Sunday, May 29, 2016

Long Sick Weekend

I have been quite sick since Thursday evening.  I hope I don't spend the entire long weekend moving slowly and with great reluctance between my bed and my recliner.  This morning I don't seem to have a fever, which is a start.

Yesterday my stomach had improved to the point I could wear real clothes and not yoga pants.

"Cheshire Takes a Hike"--Saturday, 5/28/16

Let me be clear:  There is no mixing of dressy and casual in my outfit.  It's ALL casual.  There is nothing daring about it.  But I will take anything for inspiration to wear my Cheshire striped polo!  Anyway, where the Cheshire Cat is concerned, nothing is exactly safe, you know?


I'm so glad I bought this hiking skirt for our Yellowstone/Glacier trip.  It's comfortable and just a little more visually interesting than your typical plain black casual skirt.  These plaid sneakers are among the oldest things in my wardrobe.  They started out pre-distressed for my convenience and have become increasingly authentic over the years.  I kind of like that they are not in line with the current pristine white sneaker sporty-chic aesthetic.

Black cargo skirt with peplum hem (Royal Robbins/REI), $2.78/wear
Blue denim jacket (Liz Claiborne/JCP), $6.46/wear
Pink Cheshire striped polo (thrifted, JCP), $0.22/wear
Brown plaid sneakers by Rocket Dog

Outfit total: $9.46/wear

What do you make of this plant (photographed at a nearby state park)?  It looks like some kind of seed pods on the tips.  For once I don't even have an Elder Scrolls plant to reference, though it most resembles something from inside an Oblivion gate to me.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Teal and Golden Gophers

Have fun parsing that blog post title!

"Aqua Ruffles Like Waves in the Sea"--Thursday, 5/26/16

When I bought a short-sleeved aqua top during the Goodwill gift card trip (to replace one that I purged after deciding it was too short for many purposes), that made it possible for me to finally put together this extremely pleasing color combination. 


This inspiration is an August 2012 edition of "Outfits on a Teacher's Budget," so it's even more appropriate that I am incorporating a Goodwill shirt and a cardigan I got free from my mom as a hand-me-down.

OK, the shoes are not really "teacher's budget" shoes.  If I'd been creating this outfit with a lower price point in mind, I would have worn the grey leopard flats I bought from 6pm for about $14.  But yay, I'm not a teacher, and yay, I already bought these fancy shoes so it costs me absolutely NOTHING to wear them!

Grey V neck cardigan (Kohls/Mom)
Dark teal skirt (JCP), $1.81/wear
*Aqua ruffle neck knit top (thrifted, JCP), $4.49/wear
Grey leopard wedges by Cole Haan, $9.43/wear

Outfit total: $15.73/wear

This dark teal skirt is another MVP skirt from the Work the Wardrobe Challenge with 6 wears.

It's very hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that I now live in a place where ducks hang out in the summer.  This was the first blue-winged teal I've seen in some time.

In other news...I don't see how the Golden Gophers wrestling coach will keep his job after it's been discovered that he handled it "internally" when he learned that several team members were selling Xanax to fellow team-mates and other students from a dorm on campus.  The article reports him as saying to the team, "If you have any pills, bring them to my office and I’ll dispose of them, and I’ll give you amnesty."  The article also says that he "ordered suspected users to undergo mandatory urine testing and had them write a one-page essay."  (Yep, because writing a 1-page essay is a proven drug addiction recovery technique!)

One of the wrestlers on the team went the police.  It's pretty sad when a college kid has more sense and integrity than his coach in this sort of situation, but I guess the wrestler didn't have the same vested interest to protect.  As for the university, would the administration have been fine with the coach continuing to cover up and fundamentally not deal with felonies being committed (dealers) and reckless behavior being conducted (abusers) by his players?  If that one wrestler hadn't spoken to the press, would there have been a further cover up?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Floral Finch

"Poor Man's Twin Set"--Wednesday, 5/25/16

I enjoyed this combination of grey pants and matching pastel top and cardigan from last spring's Create28 pastel style challenge.  It reminds me of how my mom often wears pastel tops and cardigans of similar colors together.


