Archive for the 'Weird news o’ the day' Category

Are you a spreadsheet dater?

I got an email the other day from a writer from some British magazine, asking me if I had ever interviewed anyone who’d used an Excel spreadsheet for dating. She’d read one of the stories I’d written about how to keep your dates straight and was hoping I could connect her with a spreadsheet dater.

I didn’t think much of it until I got online and I stumbled onto a slew of stories about Excelgate (Spreadgate? Dategate?), the latest dating scandal to rock the online dating world.

Apparently, some poor sap back in New York (aka David Merkur, a 28-year-old banker with a thing for organization), made the mistake of telling a woman he was out with that he kept all of his online dating activity in an Excel spreadsheet. And not just any spreadsheet — one that featured names, email addresses, photos, 0-10 rankings for “online appearance,” comments regarding communication, reviews about meet-ups, etc.

That in and of itself isn’t completely over-the-top. A little wonky and anal, perhaps, but not downright stupid. But then Merkur’s date de jour asked if he would forward her the file (apparently, they were both heavy Excel users), and he did.

And that’s when the sheet started to hit the fan.

The date de jour promptly forwarded the eerily-detailed spreadsheet onto a few friends, who sent it on to their friends, until the whole thing ended up on Jezebel, ABC News, the TODAY show, The Huffington Post, and, who knows, maybe Portlandia sometime in the near future (“Put a spreadsheet on it!”)

According to the latest, one of the Merkur’s many potential online dates is even considering legal action, not against the banker but against Miss Trustworthy, the woman who spread the spreadsheet around, since it’s causing the woman so much grief. Apparently, Miss Trustworthy failed to redact any personal information like real names, phone numbers, email addresses, etc. before she forwarded it to, oh, I don’t know, 6,000,000 of her closest personal friends.  

“I’ve gotten a lot of calls from random people saying, ‘Oh, you’re the 9.5,'” the woman told ABC News, referring to the high rating Merkur gave her on his spreadsheet. “I think the guy is really nice,” she goes on. “I never met him and I don’t think he did something that bad. He was … trying to keep himself organized … ” As for the woman who sent out the cheat sheet, though, “Why would she send it to the whole world?” the woman wanted to know. “It was a really stupid move. My face is plastered everywhere now. I wasn’t looking for that. I was just thinking that I was using Match.com.”

Needless to say, a pro-spreadsheet dating movement is now gaining ground. In today’s New York Daily News, writer Porter Kaplan outed himself and his own obsessive-compulsive dating habits, admitting that he not only uses a spreadsheet for dating, but “I have spreadsheets to track my finances, the books I’ve read, the countries I’ve visited and which combinations of friends might enjoy a dinner party together.”

I don’t date enough to use a spreadsheet — or pie chart or Venn diagram — but I’ve definitely talked to highly organized types who either keep a spreadsheet or a private journal or a Word doc or some kind of cheat sheet to keep from getting their firefighters and financiers mixed up (as if). If you’re a serious online dater (i.e., you’re meeting new people at least three times a week), you have to have some kind of system even if it’s a Sharpie scrawl on the palm of your hand. Otherwise you end forgetting names and occupations or the fact that your date’s grandmother/sister/pet just died or celebrated their 75th birthday or is currently on Dancing with the Stars and end up looking — and feeling — like a jerk.

Personally, I don’t think it’s particularly creepy or douchy to keep track of your dating info — even subjective info like “nice face and bod” but “very jappy; one and done for me” (comments gleaned from Merkur’s detailed notes). Nor is that weird to add overly anal touches like color coding and bold-faced type to indicate particularly hot prospects.  The important thing is to make sure your little black book — or little black spreadsheet — stays safely tucked away in your hard drive, your underpants drawer, or your brain if you have trust issues (which my guess a lot of single software engineers and banking dudes are now experiencing).

