Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Best International Customs and Practices That We Don't Do in the U.S.


In NBC's now-canceled sitcom, Heroes (yes, I'm a nerd), Sylar had the ability of absorbing other people's super powers. I sometimes feel like Sylar; only, rather than absorb abilities like regeneration, reading minds, flying, or stopping time, I absorb people's cultures – their energies, their lives, experiences, and what makes them who they are. Sometimes, I even start adopting their accents and broken English, before I notice and start thinking to myself, "what the hell am I doing?!?! I sound like a moron!" (Which everyone already thinks to begin with.)

I live for exploring new countries – partially for the sights, but more so to learn about its people and how they live, laugh, eat, and love. I'm addicted. I can't get enough.

When I travel to other countries, I spend very little time in museums, at monuments, and fancy restaurants – instead opting to interact with the locals, sharing a beer, spending time in their homes, eating at places where all can enjoy. I like to challenge what I know, which challenges my comfort zone. I love it.

Here are just some of the things I love... and am confused as to why we don't do them here:

1. Kisses on the Cheek – I LOVE kissing complete strangers on the cheek. Sometimes I put a little tongue on that cheek as well. It really freaks them out and reminds them to move away from me as soon as possible. And that's just the guys! For women, my cheek kisses linger just a little too long for comfort. I like to close my eyes and moan a bit, as if I've just taken a bite of crème brulée. This, too, quickly tells the women to avoid me at all costs. For the people who live in those countries, I'd imagine it's an excellent ice-breaker, leads to warmer interactions, and a greater comfort level.

2. Siestas – Originally created to get workers out of the hot afternoon sun, it's now a tradition amongst many Spanish-speaking nations, as well as in Italy and Greece. A siesta is a break in the early afternoon (typically 2 to 5pm), used for a nap or an extended lunch with a heavy emphasis on relaxation. In countries that practice, you can forget about shopping or eating during those times. I love it simply for the fact that it slows down the pace of life and you see people enjoying each other's company during hours that – in the U.S. – you typically see people running each other over with a cell phone in hand. For me, it's great because right when the siesta is starting, I'm just waking up and can participate in daytime drinking.

3. Taking Shoes Off At the Door – This is maybe the most logical thing done in Asian and Eastern European countries that makes no sense as to why we don't do it here in the States. Why would you walk on people's spit, gum, dog poop, dirt, grease, and every other filthy thing imaginable and then bring that into your house? Have you ever sat on your floor? Walked on your floor barefoot? Laid down on your floor? Had sex on your floor? Would you do that on the sidewalk!?!? How could you relax with your shoes on anyway!?!? (These aren't Al Bundy's God Shoes, for pete's sake!) So keep your floors clean, starting with taking your shoes off at the door!

4. Pouring Other People's Drinks – I love playing the part of the host, so I always make sure people's cups are filled at my house. In Japan, it's actually a custom that you don't pour your own drinks. Therefore, everyone gets sh*t-faced. I love the generous nature of it all, but also the symbolism of taking care of those around us. It's good practice to always be considerate and aware of other's needs in friendship, work, and relationships.

5. Respecting Elders – I think the United States is the only place I've witnessed where the elderly are sent off to live in homes. Think about that. These are your parents. Your grandparents. Do we live in a society that has taught us to be that selfish?!? In other countries, the elderly are revered and respected -- you bow, make sure they eat first/last, and are taken care of. That's the way it should be.

6. Roundabouts – When I drove through my first roundabout in Europe, I was pretty scared. I envisioned that scene when Chevy Chase drove round and round all day long until nightfall because he couldn't get to the outside lane to exit. Fortunately that didn't happen -- it only took me three hours. Roundabouts are so much more efficient and reduce traffic. There's a common misconception about ethnic people being bad drivers. Let's clarify that. It's only some of the ethnic people who came here to the U.S. Because if you've ever been to any Asian, Latin, or Eastern European country, those people can drive with an entire family of six on a scooter, around the ledge of a narrow cliff in a full-size bus, or weaving in and out of traffic on a one-lane road while you're screaming in the back seat wishing you had told your mother – one last time – that you loved her. Stop your stupid, clichéd, blanket statement stereotypes.

7. Long-Term Planning – You don't have the money? You don't spend it in other countries! Here in the States, you have all these idiots who mortgage their future for an expensive car, designer clothes, or new electronics. It's one thing to borrow against your future for advanced education or to start a business, but for unnecessary items that you saw Jay-Z wearing?!? My man, E-40, once rapped, "Don't buy an $85k car, before you buy a house!" -- maybe the most practical life lesson a rapper has ever spit out. Short-sightedness isn't just complacent in our buying culture, but also in our reduction culture! Global Warming is NOT a Democratic or Republican issue, but it has turned into that, since what one party champions, the other must refute. Here, we must wait for something bad to be practically upon us before we enact any sort of change -- like there's anything wrong with conserving, recycling, and saving today!

