An early adventure in computer dating

Computer dating has evolved into a massive pastime that is practiced by people of all ages.

Computer dating has been around longer than most people think. How do I know? I was part of an experiment back when I was in college for the first time. If memory serves—and it doesn’t always these days—it was 1976. I was walking through the student center at my university where I passed a table behind which sat a couple of people about my age.

“Do you want to try computer dating?” one asked hopefully.

Now, the word computer was not yet part of everyday lexicon back then, so I wasn’t sure what they wanted. Still, I dutifully filled out the form, identifying my likes and dislikes, hobbies and future plans. Then I walked away and forgot about it.

Historically speaking, computer dating has been around since 1965 when a couple of undergraduate Harvard brainiacs came up with the idea and charged fellow students $3 a pop. Today, about 40 million Americans are looking for love on the Internet, people of all ages. Not surprisingly, 18-to-29-year-olds are the most likely to participate, especially since all those dating apps are available on their smart phones. But 16% of those 50 and older are scrolling to the left, as well.

If you’re a dating traditionalist, you’re probably now scoffing at the idea that one might meet a suitable mate via myriad mouse clicks, but try not to be judgmental. Note that 54% of Americans say the relationships they started on line were just as successful as those that began in person.

That’s not to say that computer dating doesn’t have it’s drawbacks. I’m looking at the folks who doctor their images so drastically that they look nothing like them in person. And those who, let’s say, over-inflate their skills, talents, or financial status. Dating bios can be rather Facebooky, where people gush about their perfect children, fabulous career, massive house, and pets that don’t shed or claw the furniture. Methinks a little authenticity might alleviate some of those awkward, initial in-person meetings.

Searching for love on the Internet would go better if people just told the truth.

My sweetie pie and I have discussed what might happen when one of us shuffles off this mortal coil.

“Please, go find someone else if I die,” I said to Ryan.

“No! After you, I’m done.”

“Aren’t you sweet! But really…”

He shook his head.

“I know I’m hard to replace, but…”

“I’m never dating again!”

I know what’s discouraged him. The kids, all in their twenties now, have shared outrageous tales wrought by computer dating, some funny, some downright scary. Still, none of them seem put off by the process that has changed substantially since 1976, when there were no photos or bios to scrutinize. Instead, the computer worked it’s magic, sorting through my application answers in an effort to spit out my perfect, on-campus mate.

The results, by the way, were laughable. Now, I’m not saying computers are stupid. (Gosh, I don’t want some rogue AI taking me out for my insolence.) Still, my brush with computer dating didn’t turn out the way I expected. Who had the machine chosen as my perfect match? A young man named Greg who I loathed. I thought he was an ass and the feeling was obviously mutual. I can still see his face after we both got the news.

Soulmates? Please, there are probably thousands of people one could be happy with.

Clearly, no date ever occurred. And yet, since I’m not all that smart, I sometimes wonder what the computer saw that I didn’t. I don’t recall much about Greg, except that I found him insufferable. But was he the perfect match for me?

Luckily, I’ve never bought into that soulmate silliness. I mean, come on, with almost eight billion people on the planet, I’m pretty sure I could live happily ever after with maybe 100,000 them.

Then again, could Greg be one of the 100,000? I’m guessing I’ll never know.

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The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books.

1 of the 3%

Ryan and I couldn’t be prouder of our son Troy who graduated from ASU this week.

My son graduated from Arizona State University this week!

I know what you’re thinking. Why, isn’t that nice! But it means so much more than that, and it’s not because he’s my kid. Mostly, it’s because many people assumed Troy would never graduate from high school, let alone an institution of higher learning.

Now, with Troy’s permission, I will explain.

I’ve written about the fact that I became a mom later in life, my children coming to me in a couple of different ways, but in Troy’s case through the foster care system. My parental journey began one summer when a child in one of my classes phoned and told me he’d been placed in the care of the state and that no one was feeding him. I was understandably appalled and quickly found myself attending foster mom school so he could come and live with me. Shortly thereafter, the small, frightened 15-year-old boy arrived at my door. Since that time, five young people have lived in my home, some of whom still call me Mom, Troy among them.

