Archive for May, 2009

New dating site for the single and self-employed

One of the unforeseen challenges of this recession is that people are not only losing their jobs (and their income), they’re losing their convenient social circles, as well. Suddenly, thousands of singles are working at home and/or starting their own businesses, which usually means long days, limited free time and little to no outside contact (except for the UPS man).

How are you supposed to meet someone interesting and of your ilk when you’re spending all your time slaving over a hot laptop or building an entrepreneurial empire out in the garage?

As luck would have it, there’s a new online dating site for the single and self-employed.  MatchmakingInc.com touts itself as the place where “single entrepreneurs and business owners connect,” a dating site offering the busy self-employed professional the “opportunity to connect with others who understand and appreciate the unique challenges of self-employment” (i.e., 38-hour days).  

Sadly, though, when I logged in, there was no one to connect to.

No single Seattle business owners or entrepreneurs age 40 – 55.  Nor age 35 – 60. I couldn’t even find a breathing bipedal male aged 18 to 80. Of course, the site is brand spanking new and as the FAQ page puts it, “while our membership is growing, there will be areas with few members.” Unfortunately, even searching nationwide with the parameters cranked all the way open, I only found 12 single men (and 14 single women).

Guess everybody’s too busy making money to think about making love.  Or else they’re opting for Plan B — waiting for love to just show up on their doorstep. Speaking of which, I’ve got to run. I think I hear the hunky UPS man.

Yes, there’s an app for that, too

are-you-appnoxiousMy story on “appnoxious” smartphone users went live today on MSNBC.com. In a nutshell, the story’s about people who’ve become so enamored by all their fancy phone applications that they’re driving everyone around them insane. Or as I put it in my reported piece:

Thanks to a wave of popular new apps, our phones are now capable of passing gas, passing judgment, and annoying our friends, family and colleagues in a much more efficient, high-tech manner. They’ve also granted us the power to instantly correct — and/or alienate — anyone around us in a matter of seconds because of Web access at our fingertips. “I was at a restaurant with friends and said something about Ralph Macchio being in a movie and pretty soon somebody’s got IMDb (the Internet Movie Database Web site) out on their phone and they’re looking it up,” says Jonathan Acuff, a 33-year-old copywriter from Alpharetta, Ga. “You can’t casually say, ‘I kind of like that guy in that movie’ anymore unless you’re sure he was in it. Now they look it up and somebody else looks it up and they’re like, ‘You’re wrong.’ ”

I didn’t include info on this in the story, but there are also a slew of new mobile phone dating apps. Speeddate.com, which offers 3-minute online speed dates using instant messaging or live video has just come out with a new free downloadable Android app (apparently there’s an iPhone app already) that allows people to speed date through their smartphone as opposed to their computer.

Other mobile dating apps include BumpChat 1.1, a new “location-aware” mobile dating and chat application for the iPhone, and Are You Interested? an iPhone application for mobile dating that ties in with the AYI? website and Facebook Connect integration. Whatever the hell that means.

Also just released (and you knew this was coming): 140love.com, a new Twitter-based dating service, where you can sign up, peruse members’ online dating profiles and see if anybody’s  140-character communication stream sets your heart “a twitter”.

If it just me or does it seem like we should all save ourselves a lot of time and trouble and just start having sex with our computers? My guess is there’s an app for that, too.

Happy Mother’s Day, Viva

viva-mapesA week or so ago, I took a break from my usual reported stories on health, lifestyle and dating issues to write a personal essay about losing my mom — and finding her again in my four sisters. The essay went live today – Mother’s Day — on MSNBC.com. Here’s a link.

As I mentioned in the piece, my mom was quite a character. She loved to laugh, loved to cook and especially loved gathering her five daughters (and their husbands and kids) around her. Family get-togethers at the Mapes house were raucous affairs: barking dogs, squawking birds, screaming kids, clanging pots and pans, loud laughter, a blaring TV, and somebody inevitably pounding on that one lone bathroom door.

I miss it like crazy. I miss her like crazy. Thanks to the cookbook Viva gave me in 1998, though, I’m able to at least conjure up some of the wonderful dishes she served up for her “girls” during those infamous family dinners. Today, in honor of my mom and mothers everywhere, I thought I’d pass along Viva’s recipe for what my sisters and I used to call “Moldy Green Salad” when we were little.

Back then, none of us would touch this light green concoction save my sister Mary, who was always pretty fearless. Since we’ve gotten older, though, we’ve all learned to love “MGS” and it’s now a regular part of our holiday lineup. You may want to add it to yours since, as my mom notes in the cookbook, “it goes good with turkey.”

Molded Green Salad  “Mary’s favorite recipe”
Note to readers: My mom would usually include a brief notation as to who liked what with each recipe. One of my favorite notations, under Margaritas, simply reads “Mark likes.”

1 small package lemon Jell-O
1 small package lime Jell-O

Dissolve above in 2 cups boiling water. Stir well and cool. Mix together in a large bowl:

1 # carton cottage cheese
1 # can crushed pineapple
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup whipped cream (unwhipped)
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon horseradish (note: I never include this)
Dash of salt

Add cooled Jell-O to above mix. Mix well. Pour into rectangle Pyrex pan. Let set in refrigerator overnight. Serve with ripe olives on bed of lettuce.

