Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Texter By The Same Name Can Be Confusing

Remember: Anonymous texting is just creepy. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

You Get What You Take: Bad Choices = Bad Results

While at the grocery store this morning, it was impossible to not notice the woman in front of me, partly because more than half her body weight was made up of fat. While that's a common enough sight here in America, it's still disturbing. The other reason was that she was asking for a subtotal after every item rang up and she had about fifty of them. This of course dragged out her food buying process at least an extra fifteen minutes.

It was likewise impossible to not notice how she prioritized what she was buying, based upon the order of which she put them on the counter to be checked and bagged.

Case of soda? Check.
Box of garbage sugar cereal? Check.
Cans of pork and something I've never heard of? Check
Frozen, breaded corn dogs? Check. 
Bags of chips? Check.

Most of the other food items she bought, I didn't recognize. Cans, boxes, plastic containers all sporting lables I've never bought and honestly don't remember ever seeing on the shelves. But then I've always tried to keep prepackaged, processed food to a minimum and since I was raised that way, I don't even see most of that stuff as being "food". 

Finally, she reached the last few items in her cart. She seemed slightly anxious as to whether they were going to push her payment over the acceptable price limit: What were these last items?
Raw tomatoes, fresh mushroom and bunches of beets.

As she approached the $80 mark (I'm assuming her cut off point) you could see the tension on her face. Brow crinkled, she struggled between fresh vegetables and a giant portion of bakery cake she suddenly extracted from the front section of the cart where people typically put their valuables such as children, purses and raw eggs.

Cake in hand, her face puckered as she looked back and forth between the produce items and the white frosted full day worth of calories. I shifted my weight from one foot to the other and resting my elbow on my cart, propped my chin on my hand. The checker waited. I waited. The five people in line behind me waited.

After another infinite moment of what must have been gut wrenching effort to judge the value of the items left, the woman plunked the cake down on the conveyer belt and glancing around, skooted one bunch of beets near it. $80.24 showed up on the screen. Those were her final items.

She breathed a sigh of relief that her fat insurance was safely bagged and tucked back into her car and started making jokes. "Only three items to put back, I did good this time."

I worked hard to keep my face emotionless. Meanwhile the rejected nutrition make it's way back to the "return cart" pile.   

Monday, June 16, 2014

Dating: Why Assumptions Don't Work

I guess it's a pretty common thing to assume that if you're writing someone of the opposite gender, there are some safe bets on what is acceptable to say to them: Based upon your understanding of that gender, maybe what you've seen in the movies or what you guess they might be about, built on decades worth of stereotypes.

But you know what they say about "ASSUME." It just makes an "ASS out of "U" and "ME". So rather than thinking you can write some generic message and it will apply to every one of the female or male persuasion, don't. Do yourself a favor and bother to read their profile, find out as much as they let you know about them before you go and say stupid and ridiculous things that will get your messages deleted. You seriously cannot be angry at everyone for deleting your messages and never responding if you insist on making the same mistakes over and over again, assuming everyone is just a bitch or an asshole for not giving you the time of day. Chances are really good that you brought it upon yourself.

Here is a message I got just today from someone on one of the online dating sites:

Hello my hot sexy queen you look so fabulous and cute in all yours pictures I'm 000000 from 00000000 VA like That and would luv to get to know you better if that's cool with you hope to hear from you have a blessed day kiss kiss

Some people might think this is a sweet, while possibly slightly prusumptious message, but otherwise at least beats out "what's up?" or "How is your day?" But honestly, in some ways it's actually worse.

Right off the bat there are six glaringly obvious things wrong with this. 

1) He used a possessive term "My"

To describe someone he's never talked to and never met that's just a bad idea. At best it comes across as eager. At worst it suggests that he's arrogant enough to think he's already won the woman over and can now claim ownership of her like lawn furniture or a pet gerbil. Either way it implies that he may end up being the jealous, controlling type who would start off the getting-to-know-you phase by expecting he already has a lot of flexibility in what he can say and do because he doesn't respect boundaries.

Basically: You don't know me. You don't own me. Don't introduce yourself to me as though you do.

2) He called me his "queen". 

 Many little girls grow up pretending or wanting to be princesses, royalty, or super stars. Many grown women (especially of certain backgrounds) refer to themselves as queens which I believe suggests they want to be treated with a high level of respect, admiration with people egg-shell walking around them. And then there are women like me. I was a little girl who wanted to be a spy. I pretended I was an Indian warrior. And I dressed like a tomboy. While I embrace my femininity more now and definitely identify as a straight female, I still hold dear a slight disdain for all things hyper-feminine of the manipulative, demanding, pretentious and helpless variety.  I hear "queen" and all I think is "drama queen", "queen bee" and "drag queen". NONE of that do I want to be connected to in any way.

