A Postcard from Taiwan


“I’m from an island, Taiwan. 200 years ago, lots of Chinese moved to Taiwan. So our wedding custom is the same as China. Ancient females can’t choose their husband by themselves. And one path to decide their husband is ‘throw an embroidered ball.’ A rich man lets his daughter throw the ball from a tower. Then no matter who (man) catches it can marry with the lady. In the story the ball is always caught by the destiny man (who is poor, but he’ll become a great man). Then they will have a happy ending. Today, trusting ourselves is better than a ball absolutely. But I still think that is so romantic. =P”

Distance traveled: 6,435 miles

Data, Actually

I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes. 

Christmas is in the air and someone, somewhere is watching Love, Actually. Last year, David Robinson at Variance Explained took the entire script and analyzed the social networks within the film. 

With his interactive shiny app you can select a scene and see which characters have interacted with each other up to that point in the movie.

Early on, you see multiple distinct story lines developing.

Scene 7

Scene 7 - Love Actually

As the movie goes on, more and more characters interact.

Scene 38

Scene 38 - Love Actually

By the end of the movie, the social network has become completely entangled, when most of the characters come together at the school Christmas concert.

Scene 57 

Scene 57

Robinson shares his analysis along with all of his R code and even wraps it all up with a nice message. Find it here.

Dater’s Index

Emily McDowell at mcsweenys.net chronicled her experience with online dating with her Dater’s Index. Here’s a selection:

  • Number of first dates I went on from the Internet between January 2009 and November 2010: 40
  • Percentage change over the previous decade: +3,900
  • Estimated percentage of profiles containing the description “fun-loving”: 80
  • Estimated percentage of people who do not actually love fun: 0
  • Estimated percentage of single people in Los Angeles who both work and play hard: 85
  • Number of first dates resulting in trips to the E.R.: 1
  • Estimated number of times I swore off online dating: 5
  • Number of first dates it took before meeting the right one: 39
  • Number of times we flaked out on each other before we actually met: 3
  • Time, in months, that we have now been happily living together: 9
  • Likelihood, in percent, that I will tell you online dating is the best thing ever: 100

Find the full version here.

2 Postcards from Australia

Today I’ll share, not one, but two postcards from Australia that arrived on the same day.

koala postcard

First, Kay from Sydney writes:

Hullo Sandra,

I take it you are a young girl with ideals of romance, dating etc.  I remember those teenage days! I was so absorbed with my career and did not marry until 25 years of age, but chose the wrong one!! After my divorce and again more of a career person, waited another 10 years before I decided to go to Australia to work and guess what fell in love with a fellow passenger on board ship and I wasn’t expecting to remarry again. Life is very strange. The love bug bites at an time in your life!

All good wishes.


And second, some wise words from Kim, somewhere in New South Wales:

married rings postcard

Hi Sandra.

I have been married for 21 years. If I could give any advice it would be to let young people know that relationships have highs + lows. That is perfectly normal. Don’t give up when things seem tough. Also don’t assume your partner knows what you’re thinking. Speak up, talk things through.

All the best.


Total distance traveled: 7,512 + 7,415 = 14,927 miles

Love Hurts – A Series from Strangers

In this series, Strangers host Lea Thau takes a look at her own life and why she’s struggling to find a partner, including interviewing men she’s dated in the past.

If you’ve ever asked yourself “What’s wrong with me?” after a breakup or a long stretch without a date, these episodes are for you.

Love Hurts 2
Love Hurts 3
Love Hurts 4
Love Hurts – The Follow Up
Love Hurts – One Year Later