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That's not to say that we, Americans, don't have some great things to teach the rest of the world. McDonald's anyone?!? Am I right?!!? The Big Mac is an American icon! How about the fact we politely greet everyone with a "hi," "how are you doing?," or a head nod -- even when we don't know a person -- while a large part of the rest of the world practices something called, "resting bitch face." We like to spread good cheer here in the states! Also, perhaps nothing speaks to our character the most than when it comes to helping out those in need -- in particular, natural disasters. No matter what tragedy -- tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, disease -- Americans will be on the front line helping with the relief effort. Don't get me wrong, I love my country!

Still, learn about other cultures. REALLY learn. Next time you're in another country, put down that Lonely Planet and see the country through your own eyes and experiences. Go to a supermarket and see what food options the locals have. Walk around and listen to the people around you, their conversations, and their mannerisms. Make friends with people who aren't from English-speaking countries. Dance like no one's watching. Take your shoes off at a local park with a bottle of wine, some cheese, and read a book. Relax. Breathe it in. You'll be glad you did.

Sincerely,
Kevin L.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

These Friends of Mine are Killing It at Life

Every once in awhile I like to highlight my friends who are doing amazing things -- because I support all my friends and am not a hater. (Also, if they hit it rich, I'd like to be able to use their boats, summer homes, and eat their leftovers after waiting patiently by the kitchen door like a stray dog. Then I will return to the pool house, where I somehow never leave, like I'm Kato Kaelin.)

While there's no ESPN Anchor friends, like last time... this list is still impressive.

Mo Nabhani


Most of the time I travel because I feel like it. But sometimes, I see pictures from Mo on my Facebook newsfeed and he's in some new country, and then it becomes a competition. I immediately book a ticket out of the country so as not to be outdone by Mo and his buddies. Since I can't win at anything else in life, I figure traveling to the most countries will be that lone win for me. (Although, the other day, this girl on Tinder said she had been to 86 countries. WTF! I immediately stopped talking to her because I didn't want to go back to being a loser with zero wins in life!!!) Mo and his buddy started a company called Wanderlust Tomorrow that sets you up with affordable adventures that you only dreamt were possible. Check out their Facebook page here or their website.

Kenzi Wang


Kenzi has been on a roll lately with his company being accepted at 500 Startups and then Y Combinator, the most prestigious incubator of them all. That's like going to Michael Mina for dinner at 6pm and then having an encore dinner at French Laundry at 9pm. Last time I saw him, he had the look of a successful man, whereas I had the look of a weathered migrant rice farmer. Kenzi's company, Traction, is a marketplace for brands and companies to find the most effective digital marketers to run their marketing campaigns. Check it out here.

Melissa Low


Melissa and I used to run the Santa Monica steps together, before I would beg of her to leave me as my jello-y legs could no longer move. While Melissa continues to run upwards with her career, I remain stretching at the bottom, afraid of injuries and sweating. (This is what we call a metaphor... I think. I wasn't a very good English student.) Melissa has the job that we all envy, because most of us would pay to do it. While she would never admit it, since she's far too humble, Melissa has had a very large role in expanding the presence of boxing in China. Fights that started with Pacquiao in Macau, she was integral in bringing in celebrities from around the world, placing stars like G-Dragon next to Paris Hilton. Zou Shiming, China's Gold Medal winner in boxing in two Olympics, has been huge in raising the profile of boxing in his home country. Like Jerry Maguire's hand showing up in the pictures of his athletes, somewhere lurking nearby Zou is Melissa's hand. (That doesn't sound weird or creepy at all!) Check out this commercial Melissa placed Zou in for Beats By Dre.

De'Niel Phipps


De'Niel is that one black friend that I have that allows me to make borderline inappropriate remarks. Like, "I can't be racist, because I have black friends." (Then I pull up a picture of him, just to show people.) I actually only make inappropriate remarks to him to keep up with his inappropriate Asian remarks. We laugh and laugh and laugh. And then we look around uncomfortably, hoping no one has heard what we just said and quickly change the topic to the latest weather conditions. De'Niel is an Emmy award-winning director and cinematographer who is working on a documentary about his hometown, Saginaw, Michigan, and the athletes that have come out of this small community of 50,000. It's amazing the number of professional athletes (many of whom De'Niel has already interviewed) who hail from the region: Magic Johnson, Serena Williams, Draymond Green, Jason Richardson, Lamar Woodley and many more. Check out his website here.

And, finally, so that everyone will forgive me for whatever transgressions I have made (Knibb High Football rules!)...

Mothers and Fathers


What an incredibly awesome feeling it must be to bring a life into the world. And what an incredibly difficult process it must be to raise a fine, upstanding human being. It's an ever-challenging and never-ending job. Just look at me and my sibling; one turned out successful, married, with kids, while the other demands meatloaf from his poor mother at all hours of the day. Even though many of my friends say that I probably already have numerous children, I don't feel it counts as I have not contributed anything towards their child-rearing. Of course, if they show a proficiency towards athletics or academics, I will immediately ask to be a part of their lives... and stay there! (Not like Will Smith's asshole dad on Fresh Prince!) I plan to read zero books on raising a child, since 90% of my friends have kids. I'll just post important questions on Facebook to get a consensus, like, "I left my newborn baby in the bathtub, should I... A) Watch a movie? B) Make a Chipotle run? Or C) Take a nap?"