I took this opportunity to debut two items I purchased using my Goodwill gift card--a light green top and light green cardigan.  Yeah, they aren't quite the same shade (nobody will mistake it for a twin set) but I figure they go well enough together.

*Light green short-sleeved T (thrifted, Walmart), $2.50/wear
*Light green cardigan (thrifted, Jeanne Pierre), $3.50/wear
Dark grey wide leg trousers (thrifted, Lane Bryant), $0.56/wear
Grey ribbon flats by Louise et Cie, $4.17/wear
Orange/green floral scarf (Target), $4.00/wear

Outfit total: $14.73/wear

And when in doubt, a vibrant patterned scarf with a third shade of green can make the mixed-hues action look intentional or distract the eye.  Either way.

I don't have any flower photos for you today, but how about a couple of house finches (with a male who looks like he could land on my scarf and totally blend in)?

I like how the female finch looks like she's saying with some exasperation, Harold, I've told you this a hundred times!  And the male finch is like, Huh?

He's really wondering, Who's Harold?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Springtime Cliches + Sugar Data

"Omne Trium Perfectum"--Tuesday, 5/24/16

Stripes + floral + bright pink = be still my heart.  I absolutely adore how this turned out on Andi last spring (even if she did have to do some last minute substitutions, one pregnancy-related).


I used this outfit as inspiration for wearing my new uber-spring-y cardigan.  I mean, the lightweight fabric, light mint-aqua color, the 3/4 length sleeves?  It's made for this.

Navy top with light blue/mint stripes (Target), $2.33/wear
Navy paisley skirt (thrifted, Target), $0.75/wear
*Mint-aqua 3/4 sleeve cardigan (thrifted, Studio Works), $5.24/wear
Gold flats (Nordstrom), $2.38/wear
Gold/clear ruffled collar necklace (Target), $2.50/wear

Outfit total: $13.20/wear

I'm glad it's gold flats season because that makes it easy to follow what I like to call the Golden Rule of Three:  gold shoes, gold necklace, gold hair.  Boom.

This week I'll continue posting some bird photos from our wildlife refuge visit.  Here is a very uncooperative tree swallow.  As soon as I got this quick snapshot taken, he took off from his perch, started chasing a lady, and quickly mated with her in a tree.  He definitely does not have his priorities straight!

In other news...Tam sent this article about the new food nutrition labels, which look like a very nice improvement over the current ones, though I agree that the "added sugars" should be reported in teaspoons (a measure that Americans understand) rather than only grams (a measure that we don't).

I doubt this is going to have a wide impact on obesity rates and all those wonderful Big Good Outcomes that people are hoping for, but I am completely in favor of companies having to disclose what is in their products so that people who wish to do so can make informed choices.  The expectation that many people will not base their decisions on the nutrition information is not a good reason for the information not to be available to those who do care.

I do think it's interesting that the sugar industry is virulently opposed to the new sugar labeling.  If people's purchases aren't affected by the labels, why do they care so much?  Not every player in the food industry opposes it, so I can't believe it's just because it's somehow unreasonably costly for companies to collect the data that goes on the labels, you know?

Of course, we could be wrong about the idea that added sugars are bad for you.  (God knows American nutrition researchers have made being wrong their life's work, pretty much--see the whole "fats are bad" movement, for example.)  My mom likens these things to the following dialog from Woody Allen's Sleepers:

Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or... hot fudge?
Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.

Until then, I am glad to know about the added sugar content of the foods I buy.  I still remember when I found out how much sugar was in the sandwich bread from Panera--ye gods!  I've never eaten a Panera sandwich since then.  (I have no idea whether they've reformulated their bread to be less sugar-laden than it was 10 years ago.)

Do you read nutrition labels?  Do you make decisions on the basis of the information?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Yet More May Flowers

"Condemned Barbie"--Monday, 5/23/16

You know I can't get enough of stripes + floral print.  I liked this sassy yellow combo from a short post about pattern mixing.  Rule #3--"Use your imagination."


