pair of black socks before heading out to work!  I think the days of no-socks are done for the season.)

*White long-sleeved T (Lands End)
*Olive green pants (thrifted, Coldwater Creek)
Black cardigan (Walmart)
Grey/white/coral scarf (Target?)
Black button shoes (thrifted, Franco Sarto)

Verdict:  This was comfy and plenty warm enough in my office (I did not need to sit on a heating pad).  It's a pretty basic outfit, but the key inspiration of the photo was to add a grey/white scarf, which would not have been my natural choice.  I'm looking forward to wearing these olive pants again.  I've already got the main pieces for my next olive pants outfit picked out.  If one of the pairs of brown/cognac/beige booties I've ordered from the Nordstrom sale works out, I'll be doubly happy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Portlandia Style Challenge

I could not resist another personal style challenge, this one inspired by Portlandia:

Put a Bird on It! -- Friday, 11/7/14

(Even if you are totally familiar with the "put a bird on it!" concept, I recommend the link above.  "...If this ushers in an era of otters and deer..." put me in mind of Tam.)

I loved the idea of wearing my bird cardigan (yep, I only own one bird cardigan) with jeans and a mix of other items that draw on the supporting colors of the sweater -- a very light aqua blue, magenta, and mustard, not colors I would normally think of wearing together.

Aqua bird cardigan (Target)
Light aqua blue knit top (thrifted, JCP)
*Trouser jeans (thrifted, JCP)
Magenta scarf (Target)
Mustard flats by Mia Girl

And here's a close up of one of these adorable birds:

It's kind of surprising I don't own about a dozen bird cardigans.  I am definitely in the market for more.  My love of birds is second only to my love of rabbits, and since I'm over the age of 12, it's kind of difficult to incorporate bunnies into my daily work wardrobe without looking whackadoodle.  (I am whackadoodle where rabbits are concerned, but I'd just as soon keep this information private in the workplace.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On a Grey Theme

Book Review:  The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
4 stars

This is not a complete retread of Outlander, though it clearly has several things in common: it's a historical romance with a mix-up of modern day heroine and the Scottish independence movement of the 1700s.  But it does not use the straightforward time travel trope of Diana Gabaldon's novels.  It has a somewhat different SF/fantasy/supernatural thing going to connect the current day to the historical events. If Outlander rang your bells, I think you're likely to enjoy this one, too. 

Day 6: Color, Pattern, Texture, Shine -- Thursday, 11/6/14

Since color is not an area I struggle with, I opted to focus on the other 3 aspects of this prompt and keep everything neutral, using the hue of the winter sea as my starting point.  (Note: I would have frozen my ass off if I'd been visiting the setting of The Winter Sea in this outfit, but fortunately I stayed here in the relatively comfortable Snow City autumn.) [Boy, what a difference a few days make.]

Pattern: grey leopard print
Texture: suede snakeskin booties
Shine: necklace

Another thing to note here: man, grey is a hard color to match!  I think all these shades of grey work nicely together but they certainly do not match.

Also, yep, I've broken down and ordered some more boots for the fall/winter season.  I also topped this with my black moto jacket to wear if/when I got chilly in the office.  (It seems that grey animal print + black moto jacket is a favorite combination of mine.)

It's surprising for me to realize that this outfit doesn't have any thrifted items in it -- that's unusual.

Grey leopard knit top (Kohls)
Grey knit skirt (Target)
Grey leggings (Kohls)
*Grey suede snakeskin booties by Seychelles (Zappos)
Sparkly black necklace (Kohls)

Verdict:  Fun, fun, fun.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Belting It Out

My outfit order got a bit screwed up because I was home sick from work on Tuesday with a migraine and my planned Wednesday outfit was not compatible with the tons of rain we had (suede boots that I have not yet weather proofed -- not gonna do it, wouldn't be prudent).

