maia bittner Avatar
In the quest to understand the human condition, I believe there is one irrefutable truth, everyone loves getting mail. And when it comes to mail, one of the best things I could ever think of receiving is box full of curated jewelry with a note saying, “wear this is for as long as you please.”
Lion March review of RocksBox

I recently joined the BMW car-sharing service DriveNow. It’s currently available in six cities: five in Germany and San Francisco. (The membership usually has a one-time application fee of $39, but it is just $19 through the end of October with promo code ELECTRIC10.)

I joined because I think electric cars are really exciting, and they’re different to drive than gas cars which is fun and novel. As a long-time Zipcar user, I’m familiar with and a fan of short-term car rental. Their ~$9/hour rates make Zipcar best suited to ~1-2 hour shopping trips around town. Since there is an officially-limited-time but apparently indefinite promo going on for DriveNow, it is $30 for 24 hours, which is a great deal. Plus, the cars of much nicer: fancy headlights, satelite radio, and heated seats are all standard. DriveNow trips can be one-way, and start at $12 for the first half hour. They have around six stations downtown and in SoMa, and another station in Palo Alto, at the San Francisco airport, and at the Oakland airport, so I could see taking one to the airport instead of smelly/slow BART or expensive cabs.

I had two friends having a birthday party a couple weeks ago: one during the day in Napa, and one at night in Palo Alto. I decided to rent a BMW in the morning, drive to Napa, leave it charging all day before driving to Palo Alto, let it charge for a couple hours, and then drive home. The range is around 100 miles, depending on driving style, which was conventing for translating percentage of battery left into miles.

Unfortunately, my experience was not quite as smooth. 

The first thing I need to tell you is that the UX of both the site and the mobile app are abysmal. It was incredibly difficult to figure out how to just sign up, and what the details of the program were. It is a far cry from Zipcar in this respect. The app was clearly (aka poorly) mostly translated from German, and every step is slow, and confusing. 

I quickly learned that you can’t reserve cars in advance. Basically, whenever you want to leave, you see which cars are available, book one, and go pick it up. (You can reserve the cars 15 minutes in advance.) BMW touts this as an advantage. There are some parts of this last-minute planning which I appreciate, but it seems like a bad idea to be in a position where you are depending on getting a car. 

I booked a car and went to pick it up at a BMW station. There is an attendant there who can help you get to your car, since they’re often double and triple parked. There were about 6 BMW Active-E’s available in this funny garage down an alleyway in SoMa. We unlocked the car like one unlocks a Zipcar, by holding the membership card to a sensor on the windshield. The car unlocks, and there’s a small Android phone that has the details of your booking and is used as a command center in the car.

We drove over the new Bay Bridge. It took a bit for me to  get used to how rapidly the car decelerated when I took my foot off the “gas”, but it was fun to figure out. We looked up a charging station on an excellent iPhone app I’d downloaded prior to our trip. There was one in a parking garage in Napa, which provided charging for a few hours for free! 

Unfortunately, the cars take about 5 hours to fully charge, which is way too long. We left Napa, and planned on charging at a hotel I’d found with my app. Sadly, we couldn’t get the charger at the hotel to work. So we headed back to Napa, since we were running low on battery and had a reliable charger there. While our car hung out in the garage, we spent a couple more hours wandering downtown Napa and getting dinner. When the car was almost finished charging, we headed south (again) for Palo Alto. We made it as far as El Cerrito before the battery was around 10% and I got nervous. We stopped at the town hall to juice up for 45 minutes or so while we got a snack at a random sushi restaurant nearby.

With it getting late and our battery sad and quite low, we came up with a creative but slightly more expensive plan. We decided to swap cars at the nearby Oakland airport DriveNow station. We returned our car, ending our $30 reservation, and booked a (fully charged!) car there. Switching into our new, identical car, we continued onto Palo Alto, where we parked the car in a spot in a downtown Palo Alto public parking garage.

We drove up to San Francisco after the party, and parked in SF General Hospital’s garage, where they had five charging stations for electric cars! It fully charged staying there over night, and since I still had it the next day, I drove around and explored.

I feel like the different, specific pricing on BMW’s DriveNow program makes it really appropriate for some situations… but I can’t put my finger on what they would be. I think taking it on weekend trips far away isn’t appropriate because of the short range on the cars, but they’re so expensive that it doesn’t seem to make sense for short trips. Is there a situation in which you need a car for a long time but don’t need to drive a long way? Let me know if you have any ideas!