I don't have any yellow pants or skirt, so I used my imagination and substituted a bright pink skirt and pink floral top.  I think the result has much the same effect as the original only more Barbie and less sunshiny.  (And pink works better with my uber-pale skin tone, too.)

Black and pink floral blouse (212/Kohls), $5.00/wear
Black and white striped knit blazer (Nordstrom), $5.90/wear
Bright pink skirt (JCP), $1.64/wear
Black pointy toed-flats (Nordstrom), $2.17/wear

Outfit total: $14.71/wear

I was amused to read that back in the day, stripes on clothing were reserved for "prisoners, clowns, prostitutes, hangmen, and all the condemned."  In this outfit I am pattern mixing awesomeness!

These are some flowers I photographed a couple weeks ago at the wildlife refuge.

In other news...After a sort of rough weekend, it was not fun to wake up with a headache again (still?) today, but I had a project to finish this morning that meant calling in sick was a non-option.  So caffeinated iced tea (the magickal elixir) to the rescue!  I had a productive day but was very glad when it was time to come home.  One of the things that sucks a lot about my recent spate of headaches is that I really can't exercise at all when I have one.  Even slight exertion causes exaggerated head-pounding feelings of doom.  I thought I was going to black out at one point this weekend after having the audacity to put a load of laundry into the washer--bending down and standing up straight again is not a happy thing for me at the best of times, but with a headache, it can mean a period of head-splitting pain accompanied by faintness.  Everybody's idea of a good time, no?

I have a feeling it's going to a headache-prone week because we have rain expected more days than not (and rain usually = headaches).  But maybe the rain will keep the pollen down?  I don't know.  I am holding out hopes that the upcoming 3 day weekend (!) will compensate in some way for my recent headache-so-not-much-fun experiences.

But on a much more positive note:  My school friend L.--who is probably my oldest friend in the sense that we were best friends in elementary school--has been in the ICU for a couple of weeks now with a life-threatening systemic infection.  But she is no longer in a coma! 

I have had the old Smiths song "Girlfriend in a Coma" stuck in my head, and it's been frustrating that I haven't been able to tell L. how funny and irritating that is because she is the one person I know who would really get it.  (Our friendship has been very strongly marked by our shared interest in music--watching MTV, visiting music stores, going to clubs and concerts, exchanging mix tapes, and all that.)  Have you checked in with mid-80s era Morrissey lately?  Back in the day, I just thought he was an adult.  Now, it's like, Holy Hell, he is a kid!  (OK, he is a very youthful looking 28 in that video.  Still.)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Neverending Headache

"Lapin Poisson Distribution"--Sunday, 5/22/16

I liked the combination of bright pink + patterned top + gold necklace + jeans + shiny flats because it is easy to see how to use my French rabbit top in a similar look.


In this case, I put my beloved lapin with a bright pink cardigan vest for a little French boho action.  And if you were concerned this wasn't silly enough on its own, I added a fish charm necklace to ensure it meets the standard for weekend eccentricity.

French bunny top (Macy's), $0.98/wear
Bright pink open weave cardigan vest (Kohls), $5.52/wear
Bootcut jeans (thrifted, Target), $0.19/wear
Gold fish charm necklace (Ann Taylor), $4.34/wear
Black/blue sparkly flats (thrifted, Target), $2.62/wear

Outfit total: $13.65/wear

And even though I'm extremely wary of Target shoes, I could not resist these sparkly flats at Goodwill.  So far, I'm not regretting the decision.

No heels were destroyed in the making of this photograph.

This distribution is almost embarrassing to share because of what it communicates about the number of tops I own.  Oh well, it is what it is...and it is showing that I wore 54% of my tops only once and another 21% twice during the Work the Wardrobe Challenge.  (It's also a degraded image in the sense of the most recent xkcd comic.)

But if you look carefully, you'll see that there are a few tops that got relatively a lot of wear (worn 5 or more times during the year).  I think it will come as no surprise to you that my lapin top was one of them.  Indeed, this was my MVP of the shirts category, worn 7 times. 

