Monday, July 8, 2019

Go to Hawaii and Jump the Shark

The expression "jumped the shark" pops up on the internet somewhat often.   It refers to the old "Happy Days" TV show episode where the Fonzie character is out surfing or waterskiing (I didn't see that ep) and hops over a large, nasty shark.  The point being, that was when Happy Days ran out of creative steam, ratings dwindled and then eventually was cancelled.  So when some person, political movement, fashion, hobby -- whatever -- visibly outlives its original inspiration and resorts to stunts or odd behavior to retain attention, the shark has been jumped and decline is inevitable.

Years before, back in the distant days when I watched TV shows, it had dawned on me that when the setting of the program shifted to Hawaii for an episode or two, that show had run out of ideas and was doomed.  There was more than one case of this, but that was 40 or so years ago and I can't cite examples: sorry.

I'm not sure if the folks running the programs realized what was happening in those terms.  It's possible a producer thought it was be fun to do a Hawaii-based episode as a treat or reward for the cast and the production workers.

Or maybe they did know that the end was nigh.

Regardless, when a program had a Hawaii episode, the Grim Reaper of television was lurking in the wings.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Online Dating Services, Part 1

My wife died nearly two and a half years ago.  Because I enjoy companionship, I eventually decided to try out online dating services.

I hope this doesn't squeeze all the romance out of things, but I am dealing with a numbers game in seeking the appropriate woman.

Back in high school the girls were all single -- available to one degree or another (some were "going steady" and therefore not in the dating market).  College was largely similar, though some young women were already married while others were engaged.  Still others were "pinned" to a frat man (engaged-to-be-engaged was the concept, a serious form of going steady).  And there were some simply going steady.  Nevertheless, that left plenty of gals free for dating and relationship formation.

Note that these same situations applied to women seeking men.

Roll the calendar ahead more than a few decades and the availability situation changes.  By that point, aside from the very elderly, the majority of people are married.  There also are those currently divorced or widowed or never-married.  But the latter groups are probably a minority.  Worse, they are much harder to find in the real world than back in the days of high school and college.

Sitting in a Starbucks, gazing around the room, it's not easy to decide who might be available for a date.  Okay, eliminate those wearing wedding rings -- but some of the rest might be "steady" already or not interested.

Hence, on-line dating services.  The contacts displayed are vetted as being interested in finding a partner.  And there are many of them.

How that system actually works will be presented in the next post.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

On the Road at Lot, Plus an Air Travel Note

Posting here has been sparse of late (yet again).

One reason is that my other two blogs take up most of my blogging time and energy.  Another is that I've been doing a lot of traveling the past few months: A cruise involving China and Japan in March, and a bus trip in Italy in May.  And I'll be taking a road trip to California in a few days.  Then things will calm down for the summer.

Speaking of travel, I booked a Mediterranean cruise for October from Rome and wanted to add a day or two on the French Riviera.  So I hopped on the Internet and checked out some one-way fares from Seattle to Nice.  At least two leading airlines quoted around $3,000 (!!!) to get me there coach class.  Then I tried Iceland Air, going as far as Paris.  A lot cheaper, but then I'd have to get from Paris to Nice by plane or rail, another expense.  Things were not looking good for my Riviera plan.

It suddenly dawned on me to see what might happen if I flew to Rome first and then round-trip to Nice from there.  Bingo!  I could do it for only a few hundred dollars on Alitalia.  Problem solved.

Now I wonder if a travel agent would have come to the same solution?  (I tend to use them if my proposed journey is something pretty new to me.  After that, I tend to do my own bookings totally or directly with a cruise line of bus tour company.)

Friday, May 10, 2019

On-Line Dating and Politics

My wife died a couple years ago.  Since I'm in need of a social life, I signed up with some on-line dating services for seniors.

They are useful in that you are sent a fairly large number of legitimate prospects, which means that you can play the sort of numbers game one does when screening job applicants.  That is, a certain percentage of cases clearly aren't likely to work well.

Evaluation factors can include age, appearance, hobbies, pets, preference for cites vs. nature, degree of interest in sporting activities, ditto regarding cultural activities, race, religion, health status, and several others.

Some dating sites include political leanings.  One selects an item from a range "Very Liberal" to "Very Conservative" with a "No Preference" option.  Or one can bypass this item.

The sites also allow members to write about themselves.

I've found that some women explicitly state that they do not want to meet with Trump supporters or conservatives.  So far I've seen none stating that they would refuse to meet up with a left-winger.  Perhaps that's because here in Puget Sound area politics are skewed Left.  Or maybe ladies on the right are more tolerant.