Unless, of course, going viral with your love life is part of your master plan of getting more dates. In that case, my hat’s off to you, Spreadsheet Guy! Way to work the system. ; )

Do you Excel at dating? Or know someone who does? If so, I’d love to hear about it (as would at least one British journalist!).

The doomsdating machine

Maybe it’s just me, but there’s nothing I like more than a niche dating site, especially one that caters to a particularly obscure slice of singles.

In the past, I’ve written about green dating sites like GreenSingles.com, which caters to the eco-friendly crowd, and DarwinDating.com, devoted exclusively to the beautiful people of the world. (Just checked the link to this one and it no longer works — so much for their motto about “only the hottest surviving.”)

I’ve covered dating sites designed for older singles, dating sites made for single parents and dating sites built just for booklovers and brainiacs.

Thanks to a recent story on CNN.com, though, I may have stumbled onto the weirdest niche yet: survivalist singles sites. Check it out.

For people who spend every day preparing for disaster — whether it’s a 2012 apocalypse, a nuclear meltdown, an economic collapse, a hurricane or a tsunami — it can be hard to find a compatible partner.

Canning venison, shooting firearms, living off the grid and creating manure from human waste just aren’t traditional interests many people look for when browsing mainstream dating sites like eHarmony or Match.com.

That’s why a site called Survivalist Singles has entered the online dating scene, catering specifically to this niche community of “preppers,” “survivalists” and “doomsdayers.”

As it turns out, SurvivalistSingles.com (which has the cheery motto “Don’t Face the Future Alone”) isn’t the only site for those who are waiting with bated breath (not to mention Spam-packed bunkers) for the end of the world as we know it. PrepperDating.com and Kwink.com also cater to “doomsday preppers” and “doomsdayers.”

According to the CNN story, the average age on SurvivalistSingles.com is over 50 and men outnumber women two to one (shocking, I know).  Although the site is currently free, the woman who runs it is thinking about charging a $5 a month membership fee in days to come (should there be any days to come).

She even has a slogan picked out: “Find love for less than the price of a box of bullets.” (You have to admit it’s catchy. I mean, how often do you find the words love and bullet in the same sentence? Outside of the local crime headlines, that is.)

Now I know things can get a little scary out there at times, especially in an election year. Not to mention a year where a dystopian survival-fest like The Hunger Games is the biggest box office draw since, I don’t know, Apocalypse Now.

But no matter how bad things get (or how close we get to the Mayan calendar’s looming deadline), I know I’m not quite ready to head for the hills with a gun-toting, deer-slaying, bean-eating Doomsdating Machine. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, that would be the end of the world.

So what say you? What’s the weirdest niche site you’ve signed up for — and did you find a mate there? Would love to hear your thoughts, people. You know, while there’s still time. ; )

What’s new in the world of romance?

Incredibly, it’s February 14 today, otherwise known as International Quirkyalone Day. And oh, yeah, Valentine’s Day. To celebrate the holiday, I thought I’d throw out a few of the (hundreds) of fun stats and news items that have been stacking up in my email box since, oh I don’t know, Christmas.

Our survey says …
Pure Romance, a direct sales company specializing in relationship enhancement products and “intimacy education,” conducted some type of survey (although, they failed to provide any information as to who — or how many people — they talked with). Whatever the case, here are some of the tidbits they dug up about love, sex, V-Day, etc.

 Regarding Valentine’s Day …

  • 27% of men said their romantic resolution this Valentine’s Day is to have sex with the lights on
  • 38% of people would buy themselves a sex toy because they’re single on Valentine’s Day
  • 80% of people believe they will be getting lucky this Valentine’s Day; less than 50% of people had good luck last year
  • 40% of women want to try something new and kinky this Valentine’s Day

 Hmmm … am wondering if  “new and kinky” might include “leaving the lights on.”