And as the weather is getting colder and a bit more variable (e.g., switching from "bare feet or lightweight hose with flats are maybe okay" and "socks and boots are necessary" weather), I'm building more flexibility into my outfit planning, so the days are unlikely to get all out of order.  I am enjoying the challenge to build new outfits using items I already own, but don't want it to be an "ack, it's going to be 25 degrees and snowing tomorrow, how do I make this dress work with a different set of warmer items!" mode the night before or, shudder, the morning of.  When that happens, I'll switch to a different pre-planned outfit.

Day 9: Put a Belt on It -- Wednesday, 11/5/14

What gives this week?  We have two days of belts (since wearing a belt is the most obvious "define the waist" technique) and two days of "shine" (more on this to come).  Well, I wasn't going to try to build another waist-defining belted outfit, so I went for something very different but that I also do infrequently if ever: wear a belt with work trousers.

And it was a no-brainer which belt I was going to choose, right?

No, your eyes do not deceive you -- I actually tucked in my shirt.  It's gettin' all crazy up in here, I tell ya.

As an added bonus to my day, when I walked into my (female) department head's office for a group meeting, she told me in about 3 or 4 sentences that she loves my style, I have great fashion sense, she always looks forward to seeing what I'm wearing, etc.  That felt great.  

Melon shift blouse (Nordstrom) -- wow, it looks really neon in this photo!
Black/white striped knit jacket (Nordstrom)
Black on black striped pants (thrifted, JCP)
Leopard belt (Target)
Black pointy-toed flats (Nordstrom)
Black tooth/claw necklace (Outfit Additions)

Verdict:  Tucking in a very lightweight blouse (that doesn't bunch up under the pants) and wearing with a cardigan/jacket and a belted trousers is a doable combination.  I have several of these shift blouses in various colors/patterns, so I could definitely recreate variations on this theme for a while.

Pro tip:  I used trick #13 from this list of styling methods to create the right amount of looseness above the tucked in blouse.  (In addition to the horrible bunching problem that puts me right off the full tuck, I generally have had my shirts tucked too tightly, so that there were weird wrinkles, etc., in the shirt fabric above the waistband.  Not any more!)  The whole list is pretty much brilliant.  I'm definitely going to be trying #6 (tuck non-skinny jeans into boots) this winter.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Definitely Monday

I switched around a couple of the prompts this week so that my footwear would be compatible with the weather (at the time I picked my outfits over the weekend, we were expecting a couple of days of rain during the week).

Day 7: Define the Waist -- Monday, 11/3/14

Can I eke out one last day of bare legs this season?  It's supposed to get up to 59 degrees in the afternoon.  I can wear my long trench coat to protect my legs in the couple minutes I walk from my car to the building.  Hmm...I don't know.  (I ended up wearing nude sheer hose with it, and that worked out just fine.)

I knew this outfit would be the hardest to create, so I attacked it first.  This peplum top seemed like a no-brainer "define the waist" garment, but I needed additional warmth.  If I used a normal cardigan or jacket, it would cover up the waist (which felt like cheating).  I thought about putting another shirt underneath it (it's sleeveless, so I guess it could work as a sort of vest) but I thought that would bunch up weirdly under the elastic at the waist.  Then I remembered: Oh yeah, I bought this bolero style jacket at Goodwill a gazillion years ago but never figured out a way to wear it.  Whew.

Black peplum blouse (Target)
*Black bolero jacket (thrifted, JCP)
Black "Y-dye" knit pencil skirt (Old Navy)
Leopard flats (Nordstrom)
Gold "shelled pea" necklace (Target)
Black woven belt (Target)

Verdict:  I'm surprised by how well this turned out.  Having the right pieces to create the silhouette was key.  I liked the all-black (but textured) outfit with the bright, contrasting necklace and the fun shoes (that kind of bookend the necklace and my hair color while also tying in the black--yay for beige leopard print).  Had the items been different colors, it would have looked too chopped up and messed with the proportions.  This way, it kind of looks like a dress of many parts instead.  A sort of puffy dress, but a dress, not a bunch of clothes that got whipped up by a fierce wind and landed upon my body.

