store review: {intimacy} a horrible experience there...

Talk about a nightmare. I read this article in Bloomberg Businessweek about this really awesome sounding new lingerie store where they have 70,000 bras in each store. And a new one opened in DC!

To get a fitting you have to make an appointment in advance. They will not let you buy one with out a fitting. And you have to fill out a questionnaire online about what you are looking for. I am only looking for nursing bras.

I get there on time. No one is in the store, except the three women working there. I tell them I am there for a fitting. One woman says I must be Nicole. I am in fact Nicole.

"Did you fill out a questionnaire online?"

"I did."

"We can't access the computers, so could you fill it out again." (Why ask me if you can't access it?)

I do. All I need, the sole reason for driving an hour to get to this store, are properly fitting nursing braS. (She NEVER reviews my card that I filled out.)

I only check this on the card. The woman then tells me her colleague will be with me in a moment. I stand there like an asshole...for 5 minutes...then the other woman standing next to the woman who initially helped me says, hello, she will be helping me. WHAT? Is this some joke? You kept me standing there for no reason? I had an appointment.

Then, as asks if the trainee can see my fitting. Fine. I don't really care. She brings in a maternity bra. I try it on. It is a fine bra. $117 but fine. I don't need a maternity bra. I need nursing bras. She says for free they will alter any bra to be a nursing bra.

"How do you do that?"

"We cut the strap, and put a hook and eye in, just like in the back."

Really? I could cut my bra apart and sew in a hook and eye. And who is going to cut their new $117 bra?

"Could I just see the nursing bras?"

Seriously 15 minutes later she returns with five bras that are all maternity bras.

"I am really ONLY looking for nursing bras."

"I could not find them."

"Well could you look a little more. That's all I need. Don't you have something like 70,000 bras in each store?"

She come back eventually, telling me the girls working are new, so they don't know where the bras are, and she usually works in a different store.

This is the only store in the DC area, so I ask what other store she works in. One in California.


She tells me the nursing bras were all mixed in with the other bras.

"This is the only nursing bra we sell. Try it on, and see how it works."

It is too small. She says it comes in black or nude. I tell her I will take one of each in the proper size. Oh she also mentioned she does not like to sell nursing bras until closer to when the baby is due. I thank her for her opinion.

Then this: "This is our best selling nursing bra."

"Well of course it is, if it is the ONLY one you sell."

She smiles.

We go to the register. She tells me they no longer sell the nursing bra in black. I ask, just to verify, if they only sell this nursing bra.

"At this store."

"At this store? So you have other nursing bras?"

"Not at this store."

"Do you or do you not sell other nursing bras?"

"We have others, but not at this store."

"Could you order me one?"

"No, because you would need to try it on. The sizing is a lot different because there is no under wire."

I remember that apparently you don't want under wires when you are nursing. I read it someplace.

"So there is no way I could get the other bra?"


I was incredulous. A store which will only let you buy bras that you try on, doesn't have the bra in stock, and can't get it, and I drove a hour to get there after waiting 2 days for a damn appointment, and I am supposed to just buy the ill fitting bra she had me try on?

"I think I will just not buy anything. Thanks. Could I get the district manager's phone number?"

She gives me the store manager's number.

When I call to talk to the store manager, they hang up on me.

I could not make this up.

I called their headquarters in Atlanta. Finally got a hold of someone. They promised to call me today. No call yet.

Addition: They called this morning, but I did not have my cell phone. I will call her back tomorrow and let you know what happens.


uncomplete thoughts

Sometimes, I get so wrapped up in questioning the knowledge surrounding some subject that I completely discount that any real knowledge is known about that subject. My questioning of the little things makes me skeptical of whether the big piece of understanding is correct.

I suppose this could be called over-thinking.

I have been doing this about the birth process lately. I don't really buy that all babies need to come out by 42 weeks of gestation. But my friend Pam pointed out that in places where they don't do this the infant mortality rate is much higher. (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2091rank.html)

I still am skeptical, but need to accept that doctors do in fact have some knowledge and experience that I don't have, so I should trust that.


book review: how my breasts saved the world: misadventures of a nursing mother

by Lisa Wood Shapiro

I ran across this book at our bookstore and took a chance on it. Baby books can be hit or miss. One I read was so bad I did not even want to review it. I liked how the book started: with this idealized version of how her mother and other female family members discussed breastfeeding as though they had all done it for years and it was so easy...