Well, there you have it! Don't be one of those haters who lurk in the background of Facebook, hating on people for being successful in life, or really happy, or ridiculously good-looking. Spread love, my friends! Take risks in life and remember to give back... (starting with housesitting duties for me at your vacation villa in the Mediterranean).

Sincerely,
Kevin L.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The 8 Different Types of Crazy Travelers You Encounter


I think it's somewhat easy to ascertain that I'm addicted to traveling. Having hit up most of the world's most popular tourist destinations, I've now moved on to places that are off the grid – in search of new experiences to shock my senses – where people may confuse me for some rich, successful, charming socialite, rather than a poor, bumbling neanderthal.

My addiction carries over to everything I do.

At the end of Schindler's List, Oskar Schindler is nearly in tears as he looks upon the hundreds of Jews he's saved and realized that he could've saved even more by selling his valuable personal items, or having never bought them in the first place. When it comes to traveling, I'm like Oskar Schindler, only I'm not saving persecuted Jews from death, I'm crying over each dollar that could've been spent on a trip where I could've posted a shirtless selfie.

(Having re-read the above paragraph, I'm quite certain Hell would usher me to the front of the line ahead of Bill Cosby. If it helps, I do donate to charitable causes.)

Anyhow, every dollar that I make and spend I think about in terms of what else I could be doing with that money. In the economic world, we call this "opportunity cost." (BAM. Take that to everyone who thought I didn't pay attention in school! I not only spent countless hours looking at the clock, but I also occasionally listened. Just call me Mr. Microeconomics.)

When I see someone with an iPad, I think about how I'd rather put that $500 towards a plane ticket to Central America. When I see someone wearing a pair of $200 jeans, I think about how that would be a week's worth of expenses in a foreign country. When I see a stoplight, I run right through it, to save the wear and tear on my brakes, so that I can avoid buying new ones. When I decide between two-ply and single-ply toilet paper, I always choose single-ply even though I love Mexican food.

To all my travels and my fellow travelers, no matter what type you are, I pay you tribute:

1. THE WEEKEND WARRIOR

Yes, this is a traveler as well. Their escapism takes place in their homes. Not everyone is fortunate to be able to get away for a weekend or an extended trip – either financially, occupationally, or familial(y) – and that's what makes these guys and gals so much fun to be around. Going to a barbecue and/or sporting event at their house is like going to an amusement park for your midsection and a viewing of SkyMall's best products all in one place. Barbecue grill made from stainless steel 24 karat gold with built-in air-conditioning? Got it. Zombie figurine crawling out of the garden? Of course. Best alcohol collection in the neighborhood? Beer pong table? Cornhole? Bacon-wrapped everything? Two-ply toilet paper? 1000 thread count Egyptian combed cotton sateen sheets? You bet.

2. THE WEEKEND GONER

Living in Northern California – truly one of the world's best and most underrated areas – plenty of people depart every weekend for a few days in Napa/Sonoma (the precedent and standard-bearer in wine-tasting escapism), or Lake Tahoe (snowboarding/skiing in winter and watersports/outdoor recreation in summer), Las Vegas (a one hour flight), Santa Cruz (for beaches), or Yosemite National Park (for Mother Nature's masterpieces). These people may not always be able to go overseas for vacation, but they're gone every weekend exploring their surrounding areas and loving every moment of it.

3. THE ROADTRIPPER

Back when I was young, my Dad was fanatical about road trips all across the United States. While I hated it as a kid, because I had to sit in a car all day long (mind you this is before Nintendo's Gameboy had been invented and WAY before TV/DVD players were a standard in every family vehicle), I now feel fortunate to have been able to see so much of the countryside. So many cars I saw (while playing the ABC game) and McDonald's visited (this is also WAAAY before artificial flavors, sugars, pesticides, organic, and gluten had been "invented") as we drove from Texas to Florida, Texas to New York, Texas to Chicago, Texas to California... I carried on the tradition in college, back when people in the same age bracket could also conceivably throw away responsibility for a few days. Now, it's relegated to my solo vacations, where I am the most irresponsible person on earth.

4. THE ONCE-A-YEAR  

I've often spoken out against the arcane, and archaic, vacation policies afforded Americans. While the rest of the developed world is given up to five weeks vacation (25+ days: France, U.K., Brazil), or four weeks (20 days: Germany, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden... heck, even Afghanistan, no joke), the United States is not required to give ANY! Most employers still end up offering vacation time, but, on average, it only amounts to 10 days. And with using a vacation day here and there for a wedding, a birthday, or a weekend trip, that vacation time – by the time you use it – ends up being more like five days for you to plan a week-long getaway. Americans end up settling with going to Mexico, Hawaii, or the Bahamas, EVERY year, because traveling any further would take up two entire days of travel just getting to and from the destination. But... those five days, that person will be the happiest and drunkest (and most sunburnt) person on the beach!

