Showing posts from 2017

The Metrics that Matter

This is something I struggle with: Figuring out which metrics matter and somehow making progress on those metrics.

I know you can use forums, social media and the like to further projects, but I have never been good at that. No, instead, much to my chagrin, I was always good at being a walking, talking train wreck where I attracted all kinds of attention of the wrong sort and could not for the life of me figure out how to direct that attention into things I wanted to direct it into, such as traffic for my websites or new members for a discussion group I own.

Over the years, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to stop being a walking, talking train wreck.* For the past few years, I actively worked on attracting less attention and lowering my public profile. I was fairly successful at achieving this goal. On the upside, that meant I saw fewer shit shows. On the downside, it seemed to lead to even less positive attention, such as website traffic.

I found the whole …

PRR Case Study: Starting a New Project

I have long had it in the back of my head that I would like to do something sort of in the vein of I never really had a clear idea what I wanted to do. I just keep seeing questions in various forums to the effect of "What city can I move to that has X?" and I feel like that represents some kind of underserved market or need.

Then on March 30, 2017, I was snarkily tweeting a lot to vent and probably losing followers left and right. Somewhere in there, I began tweeting about wanting to do personalized relocation research for pay. I keep wondering if I can start a business doing personalized relocation research for people.#youwouldthinkthiswouldwork#Butwheretostart?— Mic (@TalithaMichele) March 30, 2017Srsly, I have a Certificate in GIS. I was a military wife. I would be awesome at doing personalized relo research.#Idoitformeallthetime— Mic (@TalithaMichele) March 30, 2017 And then I spontaneously created a website to go with the idea. I have a website even…

Friendly Shoving Matches

There is a great scene in the based-on-a-true-story movie Remember the Titans in which one of the white team members shoves one of the black team members and invites him to shove him back. The black guy hesitates.

In the racist place and time where these events occurred, a black guy shoving a white guy was potentially a good way to wind up seriously harmed or dead. The point at which the black guy shoves back is the point at which race no longer matters to this team. In spite of the horrendous racist environment in which the team existed, the team itself had gotten past race and become a cohesive whole.

Nothing quite as pleasant and triumphant as that scene is happening on Hacker News today. But amidst a lot of not nice comments, downvotes and the like, someone did basically invite me to "shove back" and someone else emailed me to express support.

I don't recall anything quite like this ever happening before. Someone else also conceded I had a point on one particu…

Imperfect Reflections Pt 3: Jessica Livingston

This was actually going to be Pt 4. But my series stalled for a long list of reasons. And then I saw this today: Y combinator, X chromosomes and I am on a tear. As I said in comments there:

Sounds like a great lead in for "Hey, didja know that one half of the original team that actually founded this is really a woman who kind of isn't getting the credit she really deserves while people run around talking overly much about Da Menz."

To be crystal clear, this isn't really about Jessica Livingston. This is about me and my ideas about my life. It has been delayed in part because I doubted the value of saying it in public. But after reading the above tripe, I think I am going to go ahead and put it out there and let the chips fall where they may.

What follows is an account of the unfolding understanding I had of who Jessica Livingston was and is and why that mattered to me, personally. Due to the subjective nature of the tale, it may well be filled with factual errors a…

PSA: I do not have a martyr complex

I can be generous, long suffering and have a lot of forbearance for certain things. I am slow to judge and I am inclined to err on the side of assuming misunderstanding, etc. rather than pointing fingers.

But it often happens that people conclude this means they can just blithely crap all over me and I will take it indefinitely and continue to be kind, generous etc. Nope. I will not.

One of the best things that came from raising my very challenging children is that it allowed me to make my peace with who I am. I am not broken. Other people are just all kinds of stupid and fucked up.

I like being kind, generous, helpful and trying to do nice things for other people. That in no way means I like being a goddamn doormat or taking abuse.

Apparently most of the planet is incapable of figuring this out. They are just asshats and dumber than dirt and just don't get it.

But it isn't me. What I do works well, if people are not both completely fucked up and also dumber than dirt.

A Free Cup of Coffee

I have been trying to close a safe deposit box long distance. Naturally, this is not exactly a one phone call kind of thing.

I was told that I would need a form from a local bank branch. This turned out to not be true, but it means I went to a local bank branch recently in person to talk to a banker about getting this form.

I went there basically first thing in the morning, not long after they opened. They had free coffee in the waiting area. I got myself a cup.

The thing is that I am still homeless. Most of the free coffee I have had while homeless has been from homeless services centers.

When I had a corporate job, I could also get free coffee in the break room. Middle class and upper class people get a lot of freebies in life. Courtesy items are a pretty routine part of life if you have a job or enough money to be a regular customer or participate in various other types of social connections.