Basically: Look at my profile. See that I am an able-bodied, capable and hands-on person (who also just happens to be female). I'm not a "queen" and never would want to be. By calling me that, I can tell he doesn't respect the fact that I'm not a clingy, helpless damsel in distress who needs rescuing. And that just pisses me off since it couldn't be more obvious it's just the opposite. Either he's blind to it or willfully ignores it, while trying to cram me into the same pink frilly box that I resisted being crammed into my entire life. Why would I want to invite him into my life so I have to have those battles all over again?? I wouldn't!

3. He only referenced how I "look".

Every adjective or remark on anything about me was physical. "Hot", "sexy", "look so fabulous and cute". In my profile pictures I'm holding a camera, wearing a gun on my hip, climbing a rock wall and hanging from a door frame for crying out loud! I list as my interests martial arts, tools, weapons, cooking, philosophy, adrenaline sports, drawing, musical instruments and about thirty other things. I list my job as being an entrepreneur and small business owner. Clearly I am a whole lot more than attractively compiled tissue, bone, fat and muscle. But he either ignored all that or didn't care. All he saw was my physical attributes. Which means in his mind, I'm just a piece of meat to him.

So if we're just looking at the physical attributes, then the same rules apply to him. He damn well better have washboard abs, big biceps, nice glutes and a very attractive face. Oh wait, he doesn't. Probably because he's hoping I'll fall in love with his personality and care more about his other qualities over his looks. Shame he set the standard of noticing and caring only about a person's body.

Basically: If you are going to give compliments, make sure they're about things that matter. I'm pretty sure if he didn't find me at least somewhat attractive, he wouldn't have bothered to write me at all. So please, notice something that I've accomplished, beyond the obvious of keeping my weight in check.

4. He used a common religious term "Have a blessed day".

While there is nothing initially wrong with having a religion and a belief in a god, it's a red flag to someone who's not religious. To another religious person it's another layer of commonality. An anchor they can connect to and base their other life choices around. To someone who's not religious or even anti-religious it's an in-your-face implication that if I talk with him I'm going to be subjected to a whole diatribe on how I'm not saved, why I should start going to his church, make reading his religious material part of my life and basically re-identify who I am and my place in the world around his particular spiritual viewpoints. And some people meet someone they love and do just that. But you need to tread lightly with that kind of thing until you find out if the other person is at all receptive to that. Religions typically bring with them a whole cart full of routines, practices, activities, and very specific vocabulary and vernacular. By waving that flag in the very first meeting, I'm already leery about what is inevitably going to follow and I'm already headed for door and hitting the delete button.  

Basically: Most online dating sites have the option for people to list their religious affiliation. Pay attention to this! Dating sites are for meeting like-minded people who are looking for love. Not a new avenue for proselyting and converting people to your ideology.

5. His grammar is atrocious.

There is an apparent abject disregard for every basic first grade English rule of sentence structure. He doesn't use punctuation, proper capitalization or even proper spelling. He's closer to 50 than he is to ANY age in grade school, including all the high school levels. If he hasn't figured out how to write like English is his first (and likely only) language by now, he probably never will. I for one would learn to despise having to spend the rest of my life correcting him.

This is also a huge indication that he probably doesn't read, wouldn't understand philosophy and associates "debate" exclusively with the presidential political pre-election televised event. That is about four fields of intellectual stimulation that are automatically negated. And that's like air to me. Without it, I might as well resign myself to talking to potted plants when looking for intelligence exercise. No thanks!

Basically: If the person you are writing skips using things like .,?! and abbreviate words like love for luv, use words out of context or confuses their contractions (they're, their, there , If you're not sure you know which is which try checking out this link.) and clearly don't care much about articulation, you are probably safe sending them a message just as poorly constructed. They won't judge. Heck, they may not even notice. However for people who care about grammar and education, this is a major deal breaker. By not applying the effort, you have rendered yourself virtually invisible before they ever had a chance to find out if you're proficient at anything.

 6. He ended the message with "kiss kiss".

I can only think this was supposed to sound like he's an affectionate person. But like greetings that are too personal before you even know someone, ending a message with something that sounds like you are already close friends or lovers, is both creepy and annoying. Like point #1 of him calling me "his" anything, ending with  something as intimate as kissing implies that he doesn't have respect for space boundaries between strangers. And that's exactly what we are: complete strangers. He didn't even know me as well as he could have, given that he very obviously didn't read anything in my profile except my gender. 

Basically: Whether you use something formal or casual to start and end a message, make sure that it's not creepy. A good way to figure out if it's too personal: If someone of the same gender said that to you, would you be weirded out by it? If someone you think is way below your standards said that to you, would you laugh at it? Is it something you could say to one of your opposite gender relatives or friend's spouse and not have it be awkward? If you winced at any of those suggestions, hit the backspace on whatever you were going to say. It will inevitably be unwelcome because it's too personal, too soon!

What are your thoughts on this?

Friday, June 6, 2014

Who is Chris Neumer?