Years ago, I asked Linda if she had breastfed all of us. “Yes, all of you were breastfed.” Well, ok. Then later I thought to ask more.

“How long did you breastfeed Mt?”

“Oh, almost a year I suppose.”


“Eight months.”


“I quit work with John, so 6 months I think.”


“You were breast fed.”

“For how long?”

“You were breastfed.”

I finally got out of her that I was breastfed for almost a month before she went back to work.

This book turned out to be just wonderful and full of all kinds of interesting tidbits. The author wrote the story basically as an extension of her quest to explain to new mothers how difficult breastfeeding is and how important getting help is to your success. She walks all over Brooklyn telling new moms about her nursing group and breastfeeding pillows, and leaking boobs, and on and on. Her husband tries to shut her down a few times, but to no avail.

Her tips, scattered throughout, are lovely.

• Re-load the diaper bag as soon as you get home so it is ready to go when you are ready to leave again. Getting out of the house is 100% of the battle.
• When making homemade cupcakes, use the food processor and just put the batter into the cupcake papers directly on a cookie sheet rather than using a muffin tin.
• Get a lactation consultant early and often. It is worth the expense.
• The latch is the hardest part.

I keep thinking about the book and telling my friends who are expecting what Lisa said: it is hard, so get help. I haven’t even tried it yet...but I am leaking. (Is that TMI?)


ice cream success

Erica and Brent's dad, Harry, got us an ice cream maker for Christmas. We finally made ice cream the other night...but I did not follow the directions exactly, and the first batch was a fail. (Egg whites and egg yokes should not be mixed up.) Tonight we tried again, and SUCCESS. It was really easy. Mix and then put it into the machine. Next time we will modify the recipe a bit more. It was a bit too creamy for us.

Simple Vanilla Ice Cream

1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream (1 c = half a pint, like the little milk boxes you got in elementary school)
1 tablespoon vanilla

Mix, chill, then put into the machine. Mix until thickened; about 20 minutes.


book review: kraken: the curious, exciting, and slightly disturbing science of squid

Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid

by Wendy Williams

I love cephalopods: octopus, cuttlefish, squid. I don’t eat them because I love them so...I could never even try one. They are just too smart(see video above regarding their smarts). So when Brent surprised me with this book, I was excited. But the book disappointed, or rather the author did. I know she spent a lot of time working on the book, but she injected herself into the story too often. And I feel like she needed a better editor. She repeated herself a lot.

I did learn some fun things though.

For example, the star of The Aquarium of the Pacific, was an octopus which was found walking along the street several miles from the ocean! Can you imagine seeing that? A good Samaritan saved the little guy, named Lucky Sucker.

Cephalopods’ ink contains dopamine, so its prey might be feeling good while being eaten.

So, if you are really into the little guys like I am, read the book. Otherwise, skip it.


eels, by james prosek

What do you know about eels? Other than their skin can make great wallets that will demagnetize your credit cards...nothing really.

You all know about my interest in the stranger things of the world. Well, Eels: An Exploration, from New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the World's Most Mysterious Fish about eels was just fascinating and filled all of the requirements I have for a great read: 1. random topic, 2. well written, and 3. easily explained to others. An excellent read, even if you don't think you care about eels.

Eels, which are fish and not to be confused with electric eels, are born in the ocean and swim up the rivers to live, the opposite of other fish. The scientists think the eels from the eastern coast of the north and south American continents spawn in the Sargasso sea...but no one has ever seen them actually spawn. And eels can live outside of water for periods of time enabling them to move between ponds.

Prosek travels all over the world to learn more about eels...he spends 10 years of his life on eels, and we are the recipients of his massive amounts of knowledge. I would be interested in what got left on the editing floor, because I bet there were lots of interesting gems lying around.

Unfortunately, eels are not faring well. According to Prosek, eels once traveled up the Mississippi as far as Iowa, Ohio, Minnesota, and Illinois. Dams have been their downfall.

Prosek also travels to the island of Pohnpei where the eel is worshiped by some as their ancestors, and therefore not eaten. As an aside, the island also has a set of ruins from the city of Nan Madol, "a ruined city that lies off the eastern shore of the island of Pohnpei that was the capital of the Saudeleur dynasty until about AD 1500." You have to check out the pictures of this place (click this sentence.)