And it was a good outfit for sitting all day at my desk working on SPSS syntax and developing report templates in Excel for our new quarterly reports.  I really liked not having any meetings!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Halloween Challenge

Day 5:  Add a Hat or Scarf (on Your Head) -- 10/31/14

Even though Halloween would actually have been a great opportunity to pull my Tyrolean hat out of storage and wear it to work, I totally didn't think of doing that.  (All hats other than my baseball caps and keep-head-warm-in-endless-winter hats are in a box in our Harry Potter storage room under the stairs because we don't have enough closet space for everything, so it's an out of sight, out of mind situation here.)

As far wearing a scarf on my head...uh, no.  There are numerous women at work who wear headscarves for cultural reasons, and I am just not going to be that clueless white woman in a costume on Halloween that is an act of cultural appropriation. Even if I don't mean it as a costume or an act of appropriation...well, it's on me to not be an ass in this way.  I just don't think I'm going to wear a head scarf to my job ever.  (A scarf around the neck is just right for me.)

(Note: Wearing a traditional German hat is something I would totally feel comfortable with, given that I actually have German heritage and Germans are not exactly a marginalized group in our culture.)

So I substituted my own Day 5 challenge.

Personal Challenge: Wear Halloween Colors

October 31 is pretty much the only day you can wear black and orange together, straight up, and not look totally ridiculous.  (You might look kinda ridiculous but 1. it's Halloween, so kinda ridiculous is appropriate and 2. you look kinda ridiculous in a festive way, which is fun and 3. the holiday color combination is clearly intentional and that helps a lot.)  And I had just won the Goodwill jeans jackpot the previous weekend (seriously, I found like 6 pairs of jeans that all looked great so I had to narrow it down to my favorites because I do not need 6 more pairs of jeans, even after I had donated about 4 pairs of jeans the same day) and bought a pair of very nice, hardly-worn, deep black jeans that were perfect for a casual Friday that was also Halloween.

Black t-shirt (Walmart)
Orange cardigan (thrifted, Eddie Bauer)
*Black bootcut jeans (thrifted, NYDJ)
Black ankle boots (old)
Lion charm necklace (thrifted)

Verdict:  I finally broke the jeans psychological barrier at work!  I don't plan on wearing jeans all the time to work, but I think I will add "nice jeans" to my Friday options.  So far, my "nice jeans" collection consists of these black jeans and a pair of blue trouser jeans I bought at the same time (which I will debut next Friday).  I might want to add a pair of skinny jeans to my wardrobe to wear with tall boots, but these two pairs are plenty to be getting on with.  As for this specific outfit, I will probably never wear it again, but I enjoyed it as a comfy festive Halloween outfit that was not a costume.  (I actually did not see anyone at my workplace in a full costume, though one woman in my department wore an orange Halloween-themed sweatshirt/sweater with black jeans and I saw a couple of people in cat-ear headbands and the like.)

Challenging to Stay Awake

Day 4: Mix Color Families -- 10/30/14

There were a lot of ways to approach this, but I decided to go with grey plus a jewel tone. 

I normally would have been like, oh man, I don't have a grey tank to wear underneath this sweater from Target with the insanely tight sleeves so I guess I will find a different cardigan.  And I did think that, but circled back to the "mix color" idea and decided I would use multiple neutrals in the outfit and bring this previously-unworn black top into play.  It worked well with the black-toed leopard shoes anyway.  I had a lot of necklace choices but thought the bluish-grey of this necklace would be a subtle way to bring another neutral into the mix.

I was so, so tired this week that the outfit challenge was definitely eclipsed by the staying awake at work challenge.  I think I had caffeinated tea 2 (maybe 3!) times at work this week.  (My rule is that I can have one caffeinated teabag worth of iced tea in the morning but I cannot do it on consecutive days.  I think I average around 1/2 to 1 caffeinated teabag per week but there is a lot of variation around that mean.)