In other news...It hasn't been a very good weekend.  I have had a headache since Friday evening and while it hasn't been stick-my-head-under-a-pillow-or-die levels of pain, it's been consistently very unpleasant with occasional forays into dire.  It was a beautiful weekend for birding but given that the very high level of tree pollen we're having is a major contributor to my headache, the idea of going outside--let along going outside and then looking through binoculars (shudder)--was a non-starter.

Last night I was feeling so bad that all I could do was sit still in a dark room and watch Downton Abbey, which apparently puts my body into a state that the Fitbit cannot distinguish from sleeping.  This morning, I had to manually adjust it to "no, I went to bed at 10:30, not at 8:07."

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Matrix, Wardrobe Version

Dressing Like a Tan Rabbit--Saturday, 5/21/16

Finally, the return of the rabbit dress!  This time worn with a denim jacket, as shown by these lovely bloggers.

#1--Andi shows us a denim jacket with a beige/black patterned dress.


#2--Kate shows us a denim jacket with a patterned dress featuring her favorite animal, bears.


So clearly the denim jacket + beige/black patterned dress featuring my favorite animal must happen!  My blue denim jacket is a really dark wash, so I decided to try it with my black denim jacket instead.  Works for me!

Beige/black rabbit dress (eShakti), $8.75/wear
Black denim jacket (JNY), $2.66/wear
Tan captoe flats by Clarks, $3.33/wear
Art Deco silk scarf (thrifted), $3.50/wear

Outfit total: $18.24/wear

Isn't this outfit a bit reminiscent of a tan rabbit?

In other news...Because even on the weekends I cannot resist the allure of Excel, I've spent the day working on an outfit generation matrix and using it to plan future outfits.  Sometimes my geekiness in this area surprises even myself.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Friday Monitoring

"Floral Colorblock"--Friday, 5/20/16

I like my light blue/black/white colorblock jacket, but it's not the most versatile item to style.

I was inspired by this combination of blue cardigan and black textured dress to try it with my black space dye skirt.


It's a good combination.

Light blue colorblock jacket (JNY), $7.42/wear
Black space dye skirt (Old Navy), $1.67/wear
Black silk shell (JNY), $7.50/wear
Medium blue flats by Sofft, $5.38/wear
*White/blue/yellow floral scarf (Target), $12.00/wear

Outfit total: $33.97/wear

I hadn't tried wearing the jacket with a scarf before, so I gave that a shot too.  I think it worked just fine.  I really like this scarf that I got from the Easter Bunny.  He has such good taste!

To continue with the white floral theme, here is another flowering bush/tree we saw at the state park recently.  Any ideas what these flowers are?

In other news...The highlight of my day was getting my second computer monitor at work set up!  I now have two large monitors side-by-side (set to extended mode so it's like a single gigantically wide monitor) and I'm already ecstatic about it.  The monitor came yesterday afternoon, and I asked our admin, So, do I put in a ticket with IT to get it installed? and she was like, Well... and she shrugged.  After about 15 minutes of looking at the cords, etc., with my office mate, I put in a ticket to our technology help desk.  This morning, the tech for our building came by and set it up in about 3 minutes.  So hurray for second monitors and hurray for leaving things to the professionals!  I seriously do not understand how I got by with one monitor all this time--with a lot of stupid resizing of windows and flipping back and forth and general nonsense, I guess.

The reason I got this second monitor at all was that my office mate has two (including one she almost never uses) and when she was talking about how she doesn't like the extended display mode, I was like, OMG, I have two monitors at home and I love it!  Later, when our department head came by to check in on our computer needs (for thinking about next year's budget), my office mate said, Sally needs a second monitor.  And our department head was like, Oh, you don't already have one! and she had the admin order me one on the spot.  So hurray for office mates that speak up for your needs for you, too!

This morning, before the monitor was set up, I had it lying facedown on my desk (my mechanical skills being precisely calibrated to allow me to attach the flat monitor to the monitor stand but nothing more).  A colleague came by to ask me something, and when he saw it, he said, What did that monitor do to you?  When I explained that it was new and I was waiting for IT to come hook it up, he kind of boggled, like how have I possibly been doing my job with only one monitor all this time?  I know, J., I know--it's hard to understand.