Regarding sex and relationships in general …

  • 85% of women surveyed own a sex toy
  • More than 40% of people in a long-term relationship (3+ years) have sex at least twice a week
  • 57% of people in a new relationship (less than one year) talk about sex every day
  • For better sex in 2012, 37% of men would be willing to gain 10 pounds but only 10% of women are willing to pack on the pounds for better sex

Wait, you can have better sex by gaining 10 pounds? Bring on the chocolate!

Missed connections … 
A PR representative from www.bestpr.net took the time to compile and send along the “Best Missed Connections Posts of 2012” from everybody’s favorite freak fest, Craigslist. Looks like the ads are from all over the country and some of them are pretty fun. Not to mention romantic, particularly this first one.

So … fess up. Are you the woman in the minotaur mask and underpants?

  • I felt like I was attacked by locusts: m4w (Burning Man): You: beautiful person in the tail end of a Snuffleupagus outfit on the playa. Me: Stilted clown hobo next to camp earth mad max 2046. We met in a sandstorm, and you poked your head out of the costume. It looked like the miracle of birth. I think you had rainbow hair, but couldn’t tell in the alkaline flats. Maybe 2 septum piercings? Maybe it’s the mescaline talking, but it would be nice to meet again. We never talked, but I think you saw me and the earth shook. Then I threw up in front of you next to the naked bicyclist orgy. Coffee???
  • Midnight girl in PJ bottoms and slippers at Walgreens – m4w – 24 (lower Haight) You had blond hair and a turtleneck sweater. I had just woken up and was trying to remember what I had come in for. You were playing with the singing kung fu hamsters at the register waiting to buy your items. I was watching you from over by the Cheetos. I made some rustling noises with the bags to get your attention and we had a brief moment of eye contact before the woman started ringing you up. I made some more rustling noises with the chips but you didn’t look over, I started really going at it with a couple of Doritos bags hoping maybe you’d come investigate but you still didn’t look and walked out. I was going to follow you but I was unfortunately and unlawfully detained by a Walgreens employee before I could get out. Maybe we could meet at the High Tide some time?
  • Minotaur, Halloween, downtown – m4w – 22 (Santa Cruz) You were a tall blonde girl wearing a creepy minotaur mask, walking down Pacific Avenue with the sexiest strut I’ve ever seen. It’s nice to see a girl that can actually walk in high heels. Given, you were in your underpants, but I think even if you’d been dressed more modestly it would have had the same impact. Just….damn.

Yes, this really is a new online dating site
Apparently, the current glut of online dating sites aren’t cutting it when it comes to “serious” relationship people. So now we have MarryMeAlready.com, a dating site “solely for people seeking marriage long-term relationships.”

According to the press release I received from this mom-and-pop dating operation, “when it comes to conventional online dating, separating recreational daters from those sincerely looking for love and meaningful relationships can be tricky.” People jump from person to person (literally and figuratively, I’m assuming) and “too many online daters are also looking specifically for one-night stands or casual relationships, which can be frustrating for someone looking for a real relationship and not wanting to waste time.”

Aside from being a 100% free dating site (albeit one that aspires to become a paid site one day), MarryMeAlready.com includes member spotlights (and no, we’re not talking about the type of member spotlights you might find on Grindr), video links, and personal blogs where you can include your laundry list of must-have qualifications for your future spouse and/or post pictures of your wedding dress/groom suit and china. (I’m assuming members have already planned the date and purchased the basics and are just looking to fill in a gap here or there).  

That’s it for me, folks. As always, thanks for stopping by for the read. Have a great Valentine’s Day everybody. You’re all sweethearts in my book!

Road tripping with a trio of randy single women

It's-a-roadtripI came across a post on the Seattle P-I’s The Big Blog today that gave me a start, primarily because I’d read the story somewhere before. Apparently, a trio of carefree single girls had decided to take a trip across America with “no money, no plan and a name they knew would draw attention and controversy.”

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Hot and Retarded.

On August 28, Seattle’s own H & R member (Erica) will join her two friends, Annie and Nicole (hmmmm, where have I heard that before?) for a five-week journey from Los Angeles to the East Coast and back.