5. THE CRUISE SHIPPER/TOUR ADDICT

Many people like the comfort of a set itinerary, a tour where the destinations, hotels, and even food may be laid out to them under a set cost. My father, for instance, loves the mindless-ness of it all. He doesn't have to think about one thing, other than enjoying the sights and sounds before him. (Unless I'm with him, then he is thinking about what a complete failure and disappointment I am to him. Each new tourist site becomes a reminder of how mankind has evolved, except for his only son. Great Wall of China?!? A symbol of the accomplishments of man and the lack of accomplishments of his son. The Forbidden City?!? A reminder of all the dynasties and family-building as the generations continued through children and how his only son is still not married and without kids.) Whoops. Did this paragraph devolve into my relationship with my dad, Ike Turner? Anyhow, the Tour Addict only needs to worry about their cocktail-in-hand, tan, what shot glass to buy at each port, and getting their hair braided.

6. THE TOPICAL HIGHLIGHTER

This person has graduated from the local beach destinations and has maybe accrued more vacation over the years as his/her wealth and occupational position has grown. On top of an annual beach locale, they're now going to a new destination each year. They start out with the major ones that have been around since the beginning of the invention of international tourism, like London, Paris, Rome, Greece, Spain, Germany, before moving on to a second-tier of up-and-comers, that Clark Griswold would never have thought of, like Thailand, Rio De Janeiro, Australia, Croatia, China, Costa Rica. With each new destination, more foreign to them than the last, the Topical Highlighter becomes more addicted to exploring new destinations and spends much of the year thinking and planning out their next trip.

7. THE INDIANA JONES

This traveler has done all the highlights and no longer finds solace in places that have a Lonely Planet book dedicated to them. He/she needs to forge their own path in a country, spending time with the people, learning the culture, and discovering gems down streets and trails forgotten. The Indiana Jones makes new friends in every country and somehow ends up living in that complete stranger's home a few days afterwards. He/she walks, bikes, takes public transportation, rents scooters and cars... without a map. The less information the Indi knows about a destination, the less preconceived notions, which allows the formulation of his/her own ideas. The Jones can be a loner, spending hours by himself, yet being the most sociable person when around people. I, myself, relate closest to this traveler, along with my personal kinship towards Count Chocula. In the end, the Indiana Jones still needs to periodically return to a rooted existence as he's missed and revered by thousands... probably even millions of people.

8. THE PERPETUAL NOMAD

This traveler is the envy of all their friends, having the guts to take all of society's expectations, capitalistic brainwashing, and familial pressures, and challenge them by living their life in foreign countries. Whether they bounce from country to country every few months, or live for a few years in each destination, they are showing that not everyone has to choose a life where they graduate college, get a job, get married, have kids, and pay off their mortgage for the next 30 years – in that order. That's not to say they'll never do it, but they will do it within their own timeframe and have an amazing time in-between! This person's daily pictures might consist of a picture with a tiger, having a beer in the Rain Forest, lounging in a hammock on a desolate beach, or volunteering in a third world country with underprivileged kids. This person may or may not have it figured out, but they sure as heck don't care what you think. And they'd be the last to judge you on your decisions.

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When it's all said and done, there is no wrong way to do a vacation. We all find our releases in different ways. A person doing yoga every day may find a spiritual connection with the world around them. When we read a book and allow our minds to drift off into a new world, completely unaware of our surroundings... When two people share each other's bodies and love one another... all these feelings can be euphoric – a release from physical and mental constraints and worries.

Might it be that's what it's all about?

There's a scene in Training Day where a doped up Ethan Hawke says he's got the streets figured out: "You gotta control your smiles and cries, because that's all you have and nobody can take that away from you."

Amen.

KL

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Best Free Dating Apps and Websites: The Only Guide You'll Ever Need

If only I had better photoshop skills, I would be riding a unicorn naked in my profile pics as well.

For anyone who's spent even two minutes on a dating website or app, you know there are three things synonymous to every female's profile:

A. Loves to travel
B. Is a foodie
C. Is not here for a hookup

Without a doubt, we are living in a golden age of travel ease, inventive cooking, and quick hookups. It would almost seem more relevant for someone to post: "I am a homebody, I prefer bland, redundant meals, and want to go to the bone zone 24/7 with whomever messages me." Now THAT would be a revelation! I, for one, suggest that people stop saying A, B, C, and just move on to things that mean something.

Recently, I had a recruiter reach out to me about a position to be the Chief Content Officer of a new dating app. At first, I was rather excited, because I wanted to expand upon the number of people who referred to me as "chief"; from one -- the gas station attendant -- to possibly three or four. To be clear, I am certainly not looking for any work, as my sister has dubbed me "an international man of leisure," and I like to live up to that billing. But I was intrigued by a dating app, since that's right up my alley. Heck, I get B+ just for showing up, right, right?

I won't name the company, because, frankly, I don't like to kiss and tell. (But if you ask me with one alcoholic beverage in my system, IT'S ON!) Sadly, I don't think the app will be successful, no matter what their focus groups tell them. After playing around with the app for a few hours, I felt like Tom Hanks in Big when he's playing around with the transformer "building" and raises his hand to the execs and goes, "I don't get it." I'm about all the focus group you need when it comes to dating and apps, because I'm dumb enough, with a ridiculously low attention span, to see if I can understand an app, and just smart enough to not walk into oncoming traffic. I'm what you call, "low-risk, low-reward." You can have that engraved on my tombstone.

