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Showing posts from March, 2014

"I Love Lucy": A "Lifestyle Business" That Changed an Industry

This is an edited version of a piece published previously under the title Lifestyle Businesses and The Unreasonable Woman on 2011/07/02. I basically dislike the term "lifestyle business" which gets used in a dismissive fashion. I think all jobs, businesses, etc. impact on your lifestyle and your lifestyle impacts on them. If you find one that is a good fit, hey, you are one of the lucky few. I know they are trying to say that the people are putting their personal comforts ahead of ambition, but I really think it's a broken mental model.
Lifestyle businesses tend to get trashed as not really serious businesses and as not having the same potential in terms of making money, changing the world and other types of importantness. I find stuff like this annoying. Most folks know so little about history.

Let's talk about "I Love Lucy":
The show was the first scripted TV program to be shot on 35 mm film in front of a studio audience
It may not sound like a big…

Business, Courtship and Women

As stated previously, I am not a big fan of modern dating practices. They look to me like some guy trying to prove he can afford to buy his way into my bed and, no, that is not my cup of tea. But in the past 48 hours or so, I have had an epiphany about courtship (which is kind of what dating is supposed to be about but often is not).

Unlike dating, courtship is generally about getting to know someone well enough to merge two lives together successfully. In other words, it is generally about trying to pursue a marriage. Dating is not necessarily about working out anything that serious. You can date casually, just for fun. The concept of courtship can also be applied to business or diplomatic relationships. It is basically a process of a) getting to know each other well and b) establishing trust in order to make a deal that will be beneficial to both parties. You can't get to a win/win deal without substantial communication about what both sides need and want. It just can't be d…

The Conundrum for a Heterosexual Business Woman

I think the crux of the conundrum for a heterosexual business woman is that you build trust in pretty much the same way regardless of whether it is a platonic or a romantic relationship. If you are a heterosexual woman trying to break in to business, the people in power are mostly heterosexual men. Building trust with them while clearly signaling that this is platonic and also not somehow insulting them by suggesting "I would not sleep with you if you were the last man on earth" is tricky.

And, no, you cannot simplify that by trying to state up front, whether bluntly in words or some other way, that "I would never sleep with you. This is just business." Intimacy, whether sexual or nonsexual, is based on trust. It is based on feeling safe with a person, on feeling like they have your back and will not harm you. Telling a man to his face that he is not attractive is disrespectful and hurts his feelings. Hurting someone's feelings is not only not the way to build…

Princesses Don't Start Starships

When I was married, I was a homemaker and full time mom for nearly two decades. My husband earned the money and our two sons, who have special needs, didn't manage to learn how to cook even though I made a concerted effort to make sure they learned to do housework and the like. After I divorced and got a job at BigCo, I continued to do most of the cooking and cleaning and "women's work" (I am not going to keep putting that in quotes -- I know it is offensive to a lot of people but I also know you know what kind of labor it refers to) even though I was now the primary breadwinner and also still very ill. (They were, however, doing a lot to take care of me, medically speaking.)

At some point, my sons and I had a family conference and I let them know that we had two choices here: Either one or both of them needed to get a job or they needed to take over the women's work so more of my time and energy could go into my job. My preference was they take over the cooking,…

The Creepiness of The Silence of the Lambs

I am pretty upset. I have recently realized that a man I have been passingly acquainted with for about 10 or 15 years is ever so politely and quietly assassinating my character. I have been aware for some time now that he never says I am right or that I have a good idea, never admits he knew me elsewhere, never vouches for me in any way and essentially only speaks to me in order to correct "inaccuracies" he sees in remarks I make.

I used to think this was a very nice man of very good character. I admired him. I used to think he meant me no harm and was merely being ... let's call it pedantic. But, at the moment, I am feeling like it is a concerted, calculated effort of some sort and his actions are so damning that it does not really matter whether it comes from a place of malice or whether there is some more "innocent" explanation for this egregiously harmful pattern of behavior.

I am feeling helpless in the face of it. I am feeling like there is nothing I c…

My Personal Gray Zone

I am someone with big strengths and big weaknesses. In some circles, this is called "twice exceptional." That term usually gets applied to kids who are both gifted and learning disabled. As far as I know, I do not have a learning disability. Instead, my disability is medical in nature.