While writing a late night blog article that required a picture of a Nicholas Sparks movie poster, I searched through Google Images. In addition to finding a picture I could steal for my post, I happened to see a link to an article that observes some similarities between ALL the Sparks book covers and movie posters. I'd noticed the same thing and was interested to see another person's take on it.

Curiosity got the better of me (as it often does) and despite the late hour, I checked it out. It was funny. And smart. I was intrigued.

One thing led to another and soon I was reading an article about why Jurassic Park is the sloppiest made mainstream movie you’ll ever see. Growing up liking that movie, I was reticent. He was compelling. I read on. He was logical, had empirical evidence and on point observations. He won me over.

At this point I started to wonder (as I often do) about the author of the deliciously pithy articles I’d been reading. Why not, right? It’s only 3:30 in the morning. I only have to be up in 3 hours and 15 minutes.


I decided to do a little reconnaissance mission. So I clicked on Chris Neumer’s Bio. 

I waited for the page to load, expecting to see a face appear or at least a paragraph or two about the person (man or woman? After all, Chris is an androgynous name) to be revealed. 

Not a single bloomin word.

I figured my faulty laptop was just being a jerk and reached for my I-pad. Same thing. 

Muttering under my breath I found my way into my home office and plunked down in front of my barely six month old desktop computer and stared hard at my massive 24” screen. If there was anything at all written about Chris on that Bio, I was going to see every last pixel of it.

The page loaded annnnnnnd. Nothing.

Re-fresh, re-fresh. Nothing. 

How is it that a person who’s job (or at least dedicated hobby) of writing information probing, motivation questioning expose's, has nary a word about himself on the blog site? Is Chris so insignificant there that no one cares to talk about him? Is he a new writer and aside from a few articles he hasn’t been there long enough to create Bio content?

I went back to the main page and it would seem nearly every article I pulled up has the Chris Neumer byline. So why the heck doesn’t this guy have a Bio page??

Undeterred, I Googled him.  

Facebook, Twitter and Linked In all came up in a search for Chris Neumer.

But unless you have accounts with these sites, only Twitter will let you look at his page.  What I did find out though is that Chris is apparently not some lowly writer for the StumpedMagazine site that I’d been losing sleep over.  

He’s the publisher for the film magazine and the head photographer for something called Twenty Seven and a Half Photography.  (And THAT is a nifty site with very modern gadgets and crisp photos of beautiful and widely recognizable people. )

But I was interested in knowing more about Chris Neumen the man. 

The “About” and “Contact” links on the photography page gave me no additional information about this Chris character. So I went back to Twitter to see what I could glean there. More of his excellent humor and observations but no new back story.


The 4:43 time on my screen mocks me.

Why am I so determined to get the bottom of this? I can only blame it on online dating sites.

I’ve gotten so used to finding out where a person was born, where they went to school, how many kids they have or want and if they like sushi or Radiohead or are following Game of Thrones, that when I’m curious about someone and I cannot find out the intimate details of their lives, I’m aggravated. 

Social media sites are now the vehicle with which we navigate around the people who interest us. IMDB is for movie stars, Wikipedia is for every other kind of historical person and all celebrities new and old and other social media like Facebook, Linked In etc. are for everyone else. Online dating sites are a very real part of social media and an excellent way of discovering juicy tidbits without the entire world being able to Google you by name. BUT in the absence of a person being listed on any of those sites, they fall under “no results” or basically anonymous.

How could someone who has a relatively high involvement with social media have so little to be discovered about?

Between my years as an online dating expert, my background in genealogical research and doing random searches about people for other reasons, (all legal I assure you) I consider myself a pretty good online private investigator. But now that my interest has been quipped by someone, in just over an hour of prying everything but “pay for private information sites” I can hardly tell anything about him other than:

he lives in “the greater Chicago area”

He says of himself: “I am a hybrid writer/fashion photographer with an unhealthy appreciation of Swedish dance music, team demolition derby and box office statistics.”

and that: 

In 2007, Stumped’s Chris Neumer was one of two film writers who were quoted on the DVD box of the special edition release of the movie Cinderella.

Well that’s just bloody brilliant.

Google Images pulled up a plethora of photography and film related photos but a mere four original pictures of the guy who’s pictured on Twitter. It would seem Chris is camera shy in addition to avoiding discussing himself. 

Seeing as he’s a professional writer and photographer, I find that rich with irony.

So much for from-a-distance stalking.

He has a modest following of 51 followers on Twitter, just over 1,000 friends on Facebook and 43 connections on Linked In. Given the quality (and quantity) of his writing and the high profile photography he does, he’s either severely unappreciated or extremely discriminating. 

The best find possibly was this Youtube video of him in action with a camera

It would seem that the best way to find out anything about this literary genius Chris guy is by either befriending him on Facebook (that might not get me anything but quirky photos and tongue-in-cheek film observations in my news feed) or by reading every article he’s ever written in the hopes that he spills more personal info. 

But then… that might be the whole point...

Well played Chris. Well played.