mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Why I want to take a break from online dating...

I've been trying to meet women online for nearly 3 years in some form. In that time, I've gotten a grand total of 3 dates, none of which resulted in a second date. So I'm thinking it's time to give up.

Well, not give up on the idea of dating altogether, and not ruling out the possibility of going back to online dating at some point. After all, I wouldn't want to hang myself with a celibate rope.

But more and more I'm finding online dating to be frustrating, more cost and less benefit. Looking at profiles of women who I would love to date but have no interest in me, or the occasional woman who is interested in me but I'm not interested in, just depresses me. If I added up all the time I've spent browsing online profiles, it would add up to a whole bunch of time I could have spent doing something more enjoyable.

I'm not sure why I've failed at online dating when I know other people who have succeeded. Well, I have some ideas. First of all, I don't have a great hook - I'm not unusually attractive, or smart, or a great writer, or athletic, or have some cool unique hobby. I think I'm a nice guy, but everyone online is a nice guy - nobody is going to make a profile that says "I'm a douchebag, date me!". So I don't really come off as someone women are dying to meet. Either that, or I'm just so antisocial/hideous that there is no hope for me. But I'm hoping that it's just that I come off better as a real person than an online profile, and that it's just that I haven't been around enough women in the meatspace to meet one.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of signing up for one of eHarmony's discount 3-month subscriptions, so I can't cancel for another month or two. That actually works out well in a way, because that is around the time I'll be starting on grad school for my second master's degree. Which I'm also hoping will be a good way to meet people in the real world.

As I mention in the post below, I'm also planing on doing a few other things that I hope will help me discover more who I am, and get more comfortable around people. I hope it's sucessful because online dating is generally the meeting place of last resort, and it hasn't worked for me - so if I don't either find a way of making myself more datable or finding some hidden cache of women who want to date me, I can pretty much expect to die alone.

I has a bukkit list...

I don't have a bucket. And I don't really have a bucket list of things to do before I die. Truth be told, I'm not much of a risk-taker, so if I make it to my deathbed without bungee jumping or skydiving, I don't think I'll regret it.

But I do have a much more mundane list of things I've been saying I was going to do for the last few years that I keep putting off - partly because of laziness, partly because of fear, partly because of business, and partly because I've been hoping to meet a woman I can spend the rest of my life with and do some of those things with. But the last of those hasn't been happening, and I'm starting to think it's time to focus on some other stuff. I've been trying online dating for a while, and I'm probably going to take a break from it - partly because I'm frustrated with it, and partly because I think it will help me focus on the other things that I'm hoping to do in the next year or so. I'm also hoping that by being busier, I'll have less time to spend moping around being sad about how I'm unhappy with my life. I'm also thinking that if I try to do things that require human interaction, maybe a little bit of risk, maybe I'll be more personable, meet more people, be less socially awkward - and maybe those things will help me on the dating and social fronts.

For the last few years, I've lamented that I've been able to accomplish some goals - like losing weight - while being unable to accomplish others - like meeting women. I blame part of this on the fact that weight loss is entirely under my control, a matter of what I put in my body and what I do to burn it off. Dating, on the other hand, involves some externals - I can't will a woman to like me. But I can try to make myself more likable.

So, the list:

1. Grad School, part deux: I work for a college, which means free tuition to any of our part-time Master's programs. I got an MBA about 2 years ago. It didn't help me at all career-wise. I've thought about doing another master's program, but kept putting it off. I decided it was time to stop putting it off - if I do it, and it sucks, I can always drop out, and I won't have lost anything other than a few dollars for books and registration and a few hours of my time. So I've applied to the Master's in Educational Technology program at the college I work for, and got my acceptance packet yesterday. So come mid-January, I'll be taking education classes. My hope is that by doing this, management at work will see that I'm interested in the softer side of Educational Technology, that I'm more than just a technical person. And if they don't, it could help me if I decide to change careers or jobs. Plus it's another degree for my wall. In the back of my head is also the idea that lots of teachers are female, and some of them are single - it could be a good way to meet women - even if I don't get a date out of it, spending time interacting with the opposite sex would probably be a good thing, especially since I don't much in my day job or free time.

2. Take a vacation - Where I work, we accumulate vacation time to a certain point, and then we stop accumulating, which means losing vacation time. I lose a lot of vacation time, because I rarely take time off. I figure that should help me career-wise - it should show my dedication. It really hasn't. So either the couple days I have taken off are too much, or it's not a factor in advancement - and I'm going to guess it's the latter, since plenty of people have been promoted who don't have the same aversion to time off that I do. I also don't generally travel anywhere beside visiting the parents and the occasional work training trip - partly because of the time, partly because I guess I've been hoping to find someone to travel with, and partly because I'm cheap. But I'm at a point where I can afford a vacation without breaking the bank. So where to go? I'm thinking Atlanta, because I've long wanted to see what a Post Office unclaimed mail auction was like. Plus I could tour the Coke museum. This will probably wait until spring/summer (and will need to work around classes), but I do want to make sure I do it.