My medical condition was not properly identified until my mid thirties. Prior to that, I was routinely accused of being lazy and/or a hypochondriac. I was a homemaker for a long time and I was one of the top three students of my graduating high school class. This combination of personal competence and lifestyle choice allowed me to keep myself relatively well in spite of my medical situation.

Twice exceptional individuals often have fairly "average" performances. A very smart kid with a serious learning disability (or several of them) may just be a B student and may spend part of their day in Special Ed classes. The fact that they are very bright and in need of more academic challen…

So, You Made the Front Page

So, I made the front page of Hacker News five times this year. The last time was yesterday. Here are some things I think might be helpful info for others like me who are newbs or outsiders or for whatever reason just did not get the memo and asking for the memo gets met with less than helpful replies.
You're human. Deal with it.

You have been you longer than anyone else on the planet. You probably know some of your own shortcomings. Admit them to yourself and deal with it.

One of mine: I have no patience. In my twenties, my therapist used to say to me "You want patience and you want it NOW!!!". Um, yeah. Where's my patience? I asked for it like two nanoseconds ago and it's still not here. What's the hold up???

So, yesterday, I submitted my link to HN and fifteen minutes later it had fifteen page views, no upvotes and the only comment was by me. Where's my upvotes? Where's my intelligent discussion? Why doesn't anybody like me?

Oh, shut up M…

Glass Walls: Partial Solution to The Glass Ceiling?

The discussion on Hacker News of my piece The Gray Zone had some folks remarking that there are no solutions. I don't think that is true. I felt compelled to respond to someone who indicated they felt a sense of dread over the lack of solutions. So I plan to try to write a bit about things that have worked for me or for other women I have known well enough to hear some of the inside dirt. I think dealing successfully with The Gray Zone is one of those things that a lot of successful women have in common and mostly do not talk about.

This is an excerpt from a piece that was originally titled A Well Placed Smile and was originally published on 2011/10/26 when I still had a corporate job at a Fortune 500 company.
I ran into some guy in the stairwell one day.  Nice man.  Married.  Appears to find me quite likable.  The stairwell was deserted and I was waiting on someone.  He and I talked a minute.  It was an uncharacteristically intimate moment for a work setting.  I don't mean …

Lessons Learned From the Dot Com Bomb

Overheard and reposted with permission of the original author:
I've had a couple friends who work mainly on mainframes, so somewhere on site, a closet, aside their desk is a bunch of outdated machines they use to just make sure thing work as projected to, or what they break. Also, as a head's up if someone does something they shouldn't, or they come under attack in an old school fashion.

People chat with them about how having these machines is a kind of clutter, they have teams for it... but it's also worked as an early warning/fuck up avoidance project and keeps these guys in the loop.

So, in the back of my head, if I walk through a brand new 'start up', that doesn't have someone watching the legacy issues, I think they're in for some kind of colossal melt down that takes days to fix, long hour days and pulls people into crisis management who should not be.

Grow A Set

My dad died a few months ago and the estate is still being settled. Related to that, I spent all day Friday handling papers, some of which were more than three decades old. I have a very serious medical condition and papers tend to make me quite sick. So I spent part of yesterday throwing up and I am not yet eating solid food today. These events have prevented me from working on my two comics and assorted other projects. I hope to get back on track tomorrow or the next day. I mean, it is not like my dad can die again so I don't expect to have similar events disrupting my life...ever again, basically.

In the mean time, while I was away from keyboard, my last post on this blog made the front page of Hacker News. I am genuinely shocked because it was written rather hastily and off the cuff, so I figured other people would think it was crap. On the other hand, it grows out of years of reading and blogging about this topic generally. So it is not like there was no prior practice. It…

The Gray Zone

There is currently at least a couple of discussions on Hacker News about sexism in IT. In this case, a prominent female engineer has quit GitHub and is publicly leveling a lot of ugly accusations. Discussion of such things is also frequently ugly, often dividing up between those folks quick to attack the woman in question and those folks quick to defend her and attack the folks she is accusing.
As for the topic at hand, my cynicism tells me that I'd bet the farm on everything she's said being accurate. I do, however, wish to withhold judgment on both sides without being accused of enabling the decried behavior. That's an alarming trend from a certain vocal group in this industry, a "with us or against us" mentality that bothers me a lot. I've been called a "rape apologist" in the past for simply saying I didn't have enough information about an alleged rape to reach a conclusion.