One of the big problems with being homeless is the degree to which you are socially c…


In 2015, it was Turkish men in miniskirts that was a bright spot in my day at a time when I was fed up with the routine man bashing in the world. Today, it is Dutch men holding hands in solidarity to protest the beating of a gay couple.This stuff tickles me pink. This in particular hits a nerve for me because, in high school, I was asked once if I was having a lesbian relationship with my best friend because we held hands walking down the hall at school. No, we aren't gay. We both have German mothers and it isn't weird for women to walk around holding hands in public in our German-American families.Geez.Holding hands is not a sexual act. Come on.So, you go guys.

Obscure Legal Expression: "Kiss on the Wrist"

I was writing some fiction last night. I wanted to use the legal phrase "kiss on the wrist." I was concerned it would be too obscure and no one would understand the meaning, ruining the story.

Googling suggests my suspicion is probably spot on. I probably would have lost my readers.

I was just putting an end to an old story that I have grown bored with, so it wasn't terribly important. I ended up truncating that bit mostly out.

But now I feel the urge to tell the story behind this expression because it seems to not be readily available anywhere online. This article seems to be the best reference, and it really does not do justice to this delightful true story.

Sydney Biddle Barrows was a socialite who could trace her roots to people who came over on The Mayflower. Her family no longer had money, but they had taste and upper class manners and expectations.

She tried to go into fashion. She was working for a time as a buyer at a department store. Someone else came…

Make Sure You Wear a Condom When Posting

When I first joined Hacker News, there was only one man on the leaderboard who consistently spoke with me. I viewed that fact as a big problem.I mean, I viewed it as a problem that he consistently spoke to me. The fact that no one else did made it clear this was aberrant behavior, talking to a newcomer female.It really didn't matter why he talked to me. The reason for it was irrelevant. I was clear this was going to go bad places. It was one of those thorny issues where there was no good answer. I was clear that publicly asking him to stop would make the problem bigger. I was also clear that privately asking him to stop would make the problem bigger.So, I spent about a year doing my best to just quietly walk away from discussion with him. I also put a lot of effort into formatting my comments in a way that I hoped would not draw his replies. In essence, I walked on eggshells.He isn't used to being ignored. He got increasingly grumpy about the situation until he finally picked …

Grumpily Stomps Off FTW!

So, I was commenting on Hacker News the other day. I left some restrained comment in the latest installment of pointlessly measuring "Just how much sexism is there really?" discussions instead of people, you know, doing something about the problem. And someone replied to it, and then I vented a little at him with this comment, which I closed with:
(Throws hands up in air. Grumpily stomps off.)
And then this apparently decent human being went and left a comment in my otherwise essentially ignored query. The two comments there -- but especially his -- are some of the most useful things ever said to me on Hacker News.

Maybe I should stomp off like a grumpy three year old more often.

Anyway, I am working on that project and thank you to the two decent humans who actually fucking* answered my question. It was remarkably useful to me, more than you might think. I am busily working on developing the project in question.


This is being posted to HN in the vague hope that …

But What About The Children?

Yes, I am aware that there is a clear double standard. When you typically hear this question asked, the intent to criticize some woman for having a job or having career aspirations. Men are not subjected to the same thing.

In fact, quite the opposite. When a man has a successful, well paid career, he is viewed as more entitled to a wife and kids. But women are generally expected to choose between the two.

Nonetheless, this is a question that feminists seem to not adequately address. In fact, the framing of most feminists seems to be hypocritically guilty of the same thing it accuses men of: It only views some subset of people as fully human and worth talking about. The children and their caretakers don't count.

The general feminist narrative is very much an upper class narrative. It pushes the idea that upper class women should be able to have serious careers like upper class men. It then largely sweeps under the rug the question of who is raising the children and what about…

Etiquette and Social Friction in Global Spaces

The internet puts people in contact who normally would not be able to rub elbows, so to speak. As just one example of the possible extremes: I am currently homeless and I can talk to very rich, influential people in some online forums where I currently participate. In some cases, they will even speak to me.

It actually goes well beyond that. People from very different countries can talk as well, in real time, daily. I sometimes really struggle to communicate effectively with people from other countries, even if we both speak English as our primary language.

Their experience of life and mine are vastly different. The assumptions they make are very unlike the assumptions I make. This can rapidly go weird places.

But, for the sake of simplicity, lets limit this to class differences.

I think many well-off people are incredibly uncomfortable with me being openly homeless on the internet. It is quite clear to me that some people believe that I speak about my circumstances as a means …

The Long Shadow of Biology and The Past

I have read a lot of stuff over the years, such as about The History of Women's Work, and I have had a class on Women's History, among other things. But a lot of that reading was long ago and far away. I have no plans to try to back up this post with studies or evidence.

This post is my personal opinion.

It is based on many years of reading about the very real challenges women face in life, no matter how good they are or how right they get it. It is also based on many years of thinking through the details as to why my life did not go the way I expected it to when I was a teenager doing well in school and looking forward to a modern life as a liberated woman, part of a two career couple.