3. Swingin' - back a decade or so ago, when it was the fashion at the time, I was a fan of jazz and swing music. I played in jazz band and a jazz/fusion band in high school, and wanted to learn to swing dance. I never did. Now I'm going to. Evidently, there are actually a few swing groups in the Baltimore area. So I'm going to start lessons November 3rd with these guys and hopefully work up enough skills and confidence to go to one of their dances. The thought of going to a dance alone with a bunch of people I don't know terrifies me, but it's a good way to meet people, and hopefully give me a fun hobby.

4. Get some For a while, I've talked about getting another cat, but I haven't done anything more than scroll through listings on petfinder. I've been reluctant to go through the whole "slowly introducing your cat to the new cat so they don't kill each other" process. But Nibbler, my current cat, spends a lot of time alone at home, and I feel like she's getting lonely and would benefit from a companion. Plus, the idea of saving a cat appeals to me. This is probably going to have to wait until the first week of January - I'll be away for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and don't want the new cat to be alone right after I get him/her.

5. Buy a second car - I've been thinking about doing this for a while - I've always been a car nut, and I've wanted a fun vehicle. I'm finally in a position financially where I could do this, which means I should actually do it. I realize that from a financial perspective this is a horrible idea - it's a giant metal hole into which I'll throw money. But at the same time, it's silly that I work and save, and then don't spend it on things I want and enjoy. I don't know what I'll buy - I've considered a very wide range of vehicles, from the low end (AMC Eagle, Chrysler LeBaron Convertible) to the middle (Toyota MR2 Spider, 80's Vette) to the high end (early-90's Bentley or Rolls, DeLorean, Porsche Boxter). I want something that's fun and attention-getting and cool. I figure I'll keep my pickup as a daily driver- it's still got a number of years left in it, it's set up the way I want, with a hard bed cover and bedliner, and it's been solid so far - and use car #2 as a weekend/fun car.

So there is my list - 5 things I hope to do in the next year. Sort of a new year's resolution list without the new year. There are still things on my new year's list - like lose/maintain my weight - that I also plan on continuing to do - but I'm also resolving for once to actually do these things, rather than just say "I've been thinking about" or "I should"...

Friday, October 16, 2009

At the crossroads of health and temptation..

So for the last 6 weeks or so, I've been carefully watching my weight - no more than 2000 calories a day, and 2 hours of cardio every day. But today I'm blowing it - I'm eating a 500 calorie Ms. Freshly's Chocolate Pie from the vending machine, and I'm probably going to stop and buy some donuts on my way up to NJ tonight. I will hit the gym, but for an abbreviated workout.

The diet has actually been pretty successful - I've dropped about 12 pounds and probably an inch or two. I still have a little bit of a belly, but less than I did before. I'm still on the high side of normal for my height - I'm around 138 pounds, the CDI says anything between 111 and 149 is normal for someone who is 5'5".

One of the reasons I started turning into a weight loss Nazi was frustration about my lack of dating success. But I doubt that losing 15 pounds is going to make a difference. And it's getting frustrating being hungry, not being able to order what I want on those rare occasions I grab dinner with a friend, ect. The workout is getting to me too - if I leave work a few minutes late, by the time I get to the gym, work out for 2 hours, and drive home, I'm not getting home until 8:15 or later. That leaves me less than 4 hours of time to check email, surf the web, watch TV, clean the house, pet the cat, put into my eBay business, ect.

So I think I'm going to start compromising. I'll still watch what I eat, but I'll allow for the occasional splurge. I'll try to do 2-hour workouts when I have plenty of time, like on weekends, but I'll go back to 90 minutes when I have stuff to do at home. I'll probably gain a couple pounds back, but I'll still probably be lighter than I was 6 weeks ago. I have picked up some good habits - smaller portions, more fruits and veggies, better weekend breakfasts, smaller snacks/desserts - that I'll try to keep up with. But I'm starting to think that I've reached the point of diminishing returns - I have to make big changes in food and exercise to get a small loss of weight. I'm not where I was 5 years ago, where I was 100 pounds overweight, where small changes meant big losses, where not losing the weight meant major health problems. Any weight I lose now will do little for me healthwise and appearancewise. I think it's time to ease off.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Kash for Kitties?

Via Consumerist, and also a lengthy fatwallet thread, is the proposed tax break for pet owners, allowing them to deduct pet care from their taxes, up to $3500. The proposed law doesn't really define "pet care" beyond specifying that it includes vet care and excludes acquisition costs.

I'm torn on this. On one hand, I'm not a big fan of the government using tax law to reward some groups (and thus basically take money from other groups and give it to them). It's why things like cash for clunkers, the first-time homebuyer tax credit, mortgage readjustments for people whose mortgages happened to be owned by the right quasi-government agency, and many of the other recent schemes piss me off - they just give money to random people, often for not doing anything more than being in the right place at the right time - having the right trade-in or being in the housing market.