Excerpt from a comment on HN I think that The Glass Ceiling exist…

Lynch Mob Culture: Reward & Encourage the Mob, Blame & Punish the Victim

A recent discussion on Metafilter has had me thinking on something that has annoyed me for a long time: MetaFilter seems to have a policy of blaming and punishing the victim when everyone else piles on them and rewarding and encouraging the mob instead of holding it accountable. It seems to matter not whether the pile on is a lynch mob or a bunch of people being friendly, trying to reply to "too many" people who have directly addressed you gets you accused of dominating the discussion, "taking on all comers" and similar sins.

I kind of understand why the mods would choose to do this. It is much, much simpler for the mods tell one person they are the problem and need to shut up than to control the many other people involved in the situation. But it is a bad policy. It actively fosters a hostile environment and causes resentment from people who got unfairly ganged up on and then blamed and issued a gag order.

I know for a fact there are better ways to handle this. Wh…

I Finally Remembered to Ask

A few days ago, someone said something to me about "I saw you with your two brothers." Of course, I don't even have two brothers and my actual brother lives on the other side of the continent, so, no, they did not see me with my two brothers. They were referring to my two sons.

I have run into this before and I usually just correct them that "those are my sons" and then, thirty minutes later, go "Darn! I should have asked how old do they think I am?" This time, I finally thought to do that up front. I stated that they weren't my brothers. She said "Really?!! You all look alike!" and I told her they were my sons. I asked her to humor me and tell me how old she thought I was and how old she thought they were. She thought I looked 30 and guessed they were "mid twenties -- maybe 24." They are mid twenties and, in fact, the younger one is 24. So she was a good judge of their ages, but a terrible judge of mine.

Still, I remain sk…

Mz: Not a Feminist Handle

On Hacker News, my handle is Mz. I had it about six weeks before it dawned on me that it might be miss-interpreted as some sort of feminist handle. I considered changing it, but I have a long history of being accused of being some sort of feminist, although I don't see myself as a feminist. So, que sera sera.

How did this happen?
When I signed up for my Hacker News account, I first tried using Michele as my handle. Michele is my actual middle name that I use socially both online and IRL. Naturally, since it is a common name, it was taken already (by someone who was not even active).

Next, I tried Michele in California. That is a name I have used a lot online over the years. It wasn't accepted because it exceeds the character limit for Hacker News handles. You also can't have spaces in a Hacker News handle. So double fail.

After trying that, I decided that, after years of dealing with long handles, I really wanted something shorter than Michele, not longer. Long handles so…

Brain Coming Back Online

I spent the last few days mostly writing what I think is utter crap. I posted and redacted three things from this blog during that time. I am homeless in San Diego county, where it is usually dry, and it was unusually wet for several days. I spent at least two days continuously damp and intermittently soaked. I was okay because someone gave me a jacket so I have not suffered hypothermia though I have been just uncomfortable.

However, the end result was I threw up for about five hours last night.Why? Well, past experience is that walking in the rain and getting drenched and thus wearing wet clothes for hours leads to the clothing drawing something out of my body. I think I vomited more fluids yesterday than I consumed. This is likely (apparently) reducing the chronic bloat of my belly. My suspicion is the chronic bloat is partly there for the purpose of sequestering toxins.

Anyway, it's not anything I would have chosen to do. As toxins come out and infection is resolved, it puts me…

I, Hagrid

I spent the last couple of days writing and rewriting the same piece. I have decided I am not ready to write that piece. I redacted it and have put it on the back burner. To fill the void and not leave this blog languishing without "new" content for overly long, here is something I wrote previously that I don't think it utter crap, even though I don't know if it is of any use to anyone else because it's just me talking about me, with no moral or advice for anyone else. It was originally posted elsewhere on 2013/01/20. Hopefully, I will soon be able to figure out how to say what is rattling around in my head here lately but just not quite gelling.
I'd love a dragon...Vastly misunderstood beasts, Harry. Vastly misunderstood.

First thing you wanna know about hippogriffs, is that they're very proud creatures, very easily offended. You do not want to insult a hippogriff. It may just be the last thing you ever do. Now who'd like to come and say hello?

Ser…