*Black lace-edged tank top (thrifted, Kohls)
*Burgundy cardigan (Target)
Grey pants (Kohls)
Grey leopard wedges by Cole Haan
Hematite/silver necklace by RB

Verdict:  Tank + cardigan is a great combination for fall.  I need to remember that until True Snow City Winter is upon us, this is a good alternative to wearing a long-sleeved shirt or a lightweight sweater on its own.  I liked the neutral mix and was glad to wear the cardigan that I had been giving the evil eye for months (and had wondered WTF I was thinking when I bought it).  I realized that I do not own any grey tops -- no tanks, t-shirts, blouses, button-up shirts, nothing.  Wearing black worked well, but this is not the first, second, or third time I've wanted to grab a grey top.  I think I should start a list with these potential wardrobe holes.  I'll do it right now, in fact.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Not a Celebrity Watcher

Day 3: Copy a Celeb -- Wednesday, 10/29/14

OK, I've gotta say, this one was really hard for me to do.  I really don't pay any attention to celebrities--I don't read those kinds of magazines, watch those kinds of TV shows, any of it.  I don't have a sense of any celebrities and what they wear except as shows up on some of the blogs I read...which is where I turned in desperation when I got this prompt. 

The Outfit Posts blog always shows an inspiration photo with every outfit, so I went there and worked back through the archives until I found a celebrity outfit that was work compatible, weather compatible, and consisted of items I have (reasonable substitutes for) in my closet.  I settled on this post from 9/24/14 with a photo of Jessica Alba in black pants, black polka dot blouse, and pink jacket.

And here is my version with standard flat-front regular length trousers instead of pleated cuffed crop pants (uh, no...even Jessica Alba is barely pulling that off with her long thin legs and high heels), a more colorfully dotted black shirt (that I shortened to be a more useful length than its original almost crotch length--Target, what are you thinking with these really long shirts?--anyway, yay for doing clothing alterations), and a magenta blazer in an entirely different shape.

Black/pink/white knit top (thrifted, Target--newly shortened)
*Magenta 3/4 length sleeve knit jacket (thrifted, Ann Taylor)
Black-on-black striped pants (thrifted, JCP)
Black pointy-toed flats (Nordstrom)
Gold chain link necklace (Ann Taylor)

Verdict:  I loved this outfit!  It was comfy and felt pretty polished and snazzy.  I don't think I ever would have put these items together without the Jessica Alba outfit inspiration photo.  (And bonus, I pulled out a jacket that I've had for a little while but hadn't gotten around to wearing until I was specifically on the search for a pink jacket to match the photo.)

This makes me think that using celebrity outfit inspiration photos is a good idea, especially since the Outfit Posts blog is doing all the work of curating the photos, selecting inspirations that are relevant to normal women with normal jobs.  I like that she shows both the inspiration photo and her own outfit photo because that's really two inspirations in one.  Of course, there are a lot of blogger (not celebrity) outfit posts I could use as inspiration as well.  I'm thinking it would be fun, after this 31 day challenge is over, to create my own blogger challenge, where I use outfit posts from bloggers I follow to inspire a series of my own outfits.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

In Cuffs

Book Review:  The Likeness by Tana French

5 stars

Another excellent mystery in the Dublin Murder Squad series.  I liked this one a bit more more than I did The Secret Place.  An undercover cop turned murder detective turned domestic violence detective gets back into the undercover game by taking the place of a dead doctoral student who happens to look exactly like her.  (The student is found dead in circumstances that allow the cops to pass her off as having been attacked, abandoned, found in a coma, watched in a coma for a while in the hospital--giving the cop time to prep for the gig--before waking up, recovering of her wounds, and returning to her regular life.)  Among other things, she discovers that the lifestyle of an English PhD student who is past her courses/quals and whose advisor is reluctant to push for any progress on the dissertation after her near death experience is much, much easier than that of a domestic violence cop.  Harder is keeping up the pretense under the watchful eyes of her four housemates/fellow grad students/de facto family, one of whom just might be the killer.  Will she get someone in cuffs by the end of the book?