On the other hand, as a pet owner, it would be nice to get a break. You could probably justify the break not only on the claimed health benefits, but also on reducing some of the cost for animal control and shelters if it encourages people to adopt more.

Actually, one of the posters in the fatwallet thread had a better idea - how about a one-time tax break for the cost of spaying/neutering pets? I'd even throw in being able to write off the cost of adoption fees for adopting a pet from a shelter. This would be far cheaper than being able to write off $3500 worth of kibble, and also bits. It would also encourage/reward people for doing something responsible, and something that clearly impacts shelters/animal control.

Friday, October 09, 2009


madanthony has been feeling pretty down lately, to the point of talking in the third person. Seriously, especially the last month or so, I've been feeling like nothing seems to be going right, and I'm not really sure how to change it. my outlook on life tends to go up and down as events in my life occur, but of late it's been all on the down side, and most of it seems to be out of my control. There are times pretty much every day where I pretty much just want to cry.

Work - I feel like I'm pretty much doomed to be stuck in the same job forever, and it's a job I don't particularly like much anymore. I was an business major as an undergrad, I have an MBA, but I keep getting more and more technical stuff thrown at me, much of it way out of my league. I'm not getting a whole lot of direction, and it's making me unhappy. The thing is that I can't figure out what I did wrong - I feel like I do a good job, I do everything I'm asked, I got my MBA, and yet it hasn't helped.

dating - still single. Haven't even had a date in a couple months, and online dating is not working out. I had some hope a couple times, but nothing came out of them, and now everything seems to be going more towards hopeless. I feel like there's something horribly wrong with me that just repels women, but I don't know what it is or how to change it.

the parents - both of my parents have been having a bunch of health problems lately. My dad was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis a few months ago, and my mom has a ton of issues with her back, knees, and heart, among other things. My emails from them and weekly phone calls consist mostly of hearing their problems, and I feel bad for them. I feel like I should be doing more to help them, but I'm not sure what, and I'm too selfish to go up and visit them on a regular basis.

my weight - I decided to try to get back to taking weight loss seriously, and made an effort to drop my caloric intake to around 2000 calories and increase my workout to two hours a day. On the plus side, I've dropped 12 pounds. On the con side, I'm completely miserable - I'm too out of shape to make it through my workout without feeling sore and tired, and by the time I get home from the gym, it's often 8:30 or later. I also miss a lot of the foods I enjoyed. I skipped the gym and went out to eat tonight - I had a good time, but I know it's going to kill me diet-wise.

my cat - I'm pretty sure she hates me. She's been meowing frantically every time I'm on my home office PC, but when I'm somewhere she can crawl on my lap she ignores me. I want to get another cat to keep her company, but don't want to go through the whole "getting your cats to not kill each other" phase. Plus I feel like I'll just end up with two cats that hate each other, and me.

Now, I realize that things could be worse. I'm alive, my parents are still alive (even if they aren't in the greatest of shape). I'm in pretty decent health. I'm gainfully employed, even if I find myself dreading most mornings. I have some savings, a paid-off vehicle, I'm able to make the mortgage payments on my house (even though I'm upside down on it and things keep breaking in it), and I haven't hit anyone with my truck in almost a year.

So where do I go from here? I'm not really sure, although I have a few ideas about a few things. I'm very seriously thinking of getting another Master's degree - the college I work for has an Master of Education degree in Educational Technology. It's mostly intended for grade/high school teachers, but I figure it's free, there has to be at least some crossover to higher ed, and hopefully it will make management at work see that I'm someone who wants to self-improve and is interested in the softer, more user-oriented side of technology. Plus it's a good opportunity to interact with people - and lots of women are teachers, and at least some of them are probably single. Which is probably the stupidest reason ever to get a degree, but whatever. I need to make up my mind pretty soon, though - if I want to start in January I need to get my application in by the end of the month.

In terms of dating, I'm seriously thinking about taking a break from online dating. I find it takes a bunch of my time to comb through profiles, and usually leaves me feeling worse when I'm done - either I've looked at a bunch of women I have no interest in, or a bunch of women who have no interest in me. I'm thinking that taking a few months off wouldn't hurt. If I end up going back to school, it's a good excuse to cancel my subscriptions and delete my profiles.

As far as the weight thing, I'm torn - I'm kind of proud of myself, and I think I look better. But the workouts are killing me, and there are some foods I really want to eat. I'll probably keep it up for a while longer, but I think if I drop another 10 pounds or so I might back off. Besides, I'm not sure I want to lose enough weight where I have to buy new clothes. At least I've proven I can do it if I have to. Once again, if I go back to school, I'll have to cut back on the workouts.

So maybe the grad school idea isn't a bad one - it might make me readjust my priorities a little, or at least take up enough of my time that I won't be able to think about being miserable.

My cat will probably hate me even more, though.

Scenes from the outback, pie edition...

bsom: Man, I could go for a piece of pie.

t (bsom's wife): But I'm on a diet. Pie is banned in our house.

mad anthony: But if you've banned pi, how can you measure the circumference of anything?