Besides not believing in the product, the backgrounds of all the execs on the team? Married. Wait. What?!? I don't get it. If you have a dating app, I'd hope that someone on the team is a living and breathing embodiment of your number one user.

With that said, I shall give you my definitive review of all the free dating apps and websites I've used. (To give you a preview, Zoosk is the worst of them all!) I will also use some hard-to-understand 5-something rating scale. (*My reviews are based on Silicon Valley usage, where we have the highest concentration of males to females in the U.S. and laws of typical dating are completely disregarded.)

TINDER – The darling of the web. She of questionable founder origins and even more questionable founder morals. Tinder is so quick and easy – swiping right if you like a person, and swiping left if you don't – that I hardly ever message people on it anymore. I just want to see who I match with "nearby." I'm addicted to swiping. Even those I match with -- when both people have swiped right to each other -- 90% percent I have buyer's remorse, and the 10% I message, 8% never message me back.

It's just too convoluted of a system, with FAR too many men in Silicon Valley bombarding women with redundant and creepy messages. You know those clubs you go to where there's SOOO many guys that all the girls are dancing in a circle with each other, acting like lesbians, in a desperate attempt to fend off the swarm of three-deep douchebags waiting to get their freak on? That's like Tinder.

2 of 5 Valyrian Steel Swords because I treat this app more like a game than an actual means to dating. (I chose Valyrian Steel in lieu of stars, because it's the best and I am a nerd. Valar Morghulis!)

COFFEE MEETS BAGEL – Formerly only for gluten-free-eating, skinny jean-wearing elitist iPhone users, CMB has now branched out to include the lower-class citizens on Android. Too bad Android users will laugh this one back to iOS as they walk to the trailer park with their Otter Pop popsicles. (disclosure: former lifelong Android user, now two weeks into my test iOS phase.) The founders should've taken Mark Cuban's hypothetical "$30 Million." This app -- get this -- gives you ONE match a day. If you both like each other, you have a window of 8 days to message each other.

No offense, but do you know how many unattractive people there are in Silicon Valley? Okay, that sounds majorly superficial, but let's not be a hypocrite here. Initially, looks matter somewhat. I have been on CMB for over two weeks and have been matched with only one person over 5 (out of a Bo Derek 10). If you want to test your luck out on some other girls, you have 10 new options a day, but no guarantees. To even "take" or "like" one of those 10 girls, you have to use beans, which you must buy. Everyone is basically moving at this "one-a-day" snail's pace. You could be waiting all year! With the environment we live in, patience is thin and plenty of other apps means that people are probably not falling over themselves to pay for a crapshoot in the form of beans. But kudos to the team for trying to monetize so early. If only there were value first....

2 of 5 Mini-Bagel Pizza Bites because they do some nice things with trying to get people to promote the product for them to get more beans!

HINGE – This is the app I tell all my friends about. In fact, it may even sound like a paid endorsement. (It's not. Although I welcome all forms of attempted bribery. It can't be unethical if you just accept it, right? Jack in the Box sends me free vouchers all the time and it hasn't swayed me one bit. I still go to Jack -- or Tastytown, as I like to call it -- on my own volition to eat their delicious, mouth-watering Spicy Sriracha Burger. Now here for a limited time!) Hinge, gives you matches through 2nd and 3rd degree Facebook connections, which means there's much less chance that someone's going to ask you to go to bone zone (that's my new favorite adult term for 'sex') within the first few messages. Unlike CMB, you get multiple matches a day. It used to be just 10 matches at noon, but now it's sporadic to keep you coming back for more.

The reason why I like this app the best is simple: RESULTS. I have had the most meaningful conversations and the most actual dates through this app. Heck, some of the girls were actually attractive! And not all of them went to the bathroom only to never return or had a phone call interrupt our date after 10 minutes with an "emergency." I'd say that's a win-win for everyone!

5 of 5 Eddard Stark Heads (he was a good man) for not over-doing it with options and not under-doing it in an attempt to get us to pay. Freeeeeeedom! (William Wallace. I think he lost his head too. He was also a good man.)

PLENTY OF FISH – I really like POF. It's the original "old-school" free dating website, that now has an app. You can see and read anyone's profile, message them, see who's viewed you, see who's mutually "liked" you, but it also has reasonable paid elements. You can see who wants to meet you, upload more images, see if someone's read your message, and show up more prominently when women are browsing profiles.

I feel like women are looking for more real relationships on this site and are more receptive to messages than OKCupid (which I'll get into next). The site is not an example of design or UI excellence, because they keep their staff to a minimum. But they do a good, honest job, without trying to extort the user at every turn. It's almost impossible to close the site when they keep giving you options of new girls when clicking "back" from any page. Nice move, POF.

4 of 5 Finding Nemos because I like the blue-collar background of this company and the general word-of-mouth advertising they've relied on. It's all about dating results.