Day 2: Add a Cuff -- Tuesday, 10/28/14

I have a lot of shirts I could cuff, but I decided this was the perfect opportunity to debut a pullover sweater I bought recently at Goodwill.  Because I was interested in a few roomy sweaters I could easily layer shirts under, I checked out the men's sweater selection as well.  This cream pullover was a nice find--a useful color, a collar unlike any of my other sweaters.  I visualized it with jeans for the weekend but put it into an outfit for work here.

The sizing on this thing is insane.  It is a Men's Large Tall.  But it's more like a medium around the body and it is not very long at all, shorter than most men's sweaters, I think.  However, the sleeves are crazy long.  It is hard to imagine any human for whom this combination of dimensions is right, though perhaps a chimpanzee or other monkey-type critter would love it.

Anyway, thus: the cuffing of the sleeves.  (I have a sorta wonky photo trim job here because I wanted to show off both cuffs.)

*Cream pullover sweater (thrifted, Field Gear--men's)
Brown pinstriped pants (thrifted, Chaps)
Gold pointy-toed flats (Nordstrom)

Verdict:  It felt a bit odd to wear an outfit without a scarf or a necklace.  I would wear this again, though I think I would wear my brown flats and would wait for a day it's cool enough that I would want a scarf with it, too.  It occurs to me that my selection of scarves with brown in them truly suck.  Something to keep in mind.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

31 Days, 31 Ways

I decided to up my game by participating in the 31 Days, 31 Ways style challenge that I saw linked to approximately everywhere on the Internet.  If you don't read this kind of blogs, you may not be aware but this is a thing.  The idea is that it pushes you to mix items together that you already own to create new outfits without having to shop.  People at more advanced levels will even pick a certain number of clothing items (e.g., 20 or 30 items) and attempt to make a bunch of outfits out of that limited set.  (This is a related concept to that of the wardrobe capsule, in which you pick a set of items that can all be mixed and matched together.)

But I'm playing this game on the beginner level, so I'm using my entire wardrobe for the challenge.  After all, part of my challenge is to wear the new items I haven't worn yet.  (I also only over-buy for my closet space, not my budget, so that's less of a concern for me.)

This remix challenge is a bit different from many (most) because instead of just coming up with X new outfits from your items, you are given a prompt to guide each day's outfit.  These prompts put extra difficulty into the game because some of them might be a reach for you, encouraging you to put outfits together in ways you aren't used to.

Day 1: Pairing Print and Color -- Monday, 10/27/14

This is a mega-easy one for me because print + color is a very common approach for my outfits.  I took advantage of the warmer weather (high of 65) to wear a new short-sleeve cardigan that I could not resist buying at Goodwill even though it's not quite seasonally appropriate.

I read somewhere recently that it's a good idea to strive to wear your clothes enough to get down to a $1 cost per wear.  So I would only need to wear this cardigan four more times to get there.  I've already got this striped skirt down to $1.25 per wear after two days!

*Black t-shirt (Target) -- this t-shirt has been too long for a lot of situations, but it's perfect with this pencil skirt that is loose in the waist so I wear it down lower on the hips (bonus: the skirt's knee length this way, a common theme of mine).
Black/white striped knit pencil skirt (thrifted, Target)
*Aqua short-sleeved cardigan (thrifted, Loft)
Black LifeStrider flats
Aqua/red necklace (Target)

Verdict:  I was very pleased with how this outfit turned out.  I'm glad I decided to keep the aqua/red necklace because it really adds a nice pop to my many aqua and/or red outfits.  Best of all, I think the t-shirt and skirt create a base I could use over and over again with different cardigans (of which I have, well, a lot), necklaces/scarves, and shoes/boots/tights to make a ton of new outfits.  So even though this prompt didn't get me to do something I don't already do (mix print and color), it helped me find a specific shirt/skirt combination that seems pretty much endlessly wearable.  If I add this combination to the way I wore the skirt before (with a black cardigan and a colored t-shirt--and I have a lot of colored t-shirts), I'll get the cost per wear down to pennies.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Finishing Up the Week

Black and White and Pink All Over -- Thursday, 10/23/14

I just love that color combination.  And pencil skirts.  With bare legs.  As evidenced below.