Here is a video about the last guy on the east coast who still uses a weir to collect eels in the same manner as the Native Americans did:

eel•water•rock•man from Orion Magazine on Vimeo.


i can't believe

the weekend is over already. Lots of stuff accomplished. The white chair is gone. The rocking chair is in the living room, ready to rock. The closet reorg has begun. We have started emptying out the chest of drawers for the baby. I caught up with lots of friends this weekend. A good weekend.

Oh and my leg is healing finally.

How was your weekend?


wonderful news

My aunt, the esteemed actress, Kate Harris, won a very prestigious award last night in Chicago for her role in Cabaret last year. The non-equity Jeff Awards are given for excellence in acting. I am so proud. She really deserved this award.

Read more about the award here...



So few weeks ago I sent out a survey to my friends. I was reading On Managing Yourself, which is one of the Harvard Business Review's 10 MUST READS.

On the first page there were even some interesting ideas. Peter Drucker said that most people don't know what they are good at nor do they know what they are bad at. Which made me think: I should ask everyone about my skills and see what they say.

I asked everyone to email me 3 things they thought I was good at and 1 thing I am bad at? (Other than receiving criticism...I know that one already. :P ) I promised to send out the results. And offered to do the same for my friends.

I got a surprising number of responses. I think the responses fit into 8 groups: photography, being a good friend, confident, adaptive psychology, sense of humor, good project manager, writing, other.

In terms of number of time mentioned, being a good friend was by far the most, with being a good photographer being the second most mentioned quality. Having an ability to adapt to life changes well, resiliency, was the other oft mentioned characteristic.

Brent felt that my bad qualities often reflected more on the person bringing the issue up than on me...which was an interesting insight. Impatience was the most mentioned deficiency, which is probably true. Ok, it is true.

Tomorrow, what I plan do to with these insights.


the multitasking myth

This little op-ed from Government Executive does a great job explaining why multitasking is a myth.

You are not the outlier. You cannot multitask.

What is the word for singletasking?

The Myth of Multitasking
By Elizabeth Newell

"Most federal managers feel they have no choice but to multitask. Among the multiple projects with overlapping deadlines, performance reports that need to be filed and employees who require direction, tackling one task at a time seems like a luxury supervisors can't afford. But multitasking could be slowing you down and costing the government valuable productivity points.

This loss in efficiency stems from what researchers call "switchover time," the time needed to refocus on the original task after you've temporarily switched gears. In a 2001 article in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, researchers showed that switchover time can take a couple of minutes for every change. Multiple switch-overs a day - even an hour - can sap a significant amount of productivity.

So what should managers do? Multitask less.

In an academic study published Feb. 14, 2008, in The Journal of High Technology Management Research, managers said the key to managing multiple projects is to minimize switchovers by being meticulously organized, methodical and focused.

One manager said he clears his desk of all documents or reminders of projects B, C and D while working on project A. Of course, this becomes increasingly difficult with technology in the mix. You might be able to clear your desk of documents, but it's much harder to keep project B-, C- and D-related emails from popping up in your inbox. Technology-related multitasking exacerbates what some call technostress in the workplace. Technology is effective and helpful in part because computers are designed to multitask, but the human mind is not designed the same way.

"The human mind can switch from one task to the other but it keeps the previous task queued somewhere in the back of the mind," Peter E. Brillhart wrote in a September 2004 article for The Journal of the American Academy of Business. "The more tasks we try to multitask the less efficient we become at performing any tasks . . . Laboratory research shows that multitasking increases stress, diminishes perceived control, and may cause physical discomfort such as stomach aches or headaches."

You might be reading this and sighing, convinced that you are the outlier - the rare, exceptional human whose productivity is multiplied by multitasking. Odds are you're wrong. A 2009 Stanford University study set out to determine what, exactly, effective multitaskers were doing better than everyone else. The study focused on people who multitasked extensively while using different forms of media (the computer, smartphones, etc.). To their surprise, the answer was - nothing. People who multitask at the highest levels are "suckers for irrelevancy," says Clifford Nass, a Stanford communication professor and co-author of the study. Apparently they are easily distracted and struggle to distinguish a worthy distraction from one that should be pushed aside.

So the next time you're tempted to knock out a few emails before finishing up that report on your desk, think again."