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Showing posts from 2015

How to fix America's financial relationship to healthcare

Yesterday, I posted the Wikipedia page on Direct Primary Care to Hacker News. It got no upvotes, but I submitted it to try to get this information out there:

One of the lesser known provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act can be found in Section 1301 (and amendment Section 10104). This provision allows for direct primary care to compete with traditional health insurance options in the mandated Health insurance exchange when combined with a low cost high deductible plan.
I probably cannot find a good article that says what I want it to say and, based on the reactions to the FPP I did on Metafilter the day before, I think I probably need to give some background information anyway.

I worked in insurance for over 5 years. My employer, a major insurance company on the Fortune 500 list, paid for 3 months training for me to even start the job. So I know how insurance is supposed to be used. Some kinds of insurance are good, but, really, the way basic health insurance …

How I got a man to do women's work and became the envy of my female coworkers

In my teens, I was one of the top three students of my graduating high school class. I had the highest SAT scores of that class. Based on those SAT scores, I won a National Merit Scholarship to the University of Georgia, one of the more prestigious institutions in the state where I was born and raised. People expected me to have a serious career. People thought I would be a self made millionaire by age 30.

But I ended up declining my scholarship and getting married at age 19 to my high school sweetheart. For a long time, I was a full time military wife and homeschooling mom. Then I got divorced.

Thus, in my early forties, after spending a lot of years in a very traditionally female role, I found myself the head of household and primary breadwinner in a household of three people. The other two were my sons, in their late teens when I got my corporate job.

At some point, I sat my sons down and I said "I am now the primary breadwinner, but I still load the dishwasher at least onc…

She's Just Getting Her MRS

The title of this article is an old fashioned term that refers to a woman attending college just to nab a good husband instead of out of a sincere desire for a degree and a career. Linguistically, it is a play on expressions like "Getting a BA" (Bachelor of Arts) or "Getting an MS." (Master of Science).

It's a fairly dismissive thing to say, and, to the best of my knowledge, it has some ugly assumptions baked into it. Some of those assumptions seem to be:
A woman who gets an education and ends up being a full time wife and mom derives no benefit out of attending college other than optimizing her chances to meet a prospective husband with a well-paid professional career ahead of him instead of some working Joe.A woman with real career aspirations can't be convinced to get married and support a man's career, in spite of enormous and overwhelming societal and logistical pressures that made it easier to be a full time wife and mom than a professional woma…

How to Make a PayPal Tip Jar

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In spite of never having had much traffic for my websites, I have always made better money from my audience giving me cash than from ads. Even so, it wasn't working as well as I wanted. Eventually, I came up with a better way: I moved from a donate button to a Tip Jar.

Changing from a donate button to a Tip Jar immediately began getting me better results. After a few months, I learned my payment gateway was actually broken.

In other words, even with a broken payment gateway, a Tip Jar was more effective than a donate button. So this is a tutorial on how to make a functional Tip Jar using PayPal.

Go into your PayPal account and select Selling Tools. On the next page, select: Create payment buttons for your website. Click on Create New Button (or modify an existing button for your site) and select the top option of Add drop-down menu with price/option.

After you fill out your options, it should look something like this (minus the red circle) (you can click the image to see a larger…

It's your fault if your employees are stepping out on you

Over the years, I have run into at least a couple of women whose husband's had been unfaithful to them. Invariably, these women seemed to assume I should side with them, apparently simply because I am also female. (Some women seem to assume that all women are part of the Man Haters for Life Club. Sorry, I failed to sign up for that one.)

If I listened to them long enough, I eventually learned that these women were routinely refusing to have sex with their man and then vilifying him when he decided to get his needs met elsewhere. When I worked for a Fortune 500 company, I couldn't help but think of those women every fall when Overtime Season rolled around.

Overtime Season typically started around September and ended around the end of December. The people in charge of my department would watch the work pile up all summer and do nothing about it. Then, when it hit some particular level that they felt was unacceptable, they would announce that we were required to work overtime. (…

Not really rude

I was sexually abused as a child. (I am quite open about that fact. Sorry if that is shocking news to you.) In order to recover, I have done a lot of reading, journaling, therapy, etc to sort things out. Here are a few things I have learned:
Sexual predators do not start with rape. They start by trampling your boundaries in small ways and gradually escalating things until you are the perfect mark. In most cases, only after you have been shaped into a good, cooperative victim who is likely to keep their mouth shut and cover up the crime does it finally culminate in rape. 
In a word, they start with disrespecting you. They expect you to go along in order to not be "rude." By the time something clearly bad has happened, the victim feels complicit and will tend to also look complicit to others should they need to testify as to what happened. It will be very hard to prove they were victimized. 
This seems to largely hold true whether the victim is a child or a grown woman. 
One …

A woman rants about man bashy stuff written by "women in tech"

I wish women would make more of an effort to understand why men do what they do. Here is my general take on it: The Gray Zone

I am certainly frustrated and angry. I am also currently quite poor, and I feel the fact that my gender makes it difficult to network contributes to that, so when well paid women with tech jobs write about their complaints, it often just gets on my nerves. They are not typically struggling to survive. Their complaints often strike me as "first world problem, lol" type material, over which they are apparently thoroughly enraged.

