Online Dating

I've been somewhat slow in writing weekend reports this year because of my Year of the Girlfriend project. It's not really a full fledged project; I just happened to shift into action this December. The ticking of my biological clock (only an expected 25 years of operational lifetime remaining and it takes 20 to raise a child) has prompted me to look into growing up. Should I stay a focused technomonk making big historical innovations or should I try the conventional adult route of becoming a parent and making smaller but more certain changes to the future? That means looking around and seeing what I'm missing. I've asked various people about their lives - most seem to be happily married, some have disasterous divorces, a few have found happiness with their third wife. The general recommendation is to look for someone you can live with rather than a gorgeous but incompatible beauty. Makes sense.

So where to find eligible women? Making new acquaintances at work and play doesn't help - though I found several new friends. It turns out that the modern answer is online dating. Searching a database of profiles is much faster than trying to meet the same number of women, particularly since the ones listed there are all looking for romance. After doing some online research, I tried out Metrodate and Lavalife. Metrodate has a nicer user interface while Lavalife is more of a bondage web page - they don't let you right click to save anything, and use Flash for uploading videos and chatting. However, Lavalife is Canadian (run out of Toronto) and has more Canadian members. Their business models are different: Metrodate is a monthly subscription fee ($20ish) while Lavalife charges per message initiation (6 contacts for $20ish). That means it's easier to send messages on Metrodate (such as polite notes declining an invitation), but you also get more spam.

So how's it working out? I looked for women living nearby (20 miles) in Ottawa and found 200 profiles on Metrodate and 800 on Lavalife, and a few women found me too. There were a couple of Russian brides. An African woman with a sad tale of betrayal. A British amateur fraud. A potentially wonderful philosopher queen who doesn't seem to exist. A few women who just needed someone to talk with. A rich socialite looking for an astrologically compatible companion to share party hosting duties with. A nice quiet one who could lead to a comfortably ordinary life. Finally, there's someone who's both an interesting talker, a good walker and who amazingly is also in the computer business. Quite a rarity. Even if nothing comes of it, it's been an interesting adventure!

Ice Age 2

On Saturday afternoon I went to see Ice Age 2: The Meltdown (IMDb) at the Coliseum 12.

It started off promisingly with the obsessed squirrel "Scrat" rock climbing up an ice cliff. After amazing gymnastics with his tongue stuck to ice, he got to the acorn! But then jets of water started spouting out (first from the acorn's former hole in the ice), which he plugged with his feet, toes and other body parts while trying to hold onto the nut. Finally he used his nose, which made him start taking on water. After blowing up to an impressively spherical size, he suffered from involuntary jet propulsion, as you would expect from watching the Road Runner and Coyote. Finally someone has taken the Warner Brothers Termite Terrace studio ball and run a serious distance with it! Scrat shows up several times in the movie, generally triggering scenes of destruction or salvation and winding a thematic thread (following the ice melting) through the whole plot. Well worth seeing for Scrat alone!

The real story revolves around Manny the mammoth as he and his friends Diego the sabre toothed cat and Sid the sloth flee the impending flood of their home valley. Along the way they pick up a family of possums, one of whom looks like a female mammoth. That leads to a crazy romantic thread in the plot, combining falling in love with convincing Ellie that she's not a possum. There are also evil sea creatures chasing them, released by the breaking ice, catching up occasionally until the final climactic fight. As well, there's the passing time theme - three days until destruction. But the story is more than a convention action / romance / drama story; it's got gags crammed into the amazing density you can only get in cartoons which have been years in development under the hands of masters. That means silly things which fit in seamlessly with the plot, advancing the story in bursts of humour.

I'll enumerate a few. A marvelous whack-a-mole game when they first meet the possums. Sid trying to sing cheerful songs but they all refer to Manny going extinct: "If your species is surviving, clap your hands." The marvelous "Food, Glorious Food" musical number done in Busby Berkeley style. Squirrel Heaven. The dung beetles and their crap. I'll stop before I spoil it.

Good voice acting, excellent multithreaded story and there's so much fun stuff crammed in that I can't recall the whole movie squence - I'll have to go and see it again, and get the DVD! It's as good as Pixar's finest.

- Alex

Copyright © 2006 by Alexander G. M. Smith.