OKCUPID – Nobody does data better than OkCupid. What was once my most boringest class in college -- statistics -- has now become the caterpillar that turned into a butterfly. (I don't even know if that makes sense, I've been up so long...) I'm like the Karate Kid, forced to paint fences and wax cars, only to realize all those meaningless motions actually meant something. OkCupid asks users to answers relevant dating/personality questions (the more, the better) to try and form the best percentage matches between users. Not only do they give you your compatibility percentage between each person, but also the percentage chances you may be an "enemy"!

Just like POF, you can browse and message for free, but if you want to show up more prominently, see who already likes you, or search by attractiveness (they have gameified ratings to come up with the most "attractive"), you have to pay a monthly fee. While I feel women are more serious about a relationship on POF, the folks over at OkCupid are doing an amazing job. The site is innovative and continues to stay fresh, adding "web 2.0"-type games and swiping.

4 of 5 Arrows because I love data and admire the founders for their easy-to-understand and presentable nature of their nerdiness.

ZOOSK – Don't even try it. It's a spam machine. It tries to disguise itself as a free dating website/app, but it's really a pay-for-everything, horrible matches, but I'll email you when someone breathes on your page, "dating" site. Born in the middle of the website era and the app craze, it does neither well. If anything, it is a relentless advertising vehicle, so you're sure to have heard of it through a sponsored listing or advertisement on the side of your Facebook newsfeed. Advertisements can only trick so many idiots onto a site. After that, you'll need natural, organic word-of-mouth from satisfied customers to sustain growth. (See every blockbuster motion picture.)

1 of 5 Spam Burgers because I dislike sites that act as the web version of a creepy used-car salesman, who tries to fast-talk you into making a decision you'll later regret.

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Well, there you have it -- the definitive guide on using technology as the cheapest ice-breaker on the planet! Spend money trying to find the love of your life!??! As if! (What a hoot that Cher was...) Maybe I should make one pop-culture reference in this post that isn't from the 80s or 90s. Hmmmm... I don't know. I can't think of any. Buuuuuut, I'll be back!

Until then, from one prominent Chief to a commoner, may you find the woman or man of your dreams – that rare breed of person who loves food, traveling, and sex with someone they've gotten to know. Good luck with that!

Sincerely,
Kevin L.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What Amal and George Clooney Mean to Single Women and Bachelors Everywhere


I've often-times been compared to George Clooney. The charm. The jetsetting. The playboy ways. The handsomeness. The way women swoon over me...

Okay. That's a lie. I've never been compared to George Clooney. But in my own head, I've drawn comparisons with his life and mine. (I've also drawn comparisons to Frida, Einstein, and Count Chocula, but the "institution" advises me not to mention this in public. And I've been good for six months! Dr. Chan says I can have visitors any day now!) As Clooney traveled the world, a new woman in hand every few years, spending time on his Lake Como estate (very relatable to that time I spent a few nights at Motel 6 in Bakersfield), aging better each year, I couldn't help but wonder would I also "suffer" the same fate as Clooney? Finishing out my 30s, going into my 40s,  maybe even my 50s and beyond, without ever finding "the one"? – yet, still being ridiculously good-looking?

Say what you want about me, but know that I have always considered myself a hopeless romantic.

During this year's Golden Globes, when Clooney delivered his speech after accepting the Cecil B. Demille Lifetime Achievement Award, he said that: "It's a humbling thing when you find someone to love -- even better when you've been waiting your whole life. And when your whole life is 53 years, Amal, whatever alchemy it is that brought us together, I couldn't be more proud to be your husband."

I found myself tearing up at that part more than his wife.

Many times over the years, I imagined how overwhelming, encompassing, and fulfilling it would be when I finally met that person for whom I've "waited my whole life." I'm almost certain there will be no shortage of tears. It's been that long of a search.

In my 36 years, I have thus far not settled with what I'm looking for, and hope that I never will, living my life in a way I have seen no previous blueprint.

But when your father -- who recently turned 70 -- tells you that he may have "10 more years to live," or your mother says that "if you have kids soon, we'll still be able to help out" it forces your hand towards immediacy. I don't have the type of parents that say, "we just want you to be happy." It's always disheartening and a deeply saddening thought for me that I cause my parents such concern and grief. And of course I want my kids to know their amazing grandparents.

As much as people tell me to not worry and to "live my life," my love of my parents and the empathy I have for them will never allow me towards a truly care-free existence. Otherwise, if I lacked empathy, I would probably be living in a new country every year and say, "to hell with what my parents and society says is the norm."

I regularly receive emails from women asking me whether a guy they're seeing is "playing" them and what they should do about it. I respond to every single email, first, asking more questions -- because every situation is unique -- then, mostly coming up with the conclusion that something is amiss. If you have to write a complete stranger for advice, chances are the guy is no good.

I always tell these women to work on themselves, for themselves, because there's nothing you can -- or should -- be doing to try to gain and sustain the attention of a guy. Do it for you.

Amal Clooney is about as accomplished and passionate about her work as anyone else in their respective fields. As mentioned in the Globes broadcast, she's "a human-rights lawyer who worked on the Enron case, was an adviser to Kofi Annan regarding Syria, and was selected for a three-person U.N. commission investigating rules of war violations in the Gaza Strip..."