“I’ve got no kids, no relationship, no real career and I see all these people constantly say, ‘I’d wish I’d done that when I was younger,’” Erica explained in an interview with the P-I. “I never want to hear myself say that.”

Armed with little more than their cell phone cameras and a potential deal with Fox News, the trio seems open to anything – love, adventure, perhaps even jail time.

“We’ll definitely be getting into trouble along the road,” Erica told the P-I.

After digging around in the dusty recesses of my brain (and my files), I came across the original story that whispered to me when I first read about this madcap-single-gals-take-the-country-by-storm scenario. Wouldn’t you know it? It’s been done before. Like 80 years before.

Back in 1928, another titillating trio decided to set out on a cross-country journey with not much more than a bit of newspaper publicity and some chutzpah. Dubbed the Matrimonial Musketeers, the toothsome threesome was led by Helen Davis, a “pretty Washingtonian still on the sunny side of 40,” who decided to go out in search of decent single guys after she found the pickings in Washington, D.C., too slim. Helen didn’t have two single buddies to join her (most 32-year-olds were long married in that day and age), so she did the next best thing. She put an ad in the paper, garnering nearly 200 responses, out of which she chose two game dames: Stella and Vivian. The three met, discussed the trip, then set about taking care pre-travel necessities, i.e., holding press conferences and having their picture taken (did I mention you can watch a series of YouTube videos with the Hot and Retarded Erica?).

As with today’s trio, the 1928 group set off to much acclaim – their adventures were covered in New York, Iowa, Ohio, D.C., and elsewhere – and many proclamations. “En route, we are going to hold receptions and look over the candidates,” Helen told reporters of their forthcoming plans. “Wherever we stop, all lonely single people will be invited to attend the parties. They may make matches for themselves or the women may join our caravan. We expect to have several automobile loads of eligible women in our party before we reach California.”

Similarly, today’s travelers posted plans about their forthcoming adventure on their website:  “There will also be various competitions that you can compete in to party with us as we make our way to your city, along with guest appearances from people we pick up in a city and leave in another, along the way.”

As luck would have it, though, Helen and her companions never made Los Angeles. In fact, they barely made it out of D.C. before Vivian decided to jump ship, leaving Helen and Stella to charm the nation’s bachelors. And that didn’t last too long. According to newspaper accounts, the pair only made it to Nashville, Tennessee before they got into a fight about money and parted ways. Unfortunately, they didn’t part friends; Stella contacted the police who put out a description of Helen and her “husband-hunting” game.  No word was available as to whether Helen was eventually arrested or married or both (oh wait, is that the same?).

Will today’s trio of media-savvy minxes fare better than Helen and her posse? Hard to say, but I do find it fascinating how the game never changes. Just the players. And — to borrow a phrase — the level of retardation.

Editor’s note:  For a roadtrip of a different kind, here’s a link to an essay I did for the Seattle Times a while back.

Husband-hunting for “fun” and profit …

groomsday-clock-in-a-braYou’ve heard of the biological clock. And the doomsday clock. Now meet the “groomsday clock.”  Or rather, the groomsday bra. It’s a little tricky so bear with me.

Apparently, Japan is going through a bit of a social craze right now known as “konkatsu” (marriage hunting). According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, marriage rates in Japan have plummeted over the past 30 years with the rate of unmarried men age 30 to 34 soaring from 14% to 47% and the rate of unmarried women skyrocketing from 8% to 32%. There are lots of reasons for the increase in singlehood — women are focusing on their careers more, traditional matchmaking by “neighborhood aunties” has started to fade away – but the authors of a new bestselling book, “The Era of Marriage Hunting” (think of it as “The Rules” of Japan) feel that this is a bad thing. They encourage singles to go on the prowl, to quit sitting around and waiting for the right match to come along, to get out there and hunt that spouse down.

