reality is weirder than you think

Tag: color

The stupidest idea I’ve ever had: cross-stitch data visualizations

Ever had a stupid good idea? So obvious it’s dumb, but nobody’s done it? (Much.)

I had one of those ideas yesterday, out grocery shopping.

It was so dumb I laughed out loud.

Wanna know what it is?


Given that I’ve been into cross-stitching lately, and I work a lot with data and data visualizations, I realized…

Why not combine the two?

I mean, cross-stitching is almost entirely counting and graphing–so why not stitch a bar graph or a bell curve instead of a gamboling kitten?

Sure it’s not usable data, but it’s fun. It can be beautiful. And it sure as heck can be meaningful.

I know someone who has a framed “Napoleon’s March Into Russia” on the wall of her office.

So I decided to go for it.

And what better subject to start with than the sneaker data wave of 2017?

I’m talking about Bitcoin.

Data courtesy of CoinDesk. Technically the last month of 2016 is in there too–let’s pretend it was for dramatic effect.

I think it turned out pretty well, considering I did about 0 minutes of planning. Super fun.

Expect more like this in the future.



If you’re interested in hanging a framed version of this on your own wall, let me know in the comments or contact me directly.


Needlepoint is meditation AND instant gratification

I’ve gotten back into needlepoint lately. Counted cross-stitch, to be precise.

It’s great on multiple levels.


Even using a pre-planned design, working on a needlepoint project involves creating something that has never existed in the universe before. There is something primally satisfying about the act of creation.

This time around, I’m developing the design myself. I have an idea, and I’m planning out sections as I go. I picked the colors that I wanted (shades of coral and moss green, my favorites, with a tiny glimmer of yellow). Some of the specific patterns and fonts I’m stealing from other sources, but the overall plan is mine. I’m greatly enjoying the anticipation of seeing the execution of a design I’ve conceived.


Needlepoint projects are a mini-lesson in logistics. Do I start from the right or from the left? Do I do one stitch at a time, or go through the row one way and then back the other way? Letters first, or decorations? So many questions to answer.

I’m not a needlepoint expert, so I can’t give you answers to those questions.

But I can tell you that working on a project like this is a tiny way to stretch your brain in the arena of planning and execution. You know where you want the project to end up, and then you have to make all of the medium- and ground-level decisions to get to that end point.

Most needlepoint projects can’t be done in one sitting, so it’s also an object-lesson on working on a project bit by bit until it’s finished.

You can take this knowledge and extrapolate it to other areas of life.

Instant Gratification

While it sounds like the complete opposite of the long-term benefits, the thing that I like the most about needlepoint is the instant gratification. Every stitch that you finish is there, stitched into the fabric, for you to admire. That stitch, and all the stitches surrounding it, have changed the texture of the fabric forever. You can feel the difference if you run your finger across the stitches.

And that happens every single time you work on the project.

With other types of long-term projects, you don’t always get the satisfaction of a job well done until the very end. Cooking can be like that, and definitely event planning is like that. But with needlepoint, there are pretty things to look at (even if it’s just the colors!) at every step on the way.


I like the idea of meditation, but I’m not huge on the traditional practice of it. Experience has shown me that it’s valuable to stop thinking (in words) for a period of time, but I feel that it’s more important to shift the mode of thinking than it is to stop thinking altogether.

When I take a ballet class, I can’t focus on anything else. When I play music or focus on a drawing, my thinking shifts into those ways of thinking and all my verbal worries evaporate.

Same thing with needlepoint.

When you’re focused on creation, you’re not focused on yourself or what’s wrong with the world. Better for all involved.

In Conclusion

Consider trying out needlepoint. It’s fun, satisfying, and therapeutic.

Melania wears a costume in China

I started compiling this post determined to make a “reduce reuse recycle” joke about Melania’s outfit choices in China.

Turns out they’re completely different outfits.

Embed from Getty Images

I can, however, feel fashion bloggers wincing at the matchiness between the deep fur cuffs and the stilettos. That is a hallmark of Melania’s style at this point. Not much jewelry, very simple silhouettes, and matchiness.

This is the most embellished dress I can recall her wearing. Interestingly, her outfits in Poland and France were also relatively more colorful and embellished. I wonder why she allows her clothes more visual interest overseas?