RocksBox’s mission

I’m passionate about helping women look good without draining their energy (or bank accounts!). RocksBox recently held a contest on corporette where readers could enter by saying where they would wear the jewelry. I wanted to share some of my favorite responses because they make me smile :)

  • Trying online dating for the first time this year–need something sparkly to wear on dates :)
  • I’d wear the jewelry to work of course, I am a Judge so I can wear as much bling as I want (without looking too mugable of course).
  • I would wear these pieces to work (a creative field), especially since I just learned how to correctly apply makeup (I was, apparently, absent during that part of high school — just bought my first-ever foundation, eye makeup and brushes last week!) and I’ve been feeling like I’m finally taking charge of my outward appearance — finally the outside matches the inside!
  • After hearing my Aunt say her one regret in life was “saving” her china and jewelry for special occasions only, I would wear new jewelry anywhere and everywhere!
  • To after-work galas. I am starting a new role where I have to network with board members and bring in new donors so I’d like my jewelry to make a statement and help me hold my own with our board members
  • Boring yes, but I would use these as pieces to pull together my boring, budget friendly work wardrobe. I’ve been feeling very blah about it lately, and don’t want to buy new stuff “until I lose weight!!!”, so having some nice jewelry would make me feel significantly better.
  • I’m in a post-wedding/honeymoon spending freeze, and struggling to find ways to make my work wardrobe more interesting. Having a rotating supply of fun jewelry would be a great way to keep things fun!
  • Agreed! Work would be fabulous since I am just coming back from maternity leave and would really like to spruce things up a bit since I am losing weight and can’t afford new clothes too frequently.
  • I have a metal allergy so I never really learned how to style myself properly. I would wear the pieces everywhere I go! 
  • I’d wear new jewelry everywhere, since I’m just now figuring out that A) I need jewelery and B) how to style it.
  • Everywhere! Jewelry is my favorite way to make my boring old clothes interesting again!
  • With a new promotion, I have been trying to update my business wardrobe and jewlery has been an afterthought. I would love to have some rotating jewelry options to help look the part in my new role!
  • I was recently told I would benefit from adding some “feminine touches” to my wardrobe :( I work in a conservative field and dress accordingly. If I have the opportunity, I’ll wow my friends and co-workers by wearing these sparkly beauties with everything!
  • I’m starting a new job that is requiring me to invest in my first business professional wardrobe. I’m thinking I should invest in some new jewelry to match my new threads, and it’d be fun to try a variety of things out to help me figure out what I like.
  • I’ve made a promise to myself to wear at least one piece of jewelry each day at work (earrings, necklace, or bracelet). I am STRUGGLING with that promise and my current jewelry box and budget–this would help out!
  • I would wear the jewelry on date nights with my hubby. Our baby is 8 months old and we are finally ready to hire a sitter and have a romantic night out, and it would be fun to wear some sparkly jewelry on those occasions.
  • I’m on maternity leave, so I’d wear it with my yoga pants and giant comfy sweater while being thrown up on my a newborn. No reason not to look good!
  • As a furloughed government employee, I would wear the ‘rocks’ back to work to make everyone wonder what I did during the government closure!
  • I work in a not very exciting office (what can I say- pest control is not glamorous!) and would love to access different pieces to spruce up my wardrobe and make me happy to put on something nice in the morning.
  • I got my ears pierced for the first time last year at age 29 and got some cheap-os from Claire’s to get me started. I’ve added a few classier pieces but I’m a little paralyzed by necklace and earring matching and could really use the help of having someone else send me coordinated jewelry sets!
  • I would wear it to an event next month where I will be face to face with my ex-fiancé for the first time since the wedding was cancelled.
  • I’d wear it to my parent’s house so for once my mom can borrow my jewelry!
  • I’d wear them to my glass-ceiling shattering meetings, during my mind blowing intimate sessions, and OMG pretty rocks!
Libraries are a haven where people should be able to seek whatever information they want to pursue without any threat of government intervention.

Joan Airoldi, the director of the Whatcom County Library System

Much of my growing up took place in the adorably tiny Deming Library, in the very northwest corner of the United States. When Airoldi refused to release information about patrons to the FBI acting under the Patriot Act, she received national recognition, and the Deming Library was called The Little Library That Wouldn’t.

Free Camping in Big Sur

I just wanted to write a quick post to recommend what I think are the nicest campsites in Big Sur. They’re on BLM land, which means that they are primative: no bathrooms, no showers, no reservations, no fees (and, usually no fires in the summer in Big Sur). Perfect for last-minute, commitment-phobic me.