Now I'm all: Double the monitors, double the kick-ass!

It's all a far cry from my childhood, writing Basic programs on a TI 99-4A hooked up to a small black and white television set.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Little Sparrow

"Pink Piaf"--Thursday, 5/19/16

I liked the bright pink + polka dots idea here but decided to do something a little different from a black polka dot top...


...especially since I have a new black pullover sweater to wear (part of my end-of-February, using-the-$100-gift-card Goodwill spree).  I replaced my wool one with a cotton one because--well, because that's what they had is the real reason, but I'm happy enough that my new one will be workable outside of the winter season.  And it's a bit over-sized so it will be easy to layer underneath it during the winter season.  A win-win.  Oh, and it's machine washable so I won't ruin it in the laundry after only a couple wears, I hope!

*Black pullover sweater (thrifted, Macy's), $4.49/wear
Bright pink skirt (JCP), $1.81/wear
Pink silk birds scarf (Nordstrom), $6.00/wear
Black pointy-toed flats (Nordstrom), $2.27/wear

Outfit total: $14.57/wear

I incorporated the polka dots by wearing this sparrow-printed scarf with polka dots along the edge, worn in that style that always says "mais oui" (which is infuriating because I don't speak French).  You know, I have seen (and own) quite a lot of bird prints, but sparrows are a very unusual one.  They're pretty dull little things by bird standards, so I get it that designers aren't all like, Well, we could do peacocks or stylized bluebirds or parrots...nah, let's do sparrows!  But I'm pleased by the sparrows on this scarf, and I enjoy the fact that this is a context where sparrows of all things seem rare.

Here's a photo of some (female) house sparrows for your consideration.  So yeah, the sparrows on the scarf, with their bright yellow fronts and black heads, are kind of jazzy when compared to other LBJs ("little brown jobs").

Making up in attitude what she lacks in coloration, probably scoffing at my pink because bright colors are for boys.

In other news...Investigating the French word for sparrow (moineau), I discovered that French singer Edith Piaf's original last name was Gassion, but she later received the nickname La Mome Piaf ("The Little Sparrow"), by which she is well-known in France.  Apparently piaf is a slang term for a sparrow or other small nondescript bird.

Have you seen the fantastic under-4-minute animated short "The Present"?  Check it out

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Major Migraine + Flowers

I woke up this morning with a massive headache--a two-for-one sinus headache + migraine.  The kind where going to work is not even an option.  UGH.  After I took a long shower (hoping that the steam would help), I was feeling perplexed about getting dressed.  One of the downsides of a migraine is that I'm operating at a low level of cognitive power and figuring things out becomes very challenging.  I knew I didn't want to wear my planned work outfit today but had no capacity for coming up with something else.  Planned casual Friday outfit to the rescue!

My headache is now about 80% reduced so I'm now feeling basically functional but not great.  I hope tomorrow is better!

"The Stripey Floral Overlord"--Wednesday, 5/18/16

The combination of floral print and stripes is a favorite, so I decided to do my own version of this weekend outfit for casual Friday at work staying home with a migraine.  (Re: her original post, it amuses me that when a colleague asked her what she was doing for Mother's Day, she responded with something about her own mother, having temporarily forgotten that as a mom, it's her day too.  I guess it goes to show, moms were daughters first, eh?)


While she started with a colorful cardigan and repeated a color from it with the shoes, I started from a neutral base of white, black, and grey.  Then I added a couple splashes of bright blue with the necklace and ballet flats.  I liked the effect a lot!

White/grey floral blazer (Coldwater Creek), $4.17/wear
Black and white rope striped top (Kohls), $3.00/wear
Bootcut jeans (thrifted, Kohls), $0.64/wear
Blue/crystal bib necklace (Baublebar), $13.00/wear
Bright blue flats (Payless), $2.00/wear

Outfit total: $22.81/wear

Here is a close up of one of the few flowers we saw at the national wildlife refuge.  Pretty!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Vehicular Grumpness

"Teal Investment"--Tuesday, 5/17/16

OK, I'm cheating a little bit here in using this photo because the full outfit is actually a sweater dress with a top layered underneath.  Still, I thought this was a nice inspiration photo for my cardigan vest.