The unexpected embellishment adds to the feeling of costume, along with the silhouettes that are not typical Melaniawear. The stilettos help tie each look back to what she typically looks like.

Embed from Getty Images

While I’m slowly getting on board with the matchiness idea — some people are just like that — the thing I don’t understand is why she wore two outfits that include the same visual elements on the same trip. She knows that she’s going to be photographed, so I truly don’t understand the decision to wear two outfits that are so similar. It’s harder to distinguish between one event and the other, and it’s an opening for criticism.

The other thing is that black and baby pink really aren’t her colors. She does really well with warmer colors, and browns. Strong colors, not icy ones.

Thinking back on what I’ve written, it strikes me that I don’t know any of the context behind these wardrobe choices. Perhaps they were created by Chinese designers specifically for her visit. Perhaps the fashion industry is being big enough bitches that she’s having a difficult time finding options. I don’t know.

Is it worth finding out?

On the other hand, the images have to stand on their own. That includes the “art direction” inside of the images, which includes wardrobe.

Unexpected color palette

Colors are fun. A cohesive color palette can be even funner. And it’s funnest when you run across those color palettes in the wild.

Take, for instance, this twitter photo:


Guys. I love a good green/blue color scheme. It’s the color of trees and sky on a clear summer day — God’s perfect creation.

Add a little bit of yellow for sizzle and gray for grounding? Get outta here.

Abstracted from the photo, this reminds me of a sophisticated take on the Seattle Seahawks.

Or, perhaps a relaxed bank or financial firm. Lots of green to make you think of money, but in a youthful way. Gotta sucker those Millennials into taking on more debt before Gen Z comes of age.

When a random documentary photo is enticing enough to make you want to live there, I think the color palette will be welcoming too.

Now that I think about it, I might lessen the influence of that bright blue and put it on par with the yellow, offsetting with more of the green color.

But that’s just quibbling about the price.

The end.

Melania in Paris Pt II

I wasn’t going to do another post on Melania in Paris because I don’t want this to become a blog that’s all Melania all the time, but look! Look at this! This magnificent deployment of a bright red, New Look-inspired suit. She completely BTFOs Madame Macron. Melania comes across as more chic than the actual French woman!

Next to her, Madame Macron looks like she’s a “cool mom” cosplaying as a nurse.

Notice also the differences in posture between the two women. Melania is standing tall, with one ankle slightly arched to create a more graceful line; Macron is slightly hunched, jutting her chin forward, with her hand plastered to the side of her thigh.

Melania’s suit has more surface area, which commands more attention. Since it’s also lots of RED surface area, which pulls the eye even more.

Plus Melania is wearing sunglasses, which add that air of mystery and glamour.

She is demure, glamourous, and patriotic.

And all eyes are on her.


In a recent YouTube video, Justine LeConte talked about color theory as applied to our wardrobes. Justine talks about Melania for always sending a clear message with her style. Specifically talking about color, she cited the pale blue coat at the inauguration and the white dress with a thin red belt at the inaugural ball. I wasn’t convinced with only two examples, but after yesterday’s post and the photo above, coupled with her bright pink pussy-bow blouse at one of the debates last year, I’m convinced. Melania knows what she’s doing.

For a First Lady, she conveys her solidarity with her husband in her actions, her words, and in the way she presents herself. Whether it’s  wearing the complementing blue to his red and white, or literally wearing the sartorial version of “pussy,” the word that the media was beating into the public consciousness in an attempt to stop him, Melania dresses in a way that ties her to Trump.

Melania always impeccably polished and appropriate, in a way that complements the Trump brand. Her clothes are never ostentatious, but they scream “I’m rich,” which strikes me as a balance between her quieter personality and his habit of flamboyance.

So while she visually ties herself to her husband in a show of solidarity, she clearly has her own point of view. This seems to bear out with the interviews I’ve watched of her, where she thoughtfully provides input behind the scenes.

At first, when I got the idea to write about Melania Trump’s fashion because certain other fashion bloggers refuse to, I wasn’t sure what I would write about. It’s becoming quite clear that Melania knows exactly what she’s doing, and I’m looking forward to chronicling it. I’m ready to decipher her style messages.

We have a professional fashion rhetorician in the house, ladies and gentlemen.


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