(Ha ha. None of that happened. I had a 1950's style marriage, followed by divorce and poverty.)

What I have come to firmly believe is that the traditional gender-based roles where mom is home with the kids and dad is the primary breadwinner is a system that evolved as the least…

The Art of Conversation

My mother is an extremely talkative individual, and she's wicked smart. In fact, both of my parents were wicked smart, but neither of them ever went to college. So the family narrative is that we are just plain folks, nothing special.

Thus, I tend to think all families are like my family of origin in terms of having smart, competent highly communicative and articulate parents, regardless of their educational background. In short, I tend to assume everyone talks intently with their family, just like mine did and just like I continue to do with my adult sons.

It has taken me a lot of years to conclude this is probably not so. Many parents apparently talk at their kids rather than with them. My expectation or assumption that everyone knows how to engage in real conversation seems to be out of touch with reality.

My mother once told me her mother's maiden name started with von. She said it like that should mean a great deal to me. Unfortunately, it didn't.

I did not grow…

Do You Need a Startup Idea? Try Fixing Housing.

I tripped across this article this morning: Fixing housing could bring $300 billion back to US economy, new data show. I then used Bing search to look for variations on it. Surprisingly, there are none. It appears to be one of a kind. So I posted it to Hacker News

Here are some of the U.S.-centric articles I did trip across: Editorial: Making California housing affordable requires new approach

Finding the Missing Middle: Rowhouses, Townhouses, and Seattle’s Affordability Plan

Fixing LA’s Housing Crisis … Cheaper Homes is Not the Answer (There is a lot I don't agree with in this article. I include it here in part because it at least talks about housing affordability as a complex issue, not easily solved. We need more elegant solutions, not mandates of "10% affordable housing in new construction." That seems to not really work.)

But this problem is not limited to the U.S. I found others from around the world:

Why fixing housing is the best medicine
First Nations Are…

The Unfortunate F Word Rears Its Ugly Head

I happened to post this piece to Hacker News: Dystopian dreams: how feminist science fiction predicted the future. Much to my surprise, it showed up briefly on the front page. It then disappeared.

It is a mostly excellent piece of work, other than the slightly ax-grindy "feminist" angle. I suspect that the title got it flagged off the front page, probably by people who didn't even read it. Most likely, they just reacted to the title, flagged it and moved on without a second look.

Hacker News is an overwhelmingly male space. They get tired of the man bashing.

I'm a woman and I get tired of the man bashing. So I am generally pretty sympathetic.

I did email the mods of HN as an FYI. They say they want to see good writing on the front page. This is good writing. No clue if they will change the title to something more palatable for the HN crowd.

The "feminist" thing and the behavior of a lot of women really offends me and grates on my nerves. An awful …

Functional 3D Printing: A Sub-Reddit

I happened to trip across this subreddit: Functional 3D Printing and I was jazzed. I thought I would look for something cool on it to share with Hacker News, but a lot of this is just photos of something someone did plus a title. They aren't necessarily articles.

So, the forum itself is cool. Thus this post directing you to it. I hope you enjoy it.

Some good ones to check out:

This is what 80 hours worth of functional printing look like
My vintage Dietzgen Compass needed a case, so I made a little dovetail box for it.
I made a drawer insert to keep my end mill bits organized at work

This subreddit made me think of the book: FAB: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop--from Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication

The R Word

Here is yet another person suggesting it is okay to force yourself upon someone socially "for their benefit" if they have the right label foisted upon them by society. I did what I typically do in such situations and compared it to rape. They came back to say it was an insulting comparison.Ah, but you wanting to insist people who are different should be forced to fit in against their will is somehow not insulting? Give me a break.I replied with the following:I am unaware of another example that conveys this exact point. I would be thrilled to pieces if someone could suggest another effective example that clearly makes the point that forced social contact is inherently a negative experience, no matter the supposed "good intentions" that justify it.I then thought better of it and deleted it and decided to blog about it instead. I am sure this individual is not actually interested in understanding my point. They have already basically admitted to having zero respect f…

Of Mice and Men

As I write this, I have 18022 karma on Hacker News. Yesterday, someone got banned after making a nasty personal attack against me.

I did not expect them to get banned. I expected the mods to remind them that personal attacks are not okay.

However, this individual apparently has a history. So, the mods decided they had had enough.

If you have your "I see dead people" goggles on for Hacker News, his banned account is responsible for pissing on the mod who banned him and for making yet another attack against me (link, link). So, apparently, it was a good call.

For a time, I had this at the top of my HN profile: Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?