To get a bit of that drapeneck feel (and because I have been looking for new ways to wear this shirt), I've paired it with a paisley knit top and a somewhat less dramatic (but still eye-catching) necklace.  Plus these shoes that made one of my co-worker's say "I want shoes that color!  That's so fun!"  (She's a remarkably cheerful and happy person but still, I'll take it.)

Cream cardigan vest (JCP), $7.82/wear
Green/blue paisley drapeneck knit top (JNY/Macy's), $6.25/wear
Hammered silver necklace (JNY), $2.40/wear
Black zip front casual skirt (thrifted, Target), $2.50/wear
Bright teal flats (Payless), $1.08/wear

Outfit total: $20.05/wear

A simple black skirt and some bright flats round things out.  There is a bit of that compensatory dressing action going with chunky sweater + bare legs but it worked.

Check out this pretty tree from our state park visit--I'm loving the drapey, droopy new growth.  It's like the spring counterpart to icicles/tinsel!

In other news...I could have walked home this evening faster than I drove because somehow reducing the major street that I have to take to get to my apartment from 2 lanes to 1 lane means that traffic speed is reduced from 50+ mph to less than 3 mph.

OK, I looked it up to see what's going on and found out that it's a county project.  Here's what they say about it: "Pedestrian curb ramp work is scheduled for May-June 2016 and will last approximately 2-3 weeks to complete. Resurfacing work is scheduled for July-September 2016 and will take approximately 2-3 weeks to complete."

Yep, winter is over.  Welcome to construction season.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Turtles, Egrets, and Grit

"On Point With Testudines"--Wednesday, 5/11/16

In a post on "how to style casual blazers," Bridgette suggests that a solid-and-white patterned blazer can be worn with any colors.  She shows it here with purple and green.


I decided to use this approach with my kind of overwhelming striped/polka dot blazer. 

Purple short-sleeved T (Target), $3.50/wear
White skirt (Walmart), $6.00/wear
Black and white striped/polka dot blazer (thrifted, Jessica London), $5.00/wear
Gold flats (Nordstrom), $2.50/wear
Turtle pendant (Target), $5.00/wear

Outfit total: $22.00/wear

That's all well and good.  But let's face it, the turtle makes the look. 

I do not have a turtle photo from our national wildlife refuge trip this weekend to share (I didn't see any turtles), but will you accept a Great Egret taking flight from a pond?  (I love the dangling feet.)

In other news...Tam sent this article from Slate that is a review of Angela Duckworth's new self-help book about grit / criticism of the grit concept.  Here are some semi-random thoughts in response.

I do have some points of agreement with the author.  Grit is a classic "old wine/new bottles" phenomenon--i.e., an old concept (or variation on a familiar concept) that is repackaged with a new name.  And I do agree that restriction of range is a big issue when trying to extrapolate the results of some of the seminal Grit-is-Great studies to different settings.  I mean, I think the West Point example is an interesting case--grit did do something that the other measures couldn't do: distinguish between those who succeeded and those who failed at that specific challenge, surviving the hellish weeks of Beast Barracks.  But that doesn't mean that it is the greatest predictor of who succeeds in the program, with its varied demands, overall.  And there is a subtle difference, I think, between developing a measure that predicts an outcome and "explaining how something happens" with a level of conceptual depth--a distinction that gets lost with this example, though the rampant empiricism of personality psychology often does not agree with my position on this.  I do think that the (understandable) desire to make one's favorite construct/measure the Key to Everything has taken Duckworth down a wrong road here. 

The article talks a lot about applications to education because Duckworth appears to have identified this as an important place for grit work.  However, from what I've read, grit is already fading from popularity in the K-12 education scene (albeit from a ridiculous height in certain charter school systems).