*Black/white knit top (Target)
Pink pencil skirt (JCP)
Black jersey cardigan (thrifted)
Black point-toed flats (Nordstrom)
Pink "floral" necklace (Target)

Comfier Than Pajamas -- Friday, 10/24/14

Seriously, a skirt, top, and cardigan all made from soft knit material can be comfier than pajamas.

I bought this skirt in a big order of knit pencil skirts from Old Navy, and this was the only one I kept.  The ridiculous and unacceptable variation in Old Navy's clothing sizing/shaping continues to drive me crazy.  But I'm still glad that I found this skirt.

One thing that's weird about it is the waistband.  It has a thick band of elastic that the skirt material is sewn onto (it's not elastic encased in fabric, just elastic) that is supposed to then fold down underneath the top of the skirt so that it doesn't show.  Does that make sense?  The waist is supposed to be two layers -- the elastic that folded down behind, and the knit fabric on the front (on the other side of the fold).  But there is nothing to keep the elastic folded down behind the fabric properly so it slides and bulges oddly.  Fortunately, it was easy-peasy to just unroll the skirt so the elastic is at the top with the fabric sewn on below it, cut out the tag in the back that is now sticking up over the edge of the elastic, and wear it that way.  It's more comfortable, more stable, and gives the skirt that extra 1.5" or so in length that makes it perfect.

*Black knit peasant top (thrifted, Banana Republic)
*Black "Y-dye" knit pencil skirt (Old Navy)
Cream jersey cardigan (Kohls)
Captoe nude flats by Clarks
Black/white floral necklace (Kohls)

Monday, November 3, 2014

I Forget

Book Review: Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson

4 stars

Ironically, I don't remember this book very well.  The setup is that the protagonist has a particularly (weird) kind of amnesia: she has lost her memory of her life since her early 20s (though on bad days, she forgets everything past childhood) and wakes up every day expecting to be very much younger and in a different place in her life.  Every morning, she, with the help of her husband Ben (who is a total stranger to her), figures out that she's married, middle-aged, and an amnesiac.  During the day, her memory functions like normal (this is not like other books/movies in which characters are unable to create new memories and thus live their days in confusing 30-second chunks or whatever), but something about sleeping at night resets her memory again.  Fortunately, she's keeping a (secret) diary, which gives her (and us) information about her recent past.  The book is marketed as a psychological thriller, but I found it much more psychological than I did thriller.  However, that worked for me.

What to Wear to the Most Awkward Work Meeting of Your Life -- Wednesday, 10/22/14

My group met with some people from the technology department, including their top dog, about a big project that the two groups are working on and it was super awkward.  Up until this point, I'd been sort of astonished by how nice, professional, collaborative, etc. everyone I'd met at my workplace is -- how can everybody be so easy to work with?  Then I met the boss of the technology department and it was immediately like, Oh, OK, this guy is a jerk.  A particular kind of calm, rational-seeming, manipulative jerk.  There's a lot I could say about it, but I will just make two observations:

(1)  It was one of the most blatant "yep, I'm obviously operating from a position of male leadership privilege and so you [our department head, who is a woman] are just fucked in this situation" displays I've seen in real life.  For example, he could make totally rude statements, in his calm, matter-of-fact way, and she could not respond with any kind of appropriate annoyance, anger, etc., without seeming like an "emotional female."  And if she were to make any kind of similar comments, she would be at risk of moving into the "bitch" category.  (One of the stylized facts of organizational behavior research on leadership is that men can be successful if they are seen as competent, but women have to be both competent and nice.)

