Where the Single Men and Women Are

In the late 1990s, a surprsingly large number of friends-of-friends who were women were involved in relationships with older married men (it was never clear to me how much thought they’d given to the long-term prospects for the relationship). I remember a Globe and Mail article from that time that talked about “The Man Glut”, a situation in which the author estimated that there was something in the order of 10,000 more single men in Accordion City than women. It’s probably no coincidence that I took up the accordion at around the same time.

When I lived in San Francisco around the end of 2000 and the first half of 2001, a number of people I knew complained of the lack of single women. There were a number of news reports that made the claim that the male-female ratio in Silicon Valley was even higher than in Anchorage, Alaska. As for the available men, women there had a saying about the nerds in the Valley: “the odds are good, but the goods are odd.” I remember hearing about some very expensive “how to meet women” courses in the valley in which nerds paid hundreds or even thousands of dollars to workshop their dating and socializing techniques.

Returning in Toronto in 2001, I came back to the complaints about the lack of eligible single men. In one particular case, the expectations of a friend of a friend were impossibly high.

It turns out that my experiences were indicative of larger trends, as the map below showing the ratios of single men to women across the United States shows. The west coast has a higher ratio of single men, while the east coast has a higher ratio of the single women. You might say that the country looks like a middle school dance:

Preview of map showing ratios of single men to women across the US.
Click the map to see it at full size.

My proposed solution: a big barn dance in “flyover country”.

[found via Reddit]

Geeks Make Good Lovers / Awkward Things I Say to Girls

Joey and Wendy

Over at a blog named Awkward Things I Say to Girls, there’s an entry titled Why Geeks Make Good Lovers. The reasons provided by the author:

  • Geeks don’t sleep around.
  • Geeks are good at the things they try.
  • Geeks are not interested in status.
  • Geeks haven’t formed bad habits.
  • Geeks can concentrate.
  • Geeks have excellent finger dexterity.
  • Geeks have imagination.

I’ll take issue with a couple of items in the list (for example, geeks do have bad habits. They’re just different from those that the popular kids have), but it’s an interesting article nonetheless. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Better still, go check out the rest of the blog, which the author describes as:

About the Blog

When the shattered remains of a once-promising conversation with the most recent cutest girl I’ve ever seen are strewn disasterously [sic] about the floor, I pick them up, scotch-tape them together the best that I can, and post them on this blog for your enjoyment.

Toronto (a.k.a. Accordion City)

Your Valentine’s Day Warning

Man sleeping in the doghouse.

Here’s a public service announcement for you gentlemen who are married, engaged, dating or “attached” in some way: this weekend is probably your last window of opportunity to book dinner reservations for Valentine’s Day, which is this Wednesday. Book as soon as possible and stay out of the doghouse. Don’t say I never do you any favours!

If you live in the Accordion City area, the Toronto Life Valentine’s Day Guide 2007 might have some ideas you might want to try.

It Happened to Me

Computer Knowledge to the Rescue!

Regular Expressions to the Rescue!

“Whenever I learn a new skill,” writes Randall Munroe, author and artist behind the incredibly nerdy webcomic xkcd, “I concoct elaborate scenarios where it lets me save the day.” In his latest comic, he illustrates this:

'I know regular expressions!' comic from 'xkcd'.
Click the comic to see it on its original page.

(Nerd alert: in order to get the joke in the comic, you need to know what regular expressions are. They’re strings of characters — called “strings” for short — that describe or match a given set of strings, according to rules. Think of them as being similar to the “search and replace” function in your favourite word processor, but on steroids.)

HTTP and Computational Complexity to the Rescue!

Back in 2003, I started dating a woman whom I thought was a webmaster and a computer science graduate. A reader of this blog recognized this woman by her description and email me a warning, saying that she wasn’t who she said she was — she was in fact a con artist and identity thief. She used enough jargon to seem convincing as a webmaster and programmer (not to just me, but a number of nerds), but I managed to catch her when she was unable to explain the difference between HTTP GET and HTTP POST and when I tricked her into lying that she proved that P = NP. The whole story is here in an old entry of mine, titled The Girl Who Cried Webmaster.

Radio Shack TRS-80 Nerds to the Rescue!

When writing about computer skills saving the day, I remembered that Radio Shack made a couple of superhero comics in which Superman got an assist from some young nerds equipped with the Radio Shack TRS-80 computer, a staple of young nerds back in the early 1980s:

'Superman' comic featuring the Radio Shack TRS-80 computer.

A little Googling landed me at X-Y-Z-Cosmonaut’s CosmoBlog, where he not only features the covers of these cheesy classics, he’s also giving away the comics!

'Superman and Wonder Woman' comic featuring the Radio Shack TRS-80 computer.

Everything You Need to Know About Guys, Explained in a Single Paragraph


One of the interesting side effects of writing funny if somewhat embarrassing dating stories is that people start coming to you for dating advice. If you Google for the phrase “master of dating”, the first page of results points to an Alex Payne blog entry which categorizes me as such. This has only increased since I got married; I assume that this is because people believe that as a married man, I have accomplished the dating mission. I would counter by saying that “it’s the journey that counts, not the destination“, but that’s not the point of this entry.

A number of women friends, acquaintances and blog readers whom I’ve never met but have sent me emails have told me that there seems to be some sort of guy shortage, and this leads to the inevitable question along the lines of “What are guys thinking?” or “Could you please tell me about the guy mindset?”

Explaining this feels like trying to explain colours to someone who’s been blind since birth. I usually end up falling back on my “Chihuahua Theory”, which goes like this:

Imagine that there’s a little chihuahua in your head that barks at everything.

While this is a glib, throwaway answer, most people upon hearing this suddenly change facial expression, as if they’re having a Eureka! moment. “Yes!” they say, “I understand!”

This theory amused the Ginger Ninja when I first explained it to her about a month into our dating; it’s why her first Christmas present to me was a plush chihuahua.

Everything You Need to Know About Cliques (and Girls), Explained on a Single Page

The piece of paper shown below was found in the cafeteria of an Arizona school. I’m strangely relieved to see that they haven’t changed…

Photo of 'Lunch Table Rules' found in an Arizona high school.
Click the image to see the original photo.

Poor Rocheal. She’s in the same boat as “The Ugly One” from Teen Girl Squad.

In the News

Five Girls for Every Boy

In the International Herald-Tribune, there’s an article on the social situation in Beirut, where young women outnumber young men by a ratio of five to one. The sex ratio skew is the result of the dire employment situation in Lebanon: the educated and ambitious men to seek their fortunes abroad while the women stay home (apparently the guys who stay behind are the dolts, the shiftless and the local equivalent of Ned Flanders.)

The practical upshot of all this is that when the men come home, they return to “one of the world’s most aggressive cultures of female display”. Simply put, the entire place turns into Coyote Ugly.