One woman in tech that I was briefly following shared a link to an old article of hers with a trigger warning for sexual assault. After reading it, I was deeply offended that she had used a trigger warning.

The piece in question detailed how some guy had brushed up against her (breasts, iirc) a few times on crowded public transportation under circumstances where she wasn't initially sure herself if she was being intention…

Surviving and Thriving Amidst The Adblocker Wars

In recent weeks, I have been following the discussion on Hacker News about the ad-blocker wars with interest. Here is an example of what I am talking about:

This is the HN Discussion of the article The Devastating Effect of Ad-Blockers for Guru3D.com

The short version of the article is that their income has been cut in half in the previous year or so due to ad blocking and they are thus in dire financial straits because of it. Here is an excerpt of their closing remarks:

Our pledge: we do not serve intrusive ads like pop-downs/pop-ups and takeovers. We serve common ads, mostly targeted and matched at your interests and PC gaming / hardware.

Please whitelist Guru3D.com in Adblock Plus
Go to www.Guru3D.comClick on the AdBlock Plus icon in your browserClick on "Enabled for this site" to switch Adblock Plus towards "Disabled for this site" Our friendly request: Please, seriously please start white-listing the Guru3D.com domain in your ad-blockers as slowly but stead…

First, Realize There is No Glass

Some weeks back, a man asked me some questions about sexism on Hacker News. He has read some of my remarks about being a woman on HN, gone looking for evidence of mistreatment of me and could not find it. He's busy, I'm busy, and it's a weighty, complicated, difficult discussion, so it hasn't gotten very far. But one of the first things I had to explain to him is that there is no smoking gun. The problem lies mostly in the things that do not happen rather than in the things that do happen. So, if you are looking for "crimes of commission," you are not likely to find anything. Instead, you have to search for "crimes of omission." Those are inherently harder to define, describe, spot and quantify.I think part of his problem is his thinking is influenced by the concept of a glass ceiling. I don't think it helps to model it as a glass ceiling. In fact, I think that concept is counterproductive.I get why we have the expression. It is intended to desc…

Don't Ask Me For A Date in Front of 100k People

If you are a man who knows me through a public forum, please spare us both a great deal of awkward discomfort and do not publicly ask me for a date in comments on the forum. This goes double if the forum is Hacker News.

First of all, I do not date. This is a personal policy that I have abided by for more than three decades. It isn't going to change. I have stated that unequivocally in a previous blog post.

Second, since my no dating policy is publicly on record, asking me for a date suggests to me that you haven't bothered to make two clicks through my HN profile and into my personal blog to check for pertinent remarks by me. I am highly inclined to interpret this as evidence that you aren't really interested in a relationship -- i.e. in getting to know me well -- and, instead, I am nothing but a piece of ass to you. If you ever had some hope of getting with me, you have just killed it. You can give up now and stop wasting your time.

Third, there is no good way to tel…

In Search of a More Constructive Answer

“People like her should kill themselves”: What happens when we talk about sexism in tech

HN discussion.

I have mixed feelings. I momentarily considered reaching out to her via email or Twitter, then decided against. I have worked hard to find a more positive path forward. I think I am making headway, but it gets little attention and almost zero fanfare.

So maybe if men are sick of hearing women whine, some of them should make a conscious effort to put more of a spotlight on the good work some women do.

Because it seems like if I am getting much attention, it almost always falls into one of two categories: 1) Hey, baby, can I have your phone number? 2) Bitch, how dare you try to break into the Boyz Club. No girls allowed.

Based on the above post by Ms. Weitz and other things I have seen, I don't think it is just me.

Getting negative attention at least means you are not invisible. If your only choices are negative attention where you get treated like nothing but a piece of ass or neg…

Reducing bias in dating -- a small personal experiment

I got married at age 19 to another 19 year old. The relationship was contentious and argumentative from the get go and we ultimately got divorced. My marriage had had its good points, so I did not feel I had outright screwed up or chosen badly. But, I did feel I had gotten something very wrong.