They’re also beautiful, secluded, and easily available.  I just stayed in one on Friday night of Memorial Day Weekend, when every campground in Big Sur was totally booked up. (On Saturday/Sunday night, we glamped at Treebones Resort; see pictures here)

You can technically camp out wherever, but there are sites that have been leveled for campers and have tent sites and campfire rings. I made a map of a few of these sites that I’m familiar with here. They’re all off Nacimiento-Fergusson Road and South Coast Ridge Road; I believe there are many roads off Hwy 1 in Big Sur that it’s legal to camp at. 

Interested? You should go! Some more information is available here, or, you know, just drop me a line.


How Not to Die

Young in affect and appearance, Volandes, 41, is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School; Davis, also an M.D., is doing her residency in internal medicine, also at Harvard. When I heard about Volandes’s work, I suspected he would be different from other doctors. I was not disappointed. He refuses to let me call him “Dr. Volandes,” for example. Formality impedes communication, he tells me, and “there’s nothing more essential to being a good doctor than your ability to communicate.” More important, he believes that his videos can disrupt the way the medical system handles late-life care, and that the system urgently needs disrupting.

Etsy’s seen the most success when there’s either zero or two women engineers on a team…because if there’s only one, she’s a woman engineer as opposed to just an engineer.

How Etsy Grew their Number of Female Engineers by Almost 500% in One Year

I’ve been super-impressed with the work Kellan & Marc have led at Etsy to improve diversity on their engineering teams over the last year or two. They’ve pioneered smart, non-patronising and innovative approaches, and have shared their learnings for those of us who want to do more at our own companies.

I will openly admit that it’s only in the last few years that I’ve truly understood the white-male privilege that I’m genetically blessed with. I can pinpoint the exact moment it dawned on me.

Late 2009, I was trying to poach a former co-worker to join my team at Slide. Toward the end of lunch, she asked me “How many female engineers do you have?” I paused, pretty instantly doing the mental arithmetic that the answer was zero1. “Well, there aren’t any on our team,” I hedged, “but in QA…”

“QA doesn’t count.” was her entirely valid reply. (And frankly, at that moment, I think there was only one female QA engineer anyway.)2

And there it was: That initial realisation that, for all white-male techies like to believe things in our industry are pure meritocracy, women (and other underrepresented groups in our industry) have extra things to think about when considering jobs — questions that don’t even vaguely pass by my subconscious. Etsy are doing us a great service by tracking, examining and sharing some of these.

Recruiting engineers is tough, even if you’re perfectly happy with a room full of twenty-something guys with plaid shirts, Threadless t-shirts and Warby Parker glasses. But what Etsy is proving is that the initial upfront pain of “How do we actively and publicly prove we want more diversity?” brings you a multitude more résumés, options and talent down the line.

And it makes our industry better.


  1. In its six years from incubation to acquisition, out of probably a total of 150 who passed through its doors, Slide had a grand total of zero female software engineers. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Embarrassing, but not particularly atypical. 

  2. A few months later, my friend joined Google, and specifically talked about how excited she was to work with a shitload of smart, female engineers. 

(via rodbegbie)

Sex as Work and Sex Work

I loved her book Sex at the Margins


A brilliant piece by the ever sardonic and witty Laura Augustín about the various dimensions of sex work.

The Psychology of Regifting

cause I’m always interested in science around gifting

Why I love One Medical Group

I’ve been a member of One Medical, a “boutique medical practice” since the beginning of 2012. and, I love it. Here are some of the experiences I’ve had with them that make me so fond of them.

It makes sense if you don’t have insurance

This year I had a health insurance plan with a somewhat high deductible ($1500), as I often do. The first time I went to One Medical, they negotiated their rate with my health insurance (as is standard) and I received a bill in the mail for $275 several months later. Sure. I guess it feels ok to know that that $275 is counting towards my deductible, but I doubted I’d use more than $1500 in medical care this year, so my insurance wouldn’t ever pay anything. 

Often at medical practices, if you have a high deductible health insurance plan and pay for all of your medical care yourself, the amount you pay is lower than if you don’t have health insurance. This is because your insurance company has negotiated a lower rate for services from your provider. It is something that makes me very angry in life; ask me about it sometime and I will yell about it to you.

At One Medical, that’s not the case. I learned on my second visit that, rather than billing my health insurance and paying the negotiated rate, I have the option to just pay One Medical $100 directly. It doesn’t count towards my deductible so I am, in effect, betting against using more than $1500 in health care for this year. $100 seems like a very reasonable amount to pay for a doctor’s visit and in fact, about how much I want to pay for a doctor’s visit. I’m delighted to pay it, and I appreciate the mystery being taken out of how much a doctor’s visit might cost.