Of all the women that George Clooney ever dated, it was Amal's combination of beauty, passion, AND intelligence that enlightened him towards the notion that he was actually missing something in his life.

Ambitious and intelligent men are almost always only satisfied with strong, ambitious, and intelligent women, (see all of Silicon Valley's tech company luminaries).

So, to all the women who are concerned about a certain guy and why he may not call you, ask you out, or only calls during late-night hours, there are some things that are within your control, and that's to be the best version of you -- someone who loves their work, strives to better themselves, and continues to challenge herself in new ways. Most importantly, it's to love yourself. Guys will need to be at their best to keep up with you, and not the other way around.

Looking at George Clooney, he's has had no shortage of options in beauty. But, like all the women who have tied down "heartthrobs" and "players," we know that attraction is more than just skin-deep. Beauty is fleeting.

Seeing Clooney get married did give me hope for my own future in love and strengthened my resolve in waiting. I've never stated a desire for perpetual bachelorhood; I do, however, hope to find a strong, articulate, confident, intelligent, beautiful woman, like Amal Clooney -- someone who wants me, but doesn't need me -- so that I can be "proud to be her husband."

The way George looked at Amal during his speech, and the way she looked at him back, I don't think there was any person in that room who thought Amal was the lucky one.

Sincerely,
Kevin L.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Goodbye SVB

When I scroll through my newsfeed on Facebook and see a stream of former classmates and friends all married, with kids – some of whom have even started high school! – I wonder whether I made some wrong decisions in my life. Should I not have pushed away that sweet and caring television reporter? Or that hilarious and fun banker? Or what about that intelligent and ambitious single mother? Regardless, it was always something. I question whether I will ever be satisfied.

Maybe I'm going through a mid-life crisis. I don't know. For as long as I've written Silicon Valley Bachelor – almost seven years – the tagline has always been, "ludicrous, belligerent, irresponsible..." And for a number of years, I was always happy to oblige. You want someone to party with? That's going to be me. It was a persona that worked well. A brand that took on a life of its own. But lately, it's a burden and a representation I feel less and less comfortable with.

On several recent "party" outings, I had an overwhelming sense of NOT wanting to be there. Maybe it's the negative consequence of extensive travel – finding my home environment neither intriguing or interesting anymore. Or maybe I really didn't want to be there. The same types of people doing the same types of clichéd things. And none more clichéd than me.

The most intriguing woman I ever met once wrote to me:

"Despite the fact that you’re an undeniable gentleman, you’ve spent a lot of your adult life crafting a public persona and a career out of celebrating beauty and sexuality, something to which I’m sympathetic but also deeply wary. Beauty is fleeting."

What she wrote was the moment I had been dreading for years. Someone that I truly, genuinely liked calling me out on my bullshit. And there's a lot to choose from. I'd always known that by being openly forthcoming with tales of dating, courtship, and partying (although I never got graphic or named names), that it might one day impede my chances with someone who actually mattered. She mattered.

Everything I've written has always been an extension of who I am – not WHO I am. Unfortunately, sometimes the most entertaining aspects of what I write is what sticks.

Too often, I feel I must live up to this persona I've embellished and molded for myself. Half the things I write never get posted, because I worry they won't entertain enough people – that those who are reading might not laugh. 700,000 people have now read a story on this site. And rather than be empowered, I feel more beholden than ever. Even throughout this post, I struggle to not make a mockery of myself through jokes – because that's what I believe you want.

Does this mean I no longer want to go out and have drinks? Dance the night away? Or make people laugh? Absolutely not. Making people laugh is what I take the most pride in over these last seven years. It's the one thing about myself that I'm sure of.

I don't have any of the answers to what this next chapter of my life holds. I spend more time searching and questioning than knowing. It's time to take back my persona, whatever it is, or may become...

In the end, you can try and make yourself desirable to everyone, but you can also end up being a sad caricature of no one. A cliché. We've all the right to continually redefine ourselves. People evolve. I've evolved.

Is there still a place for me where I call home? Whom everyone I know lives a life far different than mine? In a way, traveling in foreign lands makes me feel safe. Along with everyone else, I'm just a tourist making discoveries – not knowing what's behind each corner. A far better feeling than being a tourist in my own environment.

Ludicrous, belligerent, irresponsible... might still be accurate, but I won't hide behind it anymore.

Sincerely,
Kevin L.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Campaign Against Creepy Men: Take Back Our Streets


Having recently returned from several "third world" countries (and been to many others that are far less "affluent" than the United States), I was struck by how much more civility men publicly show women in other nations. I'd always figured there was a correlation between economic class and manners. I was wrong. It has much more to do with allowing and facilitating a culture that has accepted this kind of behavior as the "norm."

In many of the countries I've visited, I was astounded by the fact an attractive woman could walk down the street and NOT be ogled and "hollered" at. It stood out to me, because I'm so used to seeing attractive women in the U.S. get leered at to the point of disrespect and discomfort. It's become an epidemic, where a woman can't walk down the streets without hearing someone call out some sort of sexist comment, grab at them, or have a car honk to get their attention.

I think the people who do this are the most pathetic, lowest-class neanderthals you will ever meet.