Granted, wide differences in political beliefs can be a barrier to forming good relationships.  But categorizing Trump supporters as strictly off-limits strikes me as being pretty intolerant for a political side that claims to favor tolerance.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Going to War Due to Time Constraints

World Wars 1 and 2 had many causes, some more salient than others.

One kind of cause had to do with a country opting for war because to delay would make fighting enemies in the future more risky.  This was a factor for Germany in 1914 and for Japan in 1941.

In Germany's case, a major potential enemy was the Russian Empire.  Russia was beaten by Japan in their 1904-05 war, but its military was recovering by 1914 and the country was rapidly industrializing.  German army staff planners feared that the Russians, who outnumbered Germans, would probably be considerably more formidable in just a few years.  This consideration helped push an already aggressive German Empire into war.

Japan's case is more complicated to explain.  In brief, the Japanese Empire had been at war with China for a few years.  The year before that conflict began, Japan renounced warship limitation treaties and began increasing the size of its navy.  America began building battleships again around that time, and orders for ships increased as the war in Europe wore on.

Senior Imperial Japanese Navy officers were well aware that the USA could massively out-build Japan in all weapons categories, so renouncing limitation treaties was probably unwise while emotionally satisfying.  As 1941 wore on, the US imposed resource restrictions on Japan, oil and steel in particular, in an effort to persuade Japan to end its war with China.  Expansion-minded Japanese officers who dominated government policy at that time then had the choices of (1) acceding to American wishes, (2) waiting matters out while their petroleum reserves gradually depleted and America launched far more warships than Japan could, or (3) starting war soon while resources were at hand and America's ships were yet to be commissioned.  The third option was selected in the hope that Japan could quickly attain its conquest aims and that then America and Britain would agree to a peace treaty at that point rather than fight a bloody war to the finish.  But the war proved to be long and Japan was crushed by mid-1945.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

When You Feel You're Really There

Sorry, but I forget the Web site that inspired this post.  What it did was present the idea of being someplace and thinking "Wow, I'm really here!"

I got that feeling many years ago during my Army days when I'd get a weekend pass and go into New York City.  Just seeing the skyline would trigger that reaction.

What does the triggering is strongly related to characteristics of the place and, usually, their fame.  Moreover, different aspects of the place will trigger different people.  And of course the person normally is primed for the reaction to the degree that the place is of passionate interest.  For example, for some folks viewing the Eiffel Tower yields the "Wow, I'm really in Paris!" reaction.  For me it's being along the Seine in the vicinity of the Ile de la Cité which happens to strike me as being even more Parisian than the tower.  Results vary.

Citing the Eiffel Tower suggests that being near a particularly famous structure or place is probably the most common source of the "Wow, I'm here!" reaction.  The "I'm really in Rome!" reaction is probably usually set off by viewing the Forum, Colosseum or St. Peter's.

On the other hand, I think that for places such as San Francisco or Seattle it's their overall settings that do the trick.  Which does not totally rule out being triggered by being at Fisherman's Wharf or seeing the Space Needle.  I suspect the general settings of Paris and Rome are far less likely to evoke strong, positive emotional reactions than the more focused sites noted above.

Regardless, the strong, positive emotional reaction is one of life's pleasures.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Whither National Geographic

The USA's National Geographic Society (Wikipedia entry here) has been abound since 1888, and its well-known magazine for almost that long.

I can remember as a child looking at my grandparents' copies.  My parents didn't get around to subscribing until I was perhaps college age.  By then, I found myself almost never reading through an entire article.  The one thing I always did enjoy in those days was their maps: I still have a number of them in my map collection, a few dating back to around 1920.

In the first 50 or so years of its existence the Society sponsored discovery expeditions along with commissioning reports about places known, but unlikely to be visited by most readers.  In the 1920s and 1930s such places would include Brittany and other parts of France.  To get there, a reader would have to take a long train ride to an East Coast port (if he didn't live near one) and then sail across the Atlantic on a steamship -- all this before getting to the target area (and having to retrace his steps getting home).  Most folks back then did not have the time and money for such travel, so the Geographic served as a handy proxy.

One of the few useful concepts I can recall from my sociology training was that organizations would usually try their damndest to continue existing after their original reason for existence had vanished.  So it seems to be for the Society.  By around 1960 there were no longer significant unexplored places on earth and comparatively fast, inexpensive jet air travel made overseas tourism practical for a much larger portion of the American population.  Ever since, the Society has pushed into new fields and seems to have thrived.

Alas, for me what the Society does and what its now-many publications show are not unique to it.  There are other sources of information covering the same topics.  Even worse, in my opinion, the Society has allowed itself to drift into supporting political positions that are corruptive of best scientific practice.  An example is "Climate Change," where research practices have tended to fall short of scientific method as exemplified by Karl Popper and Richard Feynman.