The same thing we do every night, Pinky - try to take over the world! At one time, I even had a link to the scene on Youtube. In case you don't know who Pinky and the Brain are, this is an old cartoon about lab mice. They try every night to take over the world. So, you can infer from that statement that they al…

That's Slumlord-ess, Fool

I have been putting some info together on SROs. That stands for Single Room Occupancy. Before WWII, SROs and boarding houses were commonly available forms of genuinely affordable housing for young single people with entry level jobs. But, most SROs in the U.S. were torn down in the 60s and 70s.These days, most SROs are apparently supportive housing for the mentally ill and chronically homeless. That wasn't always true. It used to be market rate housing for young adults just starting out who couldn't afford much.I think we should bring that back. So, I am having fantasies of doing just that: Get off the street and build a few thousand units of SROs, becoming a real estate tycoon in the process.I figure if there are, say, 2000 homeless people in a city, you need at least 5000 SROs to reduce that by 50 percent or so. Because the first people that move in will not be people who are currently homeless. No, the first occupants would be people living in their parent's basement or…

Blaming the Object of Desire

As noted in a recent post, I participated at one time on a forum where a man alternated between verbally feeling me up and verbally attacking me. I generally preferred it when he was attacking me, in part because it was icky to be publicly felt up by the man. But also in part because whenever he felt me up, his wife would viciously attack me in some other discussion.

So, I was doubly victimized, first by him virtually molesting me and second by her kicking the crap out of me over his bad behavior.

I did not find this man at all attractive. I absolutely was not inviting such attention. I desperately wished he would stop.

This is hardly the only time I have been treated badly by the lady of some jackass who has a thing for me. It boggles my mind that these women attack me and blame me instead of addressing the issue at its source with him.

I probably didn't want your man to begin with. His hard on for me is ZERO evidence that the feeling is mutual. And knowing what a sick bitc…

Helping You Look Your Best

When I was 17, I got romantically involved with my best friend. At that time, he looked like something out of Revenge of the Nerds.

Although he looked truly terrible in the clothes and haircut he had, it didn't bother me. In spite of bad presentation, I could see that he was cute.

But it clearly bothered him and caused social friction for him. It was a personal pain point for him in his life. He clearly was suffering.

So I took him shopping and helped him find more flattering clothes, and I took him to get a haircut. After that, he dressed a lot better and was a lot pickier about who cut his hair.

In our twenties, the moms of friends of mine would say "Wow, what a good looking, sharp-dressed man. I can see why you married him!" In spite of his tendency to try to take credit for everything, he and I would both die laughing whenever this happened because it was simply an absurd thought for both of us.

Then I would say "No, you have that backwards. I didn't…

The History of Women's Work

I read this book years ago and I highly recommend it: More Work For Mother: The Ironies Of Household Technology From The Open Hearth To The Microwave

It covers about 300 years of the history of household technology. I like it in part because it helps explain why certain kinds of work has become "women's work" and why that work is unpaid without being man-bashy.

In a nutshell, modern housework as we know it evolved alongside the development of paid jobs. Until relatively recently, both man and wife worked to literally put food on the table.

Money was not widely available, so most people did not work for money. Certain jobs that had historically been handled by the man of the house got shifted to the wife with the help of new tech, thus freeing him up to get a paid job.

This was not done to oppress women. It was done because it worked well for the family. It allowed the family to raise its quality of life and income at the same time, instead of choosing one or the …

Hello? Did you not get the memo that this is a business?

In response to this mod note on Hacker News, someone replied: Which is disallowed by the site guidelines:

please use the original title, unless it is misleading or linkbait.

The title wasn't misleading or linkbait. It was just bad.

I'm not trying to be overly fastidious to the rules, but you regularly say "No, we have to use the original title" whenever someone tries to use a title that is more descriptive and isn't editorialized compared to the article's title/subtitle. There are good reasons for the existing policy -- the "past" link is currently broken for this article, for example -- so this is an interesting choice.

The new title here is clearly better and should stay. Perhaps you might rethink your stance on all the other titles that are better and should stay? While I was writing my reply, they deleted it. This is why I am blogging -- well, that and the fact that people say inane things like that all the time on Hacker News and it kin…

Women Eat Their Own

As I stated in the opening of a previous post: I have heard for years -- and witnessed for years -- that women (as a group) are our own worst enemy. I recall hearing the phrase "women eat their own" as a tldr of the issue.

I have longstanding, very back burner plans to try to talk about those social dynamics on this blog in the kindest way possible in hopes of empowering women to find a better way... I am currently in a furious rage over bullshit that continues to go on at Metafilter. My experience of Metafilter has improved, but remains remarkably shitastic. I have spent the past few days contemplating writing an incredibly venomous poison pen post here about some of the people there that so enrage me that, at times, I have violent fantasies of them having terrible things happen to them.

This is pretty contrary to my generally compassionate personal bent. It takes a helluva lot to get me there.

The post quoted above was inspired in part by someone who self identified…