Troy’s story, like the ones all my children carry with them, is depressing. His mother died when he was two. With no father around, he was taken in by his grandmother who, though no one knew it at the time, was in the beginning stages of dementia.  When Troy began running around and acting like a little boy, his grandmother couldn’t cope, so he was medicated to make him more manageable. He was then placed in special education programs.

I remember the day we met. This blond, blue-eyed boy sat by my desk as I tried to ascertain what he was doing in my remedial reading class.

“Your test results show you read at the level of a college freshman,” I said, peering at the scores on my computer screen. “What are you doing here?”

“I don’t know.” He shrugged and smiled.

I tried to move him into a more suitable class, but the counselors refused to change his schedule, insisting Troy was a special education student—he was diagnosed as autistic— and so must belong in a reading class. For the rest of the year, I provided him with upper-level reading material, so he wouldn’t get bored.

At that point, Troy had been in foster care for about three years. After his grandmother suffered a heart attack, and his myriad aunts and uncles refused to take him in, he’d been placed in the system. Troy would, by his own account, live in ten different homes, most of the group variety, where, let’s be honest, children are housed because a paycheck from the state follows wherever they go.

No one expected Troy to graduate from high school, let alone college.

Then, near the end of his sophomore year, a miracle occurred. A young couple wanted to take him in. Why was this so astonishing? Almost no one wants to open their home to teenagers. It’s those perfect little infants people want, not complicated teens with lots of baggage. The idea of a mom and a dad was intoxicating for Troy, as he’d never had either, so he jumped at the chance. I remember feeling sad when he told me he was leaving. I can still see him walking out of my classroom for what I thought was the last time.

About a year and a half later, as I was giving a lecture, he reappeared in the doorway, though he had changed dramatically. Troy had clearly been ill. He’d gained weight. He looked lost. We spent the rest of the afternoon walking on the track behind the high school. He explained that he’d learned his mother had committed suicide, a piece of information that had been kept from him. He’d suffered a nervous breakdown upon hearing the news and the family he lived with said they no longer wanted him. He was placed in a mental institution, where he was heavily medicated. After a few weeks, he was fine. He’d suffered a personal trauma—like anyone who’d lost a loved one—and was ready to leave the hospital.

But there was a problem. No one wanted Troy. And the state had nowhere to put him. So, they just left him there. For three months! In a mental institution! On our walk that day, he explained that he’d recently been placed in a residential living facility for unwanted teens who had aged out of the system. Later, when I visited that crumbling two-story building, I was appalled by the living conditions in what had once been 1960s-era hotel and heart-broken by the lost-looking young people who lived there.

The only good thing was that Troy resided about a mile from my home. Over the next few months, my partner Ryan and I would periodically invite him to dinner. Eventually, we all decided that Troy should live with me. As he’d been hospitalized during his senior year in high school, he’d never graduated, so I signed him up at my school. He quit taking all those prescription drugs he’d been on since he was four, and Ryan and I—standing in as Mom and Dad—proudly watched him graduate.

Despite this, his biological family kept trying to have him declared legally incompetent so he could collect disability checks from the government. It seems none of them believed Troy could ever become a successful member of society.

But they were wrong. Troy entered ASU with the hope of eventually working in the hotel/restaurant industry. He took a job in a local restaurant while he carried a full load of classes. He moved into an apartment with some friends. Recently, he found a job with the Veteran’s Administration and says he hopes to one day become a dietician. He’s talked about getting his master’s degree.

Statistics prove that just under three percent of children who’ve spent time in foster care ever graduate from college, which makes Troy rare indeed.

Ryan and I could not be prouder. Troy could have become a statistic. Twenty percent of kids who age out of foster care instantly become homeless. Thirty-four percent admit to using illicit drugs. Sixty percent end up in the sex industry. Twenty-five percent will be incarcerated within two years.

But Troy will tell you that those numbers don’t matter. The only one that’s important to him is 3%.

“That’s what I want on my cake, Mom,” he said recently. “1 of the 3%.” He smiled.

And so, that’s what we did: “Congratulations, Troy! 1 of the 3%” appeared atop his cake.

You see, just a little under 3% of kids who’ve been in foster care ever make it through college.