As a result, many unmarried women in Japan have jumped on a “marriage hunting” bandwagon. Although, according to the article, the men are a bit more reticent about the whole business, thanks to the economic slump (men, traditionally, marry when they feel like they can afford it).

Where does the weird ticking bra come in?

Well, Japanese women aren’t the only ones to embrace the “marriage hunting” mindset (and not all of them have, mind you). Businesses have also gone ga-ga for the concept, primarily as away to boost their, if you’ll pardon the expression, sagging bottom line. There are konkatsu bars, konkatsu seats at the baseball game, konkatsu prayer services (for $62 a pop) and even a popular new konkatsu TV show. Local governments have also gotten into the act, promoting konkatsu matchmaking events, perhaps in hopes of boosting the country’s low birthrate (no marriage, no babies — eek!).

And now, there’s the konkatsu bra, a lovely piece of lingerie with a clock embedded into the lace, a clock that counts down to some kind of marriage deadline. According to the WSJ article, “inserting an engagement ring into the heart-shaped ring box between the cups stops the ticking and a congratulatory wedding march begins to play.”

No pressure or anything.

So I’m curious … what happens if no one inserts a ring into this urgent piece of underwear? Does the bra explode? Administer an electric shock? And if a woman gets married to the one (or “a one” which is much more likely when it comes to this kind of weird matrimania) and it doesn’t work out, does the clock automatically rewind?  Does she somehow get back the “best years of her life”?  

Just a bit of food for thought on this lovely Independence Day. And a reminder to enjoy yours while you can. (Need a primer in the joys of living alone? Check out my Single Shot column from last Fourth of July.)

Stranger danger

200487196-001Hot on the heels of a new study that suggests women aren’t that picky about mate selection after all (see “You’re so picky!” below), comes this news item about a new reality show where women are getting married without even meeting their mates.

Currently in development with Fox, “I Married a Stranger” will feature a gaggle of 30-something single women “frustrated by the dating scene” (spinster alert!) who agree to marry men they’ve never met. Who are these guys? The producers of the show will come up with a half a dozen bachelors as a starting point (dullard alert!), after which the woman’s friends and family will whittle it down to one. In other words, the husbands will be created by committee. Yippee!

Each episode of “I Married a Stranger” will feature a bride-to-be preparing for her “blind wedding” and a finale in which two groom finalists walk down the aisle. But as the show’s creators put it “only one makes it to the altar to reveal himself to his new wife.”

So, what, is the guy going to be wearing the veil?

Oddly enough, this isn’t the only reality show featuring women marrying strangers that’s in the works. CBS has also announced a new reality series called “Arranged Marriage,” in which three women marry three guys sight unseen and, you guessed it, hilarity ensues. According to the CBS website, “’Arranged Marriage’ is a series that brings the tradition of arranged marriages, which is still practiced successfully by many cultures throughout the world, to the U.S., where it is virtually an inconceivable option for most single Americans.”

I suppose I shouldn’t complain. There are tons of other traditions “practiced successfully by many cultures throughout the world” that they could have turned into a reality TV series. Stoning, for instance.

But the whole arranged marriage thing – especially when played out on national TV – just seems creepy.  What happens if they marry somebody off to a psychopath? Is that part of the entertainment? Next up on “I Married a Strangler”: Susie discovers a garotte in Brad’s underwear drawer!

Also, what kind of message does this impart to little kids? Or even big kids? I know reality TV is supposed to be light entertainment and all, but it’s hard to take all this “sanctimony of marriage” talk seriously when shows like this turn it into such a desperate disturbing farce.

Personally, I’d rather tune in to something more honest like “I Slept With a Stranger.” Or as you may know it, Sex and the City.   

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.


What’s the story?

Meet Diane Mapes, your friendly neighborhood freelance writer. My beats include health (with an emphasis on cancer prevention, treatment and survivorship) and 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 stories, praise for my writing (*blush*) and the odd bit of social commentary about the single life. Also here, a few shameless plugs for 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

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

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

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