[details on using One Medical without health insurance]

If you have decent health insurance, One Medical probably accepts that in a normal fashion. [accepted health insurance plans]

Care takes place outside of the office

Earlier this year, I suspected I had a UTI, so I booked an appointment with my nurse practitioner at One Medical. She called me up on the phone a bit later to triage my symptoms. I told her that I think I had jumped the gun a little bit and don’t actually think I have a UTI. She said that that was great, and that I should wait until just before my scheduled appointment time to cancel it — One Medical doesn’t have cancellation fees. That way, if I do have symptoms, I’ll have my appointment still, and if I don’t, I won’t unnecessarily go in. I’ve never been told to wait to cancel an appointment before! It really made me feel as though my health was most important here — something that cancellation fees at other providers do not make me feel.

They’re Online

I can interact with One Medical the way I interact with every other part of my life.  I’ve emailed them medical records from other practices for them to add to my chart. They’ve sent me my test results as PDF attachments over email. I can schedule (and cancel!) appointments online — as well as renew prescriptions. [other actions available online]

They’re On Time

Appointments are not only on-time, but they’re fast as well. At other doctor’s, I feel like I wait at every step — wait on the phone, wait in the waiting room, wait in the examination room, see the doctor, wait in the examination room again. At One Medical, I’m talking to someone the whole time I’m there — and I’m often in and out in less than 30 minutes. Oh and they do same-day appointments too, though I rarely need them.

Membership at One Medical cost $150/year (some companies, like Yelp, pay this for their employees as part of their health care packaging). This fee covers care that health insurance companies won’t pay for — like phone calls — and so I’m happy to pay it. Most of my health concerns are me thinking “Should I worry about this?”. I love that calling my doctor to see if I should come in or not is included with my membership. 

So that’s why I love One Medical. If you live in a major city and are interested in improving your experiences with our horrendous health care system, I recommend checking them out. 

Previously, I’ve mentioned that free-coffee postcards from my dad were some of the best gifts I’ve ever received, so I’m very sad to see them go :(

Previously, I’ve mentioned that free-coffee postcards from my dad were some of the best gifts I’ve ever received, so I’m very sad to see them go :(

Bay Area Feminism Today

Yesterday I went to a panel hosted by the SF Bay Guardian. The panel members were the same as those featured in their Faces of Feminism cover story last week. Here are some notes on a couple things that stood out to me. 

The first was during the introductions. It was 7 women on the panel; I think 5 identified as queer. (As much as I want to just be cool and queer like all my friends, I’m not, and I just can’t help who I am!) I wasn’t sure how much I’d be able to relate to them because I feel like my life is surrounded by guys: I mostly work with men, I date men, I hang out with men and I’ve taken many classes where I’m the only woman. Because I’m so immersed in dude culture, I’m really interested in feminism as it relates to interpersonal relationships and shifting (abolishing?) gender roles — and disappointingly, this panel didn’t speak much to that. 

One question the panel was asked was “What’s something that has given you hope for feminism?” The response I really liked was Alix Rosenthal's. She said that Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin gave her hope. Historically, the first gay candidates, the first black candidates, the first candidates of any minority had to be five times better than their opposition, in order to compensate for being black, for being gay, for being female. In Alix's words “Sarah Palin is not five times better than anyone”. To her, the fact that we, as a country, could have incompetent women competing at the same level as incompetent men was an indicator that we're moving to a level playing field. (Definitely my words now)

Later, Alix said “It’s been an hour and a half, and I can’t believe no one’s mentioned  Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article in the Atlantic!”. She then said that what she got out of the article was that we have structural deficiencies in our country that prevent people — both men and women — from having the life they want and devoting attention to whatever things matter to them. Things like universal health care, universal child care, etc. would contribute.

This segues nicely into a contradiction Laura Thomas brought up several times that also resonated strongly with me. The conflict is between devoting resources to women specifically, carving out space for them, listening to them, etc., and moving away from gender-based politics. Many issues traditionally thought of as women’s issues: Sex work, domestic violence, custody rights, etc. apply to both men and women, and it’s harmful to act as though they were just women’s issues. The opposite is true too — things like labor rights, tenants’ rights, and immigration aren’t usually thought of as women’s issues, though they may disproportionally affect women. All this makes gender-based politics seem absurd… and then I think of affirmative action, and how much I love it. And how it’s a kind of screwed up way to respond to a very screwed up system. (My roommate Avery brought up that our alma mater, the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, heavily recruited women to create ~50% gender balance in its formative years — unheard of in engineering colleges. Now, just ~10 years after the first class started, they don’t need to specifically target women, because they’ve created an environment that attracts them). 

Anyway, these are my quick scattered notes, mostly for me to remember a couple things I want to mull over.