Did I mention my son just graduated from Arizona State University?

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The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Get your copy where you buy books.

Believe it or not, scars are hot!

The resulting scars from the insertion of a metal plate and 11 screws left a couple of dandy scars on my left ankle.

I have lots of scars. Some from misadventures, like the first time I tried to shave my legs. I’m still missing a chunk of flesh on one knee cap. I have a bunch of other old wounds from various surgeries: I’ve had my shoulder pieced back together twice. I have some lower belly scars  from when doctors removed my ovaries. (Don’t worry. I wasn’t using them.)  Recently, I acquired a couple of beauties after I got Covid, passed out, and broke my leg. Because I didn’t like that particular story, I asked the surgeon to mess up my incisions a bit.

“Can we make it look more like a shark bite,” I asked just before surgery.

“No!” the doctor said, completely devoid of a sense of humor.

“But it’s a better story,” I pleaded.

He just shook his head and walked out.

Do not tell me that tough-looking, scarred-up Jason Momoa isn’t hot. Geez!

Then, a few weeks back, my sweetie pie took a fall of his own and smacked his head. The subsequent injury resulted in three stitches in his eyebrow. The funny thing was he too asked the doctor to mess up the wound a little, requesting a more jagged-looking scar. (In case you’re interested, his doctor said no, too. Spoil sports!)

Now, before you surmise that we’re both a bit off, note that studies show scars are cool. Psychologists at the Universities of Liverpool and Stirling in England did a study on whether facial scars were attractive. And it turns out…they are! Men with scars are alluring to women, the idea being that these tough-looking dudes are strong, brave, and more exciting than those sweet-faced boys with flawless skin. The scarred man is perceived as a risk-taker which ups his masculinity quotient. But here’s the thing. Those rugged-looking types are popular for a fling, while those who are scar-free are thought of as more gentle and caring, and so are better marriage material. In regard to women, studies show they are seen as no less attractive than if they didn’t have scars.

Yep! Got me a tough guy.

If you’re still not sure that scars are hot, I present exhibit A: Lethal Weapon 3, with Mel Gibson and Rene Russo. When Russo’s character gives medical treatment to a wounded Gibson, the resulting I’ll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours is both hysterical and sexy. Since we’re talking film scars, there’s also the famous scene in Jaws where the crazy captain, played by Robert Shaw, and Richard Dreyfus’ oceanographer get drunk and start comparing scars, several of the shark-bite variety.  The moment when Roy Scheider’s police chief glances down his own pants and decides not to mention his appendix scar is a scream. (Yes, I know this has nothing to do with scars being sexy, but I couldn’t pass up a good shark-bite scene.) Then there are TV shows like Vikings, where bare-chested, long-haired, scarred-up dudes strut around smacking each other with swords. And you know what I say? All that imperfection is damned alluring!

Obviously, I go for rugged men. Perhaps because on the rare occasion I dated a Mr. Pretty Boy, reality would eventually strike: He’s better looking than I am! So, give me a tough guy who’s not perfect.

Oh, wait! I already have one.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is wolf-catcher-cover-with-gray-frame.jpg

The past and present collide when a tenacious reporter seeks information on an eleventh century magician…and uncovers more than she bargained for.

WOLF CATCHER

Anne Montgomery

Historical Fiction/Suspense

TouchPoint Press

February 2, 2022

In 1939, archeologists uncovered a tomb at the Northern Arizona site called Ridge Ruin. The man, bedecked in fine turquoise jewelry and intricate bead work, was surrounded by wooden swords with handles carved into animal hooves and human hands. The Hopi workers stepped back from the grave, knowing what the Moochiwimi sticks meant. This man, buried nine hundred years earlier, was a magician.

Former television journalist Kate Butler hangs on to her investigative reporting career by writing freelance magazine articles. Her research on The Magician shows he bore some European facial characteristics and physical qualities that made him different from the people who buried him. Her quest to discover The Magician’s origin carries her back to a time when the high desert world was shattered by the birth of a volcano and into the present-day dangers of archeological looting where black market sales of antiquities can lead to murder.

REVIEW COPIES OF WOLF CATCHER AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

Available where you buy books.