Regarding the value of grit, I think that...well, let's go with conscientiousness rather than grit because it's got a much stronger empirical basis.  The main effect of high conscientiousness on positive outcomes is very strong.  It is actually kind of difficult to demonstrate situations in which high conscientiousness is a bad thing.  I mean obviously anyone can come up with specific examples of people like Tam's grad school friend who is highly conscientious and struggling in grad school (and I'm not sure I would characterize her problems as stemming from high conscientiousness exactly) and think of situations in which people "should" give up or whatever, but my sense is that the literature on "when is high conscientiousness bad" is relatively small.  Demonstrating that high conscientiousness really hurts you in identifiable situations is tough to do in a rigorous way.  And I say this as a social psychologist by training and temperament who has a basic level of disdain for my sister field of personality psychology :)   

Don't get me wrong--researchers absolutely have shown how task characteristics, feedback characteristics, etc., can cause worse outcomes for those with high conscientiousness.  That is, after all, what research psychologists do--find something that has a strong main effect and then find the situations in which the opposite is true.  It's also possible that the relationship between conscientiousness and positive outcomes is curvilinear--that higher conscientiousness leads to better outcomes until the conscientiousness level is super-extremely high (like, maybe in the obsessive-compulsive range), at which point the relationship turns negative.  (The research I've seen on this issue, taken from non-clinical participant samples, has not borne that out, but I bet somebody somewhere has found or is working on finding the right sample to show this.)  But if you were in the position of getting to choose whether your child (for example) were going to be high (though possibly not crazy-high) or low in conscientiousness, the research indicates that high conscientiousness is the way to go.

This reminds me of something I read in a paper about self-control in grad school, which I think is applicable here:  "When assessing the costs and benefits of self-control, it is important to note that self-control is ultimately just a tool, and it can be used for bad purposes just as easily as for good, praiseworthy ones.  Given that most individuals' goals seem to align with general social norms, self-control is most often used for positive ends for the self and society" (Baumeister and Alquist, 2009).  When people use self-control/conscientiousness/grit/etc. to further goals that are not in their interests, is that the fault of conscientiousness or a poor selection of goals/priorities?  It's a hell of a tool, but you still need to use it wisely.

Anyway, back to my annoyance with the article.  The author hit one of my pet peeves with this whole "but all this psychology is just common sense!" aspect.  They would have been better served sticking to the demonstrable short-comings of the construct, research, etc., than focusing on this.  I mean, you're reviewing a fucking SELF HELP BOOK!  The idea that there is a lot of "common sense" in it is pretty much a given, right?

And of course, at the end the author is all, Well I have really low grit and I'm awesome and I'm great at my job!  So yeah, there is definitely some motivated cognition going on there.  Which is how people get through the day but still, I don't think this was the right person to write this article (to the extent that it is intended to be an objective analysis and not just a fun why-I-hate-this-thing review--it seems clearly intended to be the first type and would be an utter failure as the second because it isn't fun at all).  From the beginning of the article, there seemed a weird taking-this-personally vibe that made a lot more sense when I got to the personal reveal at the end.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Self Inspired + Birds!

Down the Same Rabbit Hole Again--Sunday, 5/15/16

Remember this outfit from last fall?  That woman slayed in her Alice T-shirt.

From best social psychology fashion blog evah!

The top/cardigan combo was so perfect, I figured, What the hell, let's do that again!  I admit that I was really fond of the light pink scarf but I decided to change it up a little bit this time with a leopard print cami and a necklace.  That works too.

Grey/pink striped open cardigan (thrifted, Kohls), $1.00/wear
Grey Alice in Wonderland T (Out of Print), $2.88/wear
Bootcut jeans (thrifted, Target), $0.20/wear
Dark grey ball necklace (Macy's), $2.14/wear
Grey leopard camisole (Kohls)
Bright pink flats (Payless), $0.87/wear

Outfit total: $7.09/wear

In other news...This morning Robert and I drove to a national wildlife refuge that is right down the street from both America's second largest mall and our major airport, about a 15 minute drive from our apartment.  We hadn't been there in some time, and it was an absolutely wonderful day for hiking and birdwatching.  Cool when we arrived and warming up to about 60 F.  It got windy toward the end of our approx. 3.5 hour visit but was otherwise calm and lovely.  In addition to the birding, we also got in a 4+ mile walk.  (I hit 10,000 steps on my Fitbit before 1:30 p.m.!)