And, of course, lots of love. My mom always did.

Hurray, hurray for the 8th of May!

from-here-to-eternityWondering why so many people have a mischievous twinkle in their eye today? Could be they’re contemplating how they’re going to celebrate National Outdoor Intercourse Day (Hurray, Hurray for the 8th of May!).

According to a story in The Easterner, Eastern Washington University’s student newspaper, National Outdoor Intercourse Day has been around since the early 1960s and most likely originated in the state of Washington, where there are more than enough rhododendron bushes and fir trees (watch those needles!) to accommodate a bit of outdoor fun.

Of course, not everyone feels obliged to wait around for the 8th of May (or the 69th of March, as some people prefer to call it). In April of this year, a couple was caught having sex on the grounds of Windsor Castle. That’s right, the Queen’s lawn. Blatantly ignoring signs asking visitors to Please Keep Off the Grass (not to mention their significant other), a man and woman, said to be in their early 30s, found a cozy spot near the castle’s Garter Tower, stripped down to their birthday suits and started having a jolly good time.

Needless to say, the couple’s coupling caused quite a stir, drawing a crowd from the nearby Harte and Garter Hotel and prompting a number of tourists to capture the act on video. After 10 to 15 minutes, police arrived and the couple was arrested and cautioned for “outraging pubic decency.” Hold on, make that public decency.

Can’t get enough stories about people having sex in inappropriate places? I’ve actually written about this a couple of times in my Seattle P-I Single Shot columns. Check out the links here and here.

New study ties stress to dating violence

I see a lot of news releases about dating each week and none are more depressing than the ones dealing with dating violence. Our country is lousy with it and there’s even been a recent upswing in dating violence among teens.

According to the Family Violence Prevention Fund, approximately 1 in 3 adolescent girls in the U.S. has been physically, emotionally or verbally abused by a partner. One in three, folks. As in, if you have three daughters, one of them has been pushed around by her boyfriend (or girlfriend).  And nearly 1 in 10 high school students has been hit, slapped or physically hurt by a partner.

Advocates against domestic and dating violence are constantly searching for answers as to why this is happening. Is it the graphically-violent video games? The casual violence we see in movies and TV? Is it that damned teen vampire series, Twilight?!?

A new study released by the University of New Hampshire suggests it’s something else entirely: stress.

According to a study of more than 14,000 students from 68 universities in 32 countries, Dr. Murray Straus, professor of sociology and co-director of the UNH Family Research Laboratory, found that the more stress experienced by students, the greater the probability they had hit a dating, cohabiting or marital partner.

Specifically, Straus and his team of researchers found that the relation between stress and violence was:

• A global phenomenon. In every country around the world, in both developed and developing nations, stressed-out partners resort to beating each other.
• A unisex phenomenon. Men are hitting women and women are hitting men.
• An everyday phenomenon. It’s not just major traumatic events that trigger the violence but everyday stuff like being pressured by friends to do things and/or living in housing that’s noisy or rundown.
• A ripple-effect phenomenon. The effects of stress experienced in childhood carry over to adulthood, researchers found. Students who went through the stress of being spanked or hit a lot by parents before age 12 were more likely to hit a dating partner than other students.

While it’s nice to see someone doing a study on the causes of dating and domestic violence (a term I’ve never liked since it always sounds like you’re being assaulted by your vacuum cleaner and not your partner), I have to say I’m discouraged by these findings. Especially since here in the U.S. alone, we’re stressed to the max with two wars, a recession, a health care crisis, a banking crisis, massive unemployment, global warming, and now this whole swine flu thing.

Where do we stand when it comes to the international stress-and-violence scale? According to the research, the U.S. is #12 out of 32 countries on the highest to lowest stressful conditions list (Taiwan, South Korea and China are the top three). And we’re #17 out of 32 on the overall assault rate list (Iran, Mexico and Great Britain top the chart).  FYI, the least likely place to get beat up by a partner appears to be Sweden, which comes in at the bottom of both the overall assault and overall serious assault rate list and is near the end of the stressed-out countries queue, as well. 

I suppose the good news in all this is that thanks to the education and awareness efforts of groups like the Family Violence Prevention Fund and Break the Cycle, more and more people are learning about dating violence and its growing prevalence among teens. Which means more and more people are working hard to punch its lights out, kick it to the curb, stop it once and for all.  

Considering the extent to which casual violence permeates our culture, our entertainment and even our language, though, we’ve got our work cut out for us.


What’s the story?

Meet Diane Mapes, your friendly neighborhood freelance writer. My regular beats include health, lifestyle and singles issues, but I also love writing about history, natural history, pop culture and TV/film. On this site, you'll find links to my latest stories, media appearances, and, yes, a bit of social commentary on the single life. Also here, info on upcoming classes and events, a library of clips, and a few shameless plugs about my books (hint: see links below). Have fun, glad you're here and hope to hear from you soon.

Oh! And if you're looking for my breast cancer blog, go to Double_Whammied

Check out my books!

How to Date in a Post-Dating World A dating manual for the modern, mangled single.

Single State of the Union
Single women speak out on life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

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