Mighty Life List
Oct 23 2014

E-Bikes, I Want One

Bosch sponsored this post, but the enthusiasm is mine.

A few months ago Bosch sent me to The New Wheel to borrow an e-bike for the day.

I’d never heard of an e-bike, but they’re bikes with electric motors. Riding one is a lot like riding a regular bicycle, you have to pedal and you still get exercise, but you can set the motor to give you a boost when you’re climbing a hill, or getting tired from riding a long distance, or coming home from eating a lot of pasta.

None of this meant much to me until I was climbing vertical San Francisco hills like Wonder Woman on an adrenal high.

Guys, I have worn some adventure helmets in my day, but this was incredible. I don’t even like to walk up those hills, but biking up made me feel like I should be holding a tiny parasol and waving at passersby.

We biked places I would never take a regular bike — over massive hills in Pacific Heights and out to the Golden Gate bridge, up Telegraph Hill to Coit Tower, and right through the nightmarish traffic on Fisherman’s Wharf. We even climbed the massive Potrero Hill to see the city lights. In 15 years living in the city, I’ve never seen as much of it in one day. It was so much fun!

This guy wrote a piece on Medium about why he sold his car for an e-bike, and I was doing the same calculations in my head as we rode around.

Karen, who owns The New Wheel with her husband, loaned us the bike and led the way. She told me that lots of their customers are buying e-bikes to replace cars — new ones run about $3,500 and up.

While we rode around, Bosch asked me to catalogue some of my favorite places in San Francisco that are harder to access by car. So check that out if you’re interested.

And if anyone ever asks you if you want to try an e-bike, do it. And then keep it.

Oct 13 2014

Safety Online for Women

The Unsafety Net: How Social Media Turned Against Women Excerpts from an in-depth article in The Atlantic on the failure of social media companies to address safety issues for women.

“In my five years on Twitter, I’ve been called ‘nigger’ so many times that it barely registers as an insult anymore,” explains attorney and legal analyst Imani Gandy. “Let’s just say that my ‘nigger cunt’ cup runneth over.”

In an increasing number of countries, rapists are now filming their rapes on cell phones so they can blackmail victims out of reporting the crimes.

A Facebook user posted a video documenting the gang rape of a woman by the side of a road in Malaysia. The six minutes of graphic footage were live for more than three weeks, during which Facebook moderators declined repeated requests for removal. It had been viewed hundreds of times before a reader of Soraya’s forwarded the video to [us] with a request for help. We notified a contact on Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board, and only then was the video taken offline.

When it comes to copyright and intellectual property interests, companies are highly responsive… But, says Jan Moolman, who coordinates the Association of Progressive Communications’s women’s rights division, “‘garden variety’ violence against women—clearly human rights violations—frequently get a lukewarm response until it becomes an issue of bad press.”

Soraya, Bates, and Jaclyn Friedman, the executive director of Women, Action, and Media, a media justice advocacy group, joined forces and launched a social media campaign designed to attract advertisers’ attention. The ultimate goal was to press Facebook to recognize explicit violence against women as a violation of its own prohibitions against hate speech, graphic violence, and harassment. Within a day of beginning the campaign, 160 organizations and corporations had co-signed a public letter, and in less than a week, more than 60,000 tweets were shared using the campaign’s #FBrape hashtag. Nissan was the first company to pull its advertising dollars from Facebook altogether.

Southworth calls [Facebook’s] representatives “thoughtful, passionate, concerned, and straddling the line between free speech and safety.” But, sometimes, progress feels slow. “The teams who handle these cases are just swamped,” she explained.

Researchers and industry experts are beginning to consider the effects of that context. Ninety percent of tech employees are men. At the most senior levels, that number goes up to 96 percent. Eight-nine percent of startup leadership teams are all male.

It’s not hard to imagine how unconscious biases might affect systems architecture, including the ways companies handle moderation requests.

Oct 7 2014

Non-Fugly Storage Bins that Aren’t Plastic

I have an open shelf that needs storage, and was having trouble finding some not ugly, not plastic bins. I wanted these woven felt baskets, but they were out of the size I needed (and were a little pricey), so I ended up going with the top option below.

If you’re looking for storage solutions yourself, here’s what I picked plus some others I was considering:

Jute Bins with Rope Handles from The Container Store , $17-$25

Industrial Shelf Baskets from Restoration Hardware, $45

Felt Bins from The Land of Nod, $20

Other good options:

Metallic Woven Baskets $29-$119 Love these, and would have gone with them if they’d been anywhere near the right size.
Canvas Mega Sorter, $25 These are huge and have subdividers great for storing kids’ toys, art supplies, etc.
Crated Office Collection, $29-$59 These were the only wood option I liked.
Wire Mesh Storage, $39 These would be cool to hold staples like toilet paper or paper towels.
Modern Weave Oversize Storage Bin, $89 Huge and good for open storage because you can’t see through them.

Oct 1 2014

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Hey look, it’s a contemporary author who has me waiting for her next novel. That doesn’t happen often.

I recently read Maggie’s Astonish Me, and while we wait for her next book, I thought I’d post my favorite parts of her first book, Seating Arrangements:

How had she, Biddy, managed to raise someone so exposed and defenseless, a charred moth, a turtle without a shell, exactly the kind of woman she most feared to be?

“Hey, I’m not a member of this Great Gastby reenactment society you all have going on. I just think it’s possible to trick yourself into feeling better by pretending you feel better.”

While Winn believed that worthwhile young men must be carefree, he also believed that worthwhile grown men must bear up under the burden of respectability. He puzzled over when exactly the music should be stopped and the drunks sent home and the crepe paper swept from the floors to make room for cribs and Labradors. Is it now? he wondered as he set down his drink and turned from a conversation with a beautiful girl to vomit into the swimming pool of his friend Tyson Baker. When he heard some months later that Tyson Baker had died during a game of pond hockey, dropping through the ice like a lead weight, he thought, Is it now?

Underneath her wedding dress Biddy wore a white garter belt and stockings that he found unbearably sexy but did not tell her so, not wanting to embarrass her by making a fuss and also incorrectly assuming she had a whole trousseau of lingerie that she would, without prompting, trot out over their first year. Silence over stockings — the first regret of his marriage.

She was so entirely the kind of person he should be married to that he loved her, in part, out of gratitude for her very appropriateness.

Spending so much time with the Van Meters was like returning to a cherished childhood home and discovering that either her memory had been wrong or time had taken its toll, and the place was not magical or special at all but ordinary, flawed — a revelation doubly offensive because it made a certain swath of past happiness seem cheap, the product of ignorance.

Dominique peeled the label from her beer while Dicky Jr. talked, her head angled toward him to suggest she was listening.


Aubusson rug – floor covering, usually of considerable size, handwoven at the villages of Aubusson and Felletin, in the département of Creuse in central France. Workshops were established in 1743 to manufacture pile carpets primarily for the nobility, to whom the Savonnerie court production was not available. Aubusson carpets were, however, also made for the royal residences.

gliss – In music, a glissando is a glide from one pitch to another. It is an Italianized musical term derived from the French glisser, to glide. In some contexts it is distinguished from the continuous portamento. Some colloquial equivalents are slide, sweep, bend, or ‘smear’.