We saw 40 total bird species, including four warbler species--Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Yellow Warbler, and Palm Warbler--as well as several Baltimore Orioles, which are always a treat.  We added several birds to our state list.  One of these amuses me greatly because as we were walking along some ponds that were swarming with Chimney Swifts and various swallows, I joked that we should see a Sand Martin, a bird we saw in Germany.  The Sand Martin is called the Bank Swallow in the US (and we've seen it before in TX) but I thought that we were north of its US range.  Joke was on me because I saw one!  At first I thought it was just another Northern Rough-winged Swallow, albeit one with a cognitive-dissonance-producing dark band under its throat, but Robert showed me the drawing in the field guide and Bam, there it is.  As it turns out, we are in the breeding range of the Bank Swallow up here.

It's hard to pick out a favorite sighting of the day, but I think I'm going to go with the bird that we couldn't identify until we were sitting at my computer, looking at the photograph I took.  It was a non-descript dark-backed flycatcher but had a patch of something white on it--in the field, it looked like another bird had taken a dump on it.  But in the closer view I got with my camera, we could see that it wasn't a white patch ON the feathers--it was a white patch OF feathers.  Looking at the Crossley field guide, Robert said, Olive-sided flycatcher?  I looked at the book and said, Hey, it even says here "Occasionally shows white tufts near tertials!"  Robert was like, I don't think that's what they're talking about.  But when I looked at the Sibley field guide with this in mind, it showed a drawing of an olive-sided flycatcher with a huge white patch just like our bird had.  Just like this:

Not a bad photo, eh?  It helps when the bird positions itself on a clear branch on a sunny day.  Isn't that a strange patch of white feathers?  We have seen olive-sided flycatcher before--two different occasions at Wild Basin in Austin--but not with this big white patch.  So that was a cool little bird mystery solved.

More bird, mammal, butterfly, and flower photos from our trip to come.  Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Blogs Made Me Buy Them

"Minty Fish"--Saturday, 5/14/16

This blog post from February 2015 promised "7 casual work outfits with jeans" and really delivered with this mint sweater + jeans + leopard flats combo.


There's no need to reserve this cute look only for work, though.  In place of the embellished collar (doesn't it look to you like an inverted crown?), I added a separate statement necklace to my outfit.  Does mint go with fish?  I'm seeing some recipes that suggest yes (must they all contain lemon as well?) but I am more intrigued by the Vietnamese herb fish mint.

Mint cardigan vest (JCP), $7.82/wear
White long-sleeved crew neck T (Lands End), $1.71/wear
Bootcut jeans (thrifted, Target), $0.21/wear
Leopard flats (Nordstrom), $2.78/wear
Gold fish charm necklace (Ann Taylor), $4.96/wear

Outfit total: $17.48/wear

In other news...Last night I read this blog post about the new Lauren Conrad LC Disney Alice in Wonderland collection at Kohls.  For grown-ass women.  I am not making this up.  When I looked online, I found that there is also a Colleen Atwood Alice Through the Looking Glass collection (as in the new movie coming out later this month).  I told Robert that I didn't need any of it and he said (quite rightly), "It isn't about need."  True, it's about love.  I ordered the blue bunny blouse and a selection of graphic Ts/tanks.  We'll see how they work out.

There is also a collection for girls, which is super-adorable.  Why do I not have any girls to shop for?  WHY???

Last weekend I ordered the board game Carcassone, which is a tile-placement game that works with 2 players.  We've played several times already, and it's a winner.  (I had seen a blog post in which someone bought a different game, but when I looked it up, it requires 3 players.  A reviewer referred me to Carcassone as a two-player option.)  It reminds me a bit of dominoes, which makes sense, I guess, with the whole tile-placement thing, though there is a little bit of resource management to it as well.