However, I did not know with certainty which of my husband's characteristics were positives for me and which were negatives. So, during my divorce, I did everything in my power to try to neutralize the influence of my personal history on my prospective mating pool. I neither wanted to repeat whatever mistake I had made, nor throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I happen to be white, as is my ex husband. By the time I got divorced, I had realized that I often had friction with white Americans -- including my ex -- because I am a third culture kid, something I did not have terminology or concepts for until my thirties. I often get along better with Hispanic Americans, foreigners, etc. In so…

Lessons learned as a girl gamer

At the start of my senior year in high school, I decided I wanted to try D&D and see if I liked it. I was reading things like The Lord of the Rings. Based on such interests, my sister had suggested gaming might be a good hobby for me.I didn't know anything about D&D, but I had a classmate who played. I asked him some questions. He directed me to a hobby store where a local group met. He wasn't there that first weekend, but it was his group.I was soon a core member of the group. The core group met Friday night, Saturday starting about noon and running to the wee hours of Sunday morning, and Sunday afternoon. I was usually there both Friday and Saturday and fairly often on Sunday. We went through periods where we also got together on Wednesday night and you could count on me to be up for that. I was one of the most reliable members.Although I was a core member of the group, the group played a variety of games, not just D&D, and I sometimes sat out a game if it wasn&#…

A Little Gem about Appearances and Exercising Power

Probably around age 17, I read a personal anecdote in a women's magazine that became a personal touchstone for me. This is a story I have told many times online. I thought I would finally put it on my blog.

The piece told the tale of how the author attended "assertiveness training" in the 80s. The instructor was a very aggressive woman and the class involved exercises in yelling at people and being generally hostile and rude. At some point, the author did not wish to do this anymore and she tells the instructor "I don't want to yell and be rude. I like being nice to people." She is lectured about how it is a dog-eat-dog world and she must learn to stand up for herself. After being bullied for several minutes and politely declining to take her turn at practicing yelling and being aggressive, the instructor finally moves on.

Moments later, she decides she is done with this class. While other women practice yelling and being aggressive, she quietly gathers …

Bicycles on the Information Super Highway

I recently tripped across a comment on Hacker News that inspired me to ask a question there about 1-3 person shops with profitable web businesses of some kind. I don't really mean consultants who happen to also have a website listing their services. I mean a webcomic, blog, SAAS model, app or other web business that makes enough money to support the 1-3 people who work on it. My question only got one reply and that did not even list any specific examples.

So I thought I would list the ones I happen to know. This list is in no particular order. I have not researched it or fact checked it. It is information "off the top of my head." Inclusion on this list should not be interpreted as a personal endorsement. It just means I am aware of their existence. If you aren't on it, it isn't a slight. I just either am not aware that you qualify or did not think of you as I dashed it off on a lazy Sunday.

Dan Grossman: HN handle: dangrossman For me, this is a new name. A c…

It Was Obsolete Before We Opened The (Pandora's) Box

Thoughts on Basic Income by a homeless woman.

I am really tired of hearing people talk about Basic Income. I understand that automation has created a problem. Lots of people are out of work because robots or software or whatever is taking over jobs. We had a similar issue when we went through the Industrial Revolution. The result was that we created the 40 hour work week. We maybe need to do something similar. We maybe need to make sure that even part time jobs have benefits.

But Basic Income is just a disaster waiting to happen. I fervently hope we do not implement it.

I have a few questions for people who think this is a good idea:

Who gets Basic Income?

Every individual? No matter how high their current income? Or is it based on family unit and current low income levels? If you base it on lack of income, you actively disincentivize working. If you don't make it every individual, then you aren't going to begin to institute any kind of financial equality. If you operate on …

Me and Math

I used to be known as a math-y person in the circles I hung in. That seems to no longer be true, which has me feeling not understood at times. This is an edited excerpt from a private conversation where I felt the need to give my background in order to have any hope of being understood. In 11th grade, I was inducted into Mu Alpha Theta. That is a college level math honor society. Eleventh grade is the earliest you can be inducted. I was also one of only three students who qualified for the higher level math class they made available an hour before the start of school the following year when I was a senior. I opted out because of my health. I didn't have the energy to get up that early, nor could I afford to take on additional unnecessary classwork. So I was one of the top three math students of my graduating high school class. Except for the two students who did take that class, no one else had more math than I did.
As a member of Mu Alpha Theta, I tutored math for a year. One …

Rumor Has It

What is told in the ear of a man is often heard 100 miles away. ~Chinese Proverb
I read once that back when most people lived their entire life within a five mile radius, rumor traveled 20 miles per day. Of course, this was back before radio, TV and Internet, so the grapevine was a critical source of news. In recent years, an incident at my corporate job has been enormous food for thought for a lot of sayings or beliefs that no doubt come from that era in human history when the grapevine played such a large role in the dissemination of valuable information or "news."

When I worked at BigCo, one of my career-savvy, very competent teammates made seeming casual conversation with our boss one day in which he laid out what position he would like to move into as his next rung on the ladder. It was not the usual next rung for his job slot, but it was certainly one possibility. Not very long thereafter, maybe two weeks or so later, a woman came to his cubicle to say they needed peo…