The same type of people who take cheap shots at others at sporting events, get arrested for domestic violence, and would break the law if they knew they could get away with it. These people objectify others, lack respect, empathy and the courtesies that accompany these characteristics.

Recently I watched a hidden camera video where a woman walks the streets of New York City. While edited, not a moment goes by where she isn't catcalled by men, ogled, or harassed. As someone who has spent a lot of time helping guys figure out ways to approach and speak to women, this is most DEFINITELY not one of them. While I encourage guys to be confident and assertive, it should always be in a respectful manner where you get to know someone and then ask them out. It should be in an environment where both parties expect some sort of social interaction, not a verbally intimidating shout-out on the streets while someone's walking, as if yelling out to some zoo animal to get their attention.



Coming from a family with very strong female figures, this subject is actually very close to my heart. I remember when I was very young – maybe 8 or 9 – I was on the subway in NYC and I knew the leering eye of a stranger towards one of my family members was more than just a passing glare. He didn't take his eyes from her for a second until he noticed me staring daggers into him. Even then, I knew his intentions were outside of the norm. Once we were set to get off the subway, in the rush and crush of the crowd, he quickly molested my family member and disappeared amongst the faces. I was livid – heated that I couldn't do anything about it. And maybe the first time I realized the world wasn't innocent.

We don't have to accept this type of behavior. As men – as gentleman – we owe it to each other to still have respect for women, even when there are no women around. Being around a bunch of "bros" does not make it right to degrade, hoot and holler at women like uneducated idiots. Admittedly, I have been around guys when they act this way, and rather than saying, "have some respect. I'm not cool with that," I turned a deaf ear. I'm not proud of that.

Women, I've actually seen some of you respond kindly to this sort of approach. Don't encourage these going-nowhere-fast simpletons with responses. Demand to be treated like a person and not an object. There's a time and place for everything, but not as a woman is going about her day trying to get to a destination. Women should be able to walk the streets without someone trying to undress them with their eyes and assaulting their sense of freedom.

We can take back our streets by facilitating a culture that lets it be known we are disgusted with this kind of behavior and will not allow it to permeate any further. Rather than accepting this as the norm of mainstream American culture, we can start by shaming these neanderthals and continue by teaching our children the proper and respectful ways to interact with each other. Maybe this is overly ambitious, and a rather grand statement, but I believe we can change the tide of acceptable American societal norms.

Respect our women.

It starts with each one of us.

Sincerely,
Kevin L.
SVB

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Silicon Valley Bachelor Reality Show: Looking for Bachelors!


In college, my favorite friend was a socially awkward computer-geek. I stuck up for him. I was mean to girls who didn't like him. I forced him out to social settings. I loved that goofy bastard.

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the "little guy." 

Don't get me wrong, in no way was he some sort of charity case. And by no means calling him, and others like him, the "little guy" am I trying to demean, although I realize that's what I may inadvertently be doing. I genuinely enjoyed his friendship, his unique take, and the fact that he would want to be friends with ME – a cliched fratty college neanderthal. I desperately wanted him to enjoy aspects of life that he otherwise might've overlooked, or that might otherwise have overlooked him. 

Some people see this site as some sort of self-aggrandizing attempt of my dating exploits. It's never been about that. Sadly, this site and the stories represented, have actually dissuaded more girls to NOT date me. It's probably better, as I have more time to count down the days of my life. This site, and the whole idea of "the Silicon Valley Bachelor," has always been about offering guys (and girls) the knowledge to find and more effectively communicate with the opposite sex. It's about helping, empowering, and offering a positive message – using myself as an unintended cautionary tale. (Even my startup deals with "wingmanning" people!)

So when the casting director of a prominent reality production company asked me to help find guys/get the word out on a potential new show that helps Silicon Valley bachelors find true love – I chomped at the opportunity. First of all, it's been years since I actually served a purpose to anyone. Heck, people don't even ask me to watch their groceries when they accidentally leave their wallet in a porn-newspaper vending machine. Secondly, I love my Silicon Valley geeks. The best part is that Silicon Valley geeks and nerds are not afraid to call themselves that. It's getting dangerously close to meta territory.

Here is the description of the show:

Calling all eligible Silicon Valley Bachelors! 

A NYC- based television production company is looking for single, successful, Silicon Valley bachelors who are on a quest for love. Are you tired of the dating scene? Do you keep striking out with the ladies? Do you need one-on-one coaching from our experts? 

If you are between the ages of 25-40 and sincerely interested in finding “the One” please submit your name, contact info, picture, age and brief bio to siliconvalleyrealityshow@gmail.com

Or you can email me at SVBachelor@gmail.com. This production company is legit, but I'm not at liberty to say who. Any girl can tell you I am really good at online stalking and I did my due diligence. I don't even have cable and I've seen some of the shows they've produced.

Once upon a time, I was considered the best wingman this side of the Mississippi. But that was in another lifetime... It would give me great joy to find someone who's truly looking for love and help them find it, while also showing the world all the amazing characteristics of men who often-times get overlooked by society.

Like the great Jerry Maguire said, "help me, help you..."

Send your info in today!

Wishing you always the best in love,
Kevin L.
The SVB