(2)  When there is nobody in the technology department who knows XML, he describes this as "We don't support that."  When there are only a few people in our department who know SQL, he describes this as "Your people do not have the basic skill set they need to have" and says that her people are too deficient in technical skills for his people to be expected to talk to us or explain anything to us.

Blue tie-neck shirt (Lands End)
Navy pants (Dockers)
Blue pointy-toed flats (Nordstrom)
Blue sparkle necklace (Kohls)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Could Not Get Comfortable

Abandoned Book: Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood

I couldn't get into Oryx and Crake (the first of the MaddAddams series), despite its excellent reviews, and so have not read Atwood's recent books.  But I decided to give this book of short stories a try.  Well....couldn't get into it either.  I actually read the first 2 stories (the first didn't really go anywhere, the second one the main character was annoying), half of the third story (both characters were annoying and boring), skipped the fourth story because the physical description of the girl creeped me out, and read the fifth story (better, but it also really didn't go anywhere).  At that point, I just decided, meh, what's the point.

I cannot deny that Atwood's sentences were excellent, and she did limn characters that were distinctive (if unpleasant and uninteresting).  But I was unsatisfied with how the stories just ended, leaving you like, Um, okay.

The Last Target Necklace -- Tuesday, 10/21/14

This button up blouse has a very clever fix for the common gaping-at-the-bust problem: the center where the buttons and buttonholes are has been sewn down.  I like how this necklace encouraged me to wear red shoes with the outfit, which I would not have otherwise done -- I liked the effect.

*Turquoise animal print blouse (thrifted, Express)
*Black pants (thrifted)
Red buckle flats by Me Too
*Turquoise/red necklace (Target)

I didn't like the necklace when I first saw it, but it looks better on.  After wearing it for a day, it really grew on me.  (Luckily, not literally.  You know, Margaret Atwood could write some top-notch pages of writing based on this premise, but I don't think that story would go anywhere either.)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Unexpectedly Great SF Novel

Book Review: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

4.5 stars

This quiet, unassuming little post-apocalyptic novel packs an amazing punch.  The backstory structure is handled brilliantly and the threads of the narrative come together in a very emotionally satisfying way.  I want to read the Dr. Eleven series of comics (even if there are only two issues).  I love that a group in the book takes their motto from an episode of Star Trek: Voyager and that the set-up of Justin Cronin's excellent The Passage is described by one character to another.  (You have read The Passage trilogy right?  That was a series that was good all the way to the end.)  But this isn't a book that tends to be funny or something you immediately want to start reading half of to people who are trying to play a computer game at the time (I mean, you know, theoretically a person could want to do that).  It's something that builds slowly and sucks you in.

One thing to be aware of going in is that it is not a semi- (pseudo-) realistic portrayal of how a segment of humanity survives a modern-day plague and the collapse of civilization.  There is no loving three page description of how somebody builds a crossbow, MacGyver-style, out of random metal scraps, etc.  It's more a story about relationships at the end of the world.

Read this book!

Starting a Long Week of Meetings -- Monday, 10/20/14

What a tiring week that was.  It's nice that I went into work on Monday oblivious to the mild tribulations to come...and wearing a spiffy necklace/scarf combo.

*Textured white button up shirt (thrifted, Foxcroft--I haven't owned this brand before but I've heard good things about the fit of their shirts, and here is a very similar style for $88)
Green trousers (Kohls)
*Black/blue/white/brown silk scarf (thrifted, Adrienne Vittadini)
White/black necklace (gift from Mom)
Black button suede shoes (thrifted, Franco Sarto)

(I feel a little silly because I took this picture before deciding to put a camisole under the shirt.  Duh, white shirt means: needs camisole.  Awkward.  At least I remembered before going to work!)