Swipe right

From Tinder to the worst date ever to something that will make you feel bad for people (and grateful for your choices and maybe good fortune). Also: 7 other things worth a click.

My wife and I got together in 2012, which was just before Tinder became a thing.

That explains why I keep messing up a modern metaphor, since we just missed having to know if you “swipe right” or “swipe left” on apps to show that you find someone interesting or good or positive.

In case you also missed out on Tinder (not a bad thing), it’s “swipe right.” Just think of Mr. Right or Ms. Right.

Or else, think of the Massachusetts woman who “swiped right” on Christopher Castillo’s profile a few years ago.

Within hours, she found herself driving to pick him up at his parents' house in Rhode Island. It was probably a bad sign that he started drinking wine in the front seat.

Then, he asked her to stop outside a bank.

He went inside; minutes later he came out running, sweating, carrying a gun (not a typo, CARRYING A GUN!) and telling her to get moving fast!

"When she saw the blue lights of the police cruisers," a local newspaper reported, "she immediately pulled into the parking lot and got away from the car."

This week, a judge sentenced Castillo to three years in state prison for bank robbery, and two more for spitting at the police officers who arrested him.

Worst. Date. Ever.

But it's Valentine's Day today, and a good time to think about love.

Also, prison, as it happens. Because I was drawn to a story about Flikshop, which is an app that lets the loved ones of incarcerated people upload pictures from their phones, add a 300-character-max message, and turn it into a postcard, all for 99 cents.

The company's founder is an ex-convict named Marcus Bullock, who did eight years for an armed robbery he committed at age 15. He says letters from his mother, Sylvia Bullock, where what kept him connected to the outside world.

The company's busiest season, by far, is Valentine's Day. The messages a reporter got to see while writing this might give you pause:

  • “Hi daddy I miss you and love you lots!! Nana got me this coat I love it!! I put it on and wore it all day!! the other picture is when I got my ears pierced … I didn’t cry at all!! love you daddy”

  • “Hey mom! I love you so much and hope to see you soon.”

  • “I miss you and I’m sad. I’m still mad at you and I hate you . . . but I love you and days like this I know we both wish you were home so we could enjoy it and make memories.”

One postcard had just a two word message: “Hey Papa.”

“But the photo says plenty,” wrote Washington Post columnist Theresa Vargas. “It shows a tiny baby with a giant white bow.”

“I find myself praying over some of these,” said Sylvia Bullock, who works with her son on the business now.


I've gotten a lot of mileage over the years writing about the Harvard Grant Study, which recorded and studied the lives of more than 700 men (all Harvard alumni) from the 1930s to the present.

There's a short summary from the study's curator (in a TED talk):

"The clearest message that we get from this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period."

So that’s worth remembering—love and relationships—even if V-Day itself can be the worst.

I mean, there's probably a sweet spot for the first few years into a relationship where it's kind of nice.

But if you're alone, it's a reminder; if you're in a longer relationship it can kind of turn into an obligation.

If you’re a florist, it's probably good.

Anyway, let's give the day its due—even though I'll bet not a single reader here can actually tell me who St. Valentine was. If you're going to pick one thing to commemorate, it's hard to come down too hard on love.

And to my wife: Happy Valentine’s Day, babe. I love you!

(If we’d met up a year later, I’m sure I would have swiped right.)

7 other things worth a click

  1. Here’s a story by McClatchy on how the McClatchy chain of newspapers is filing for bankruptcy. As a colleague of mine noted, the McClatchy reporter working on this story knew for a while what was happening, but couldn’t tell any of his colleagues and had to write the whole thing dispassionately. (McClatchy)

  2. A judge ordered Microsoft to stop working temporarily on a government contract after Amazon sued. (CNBC)

  3. A study says people who quit Facebook report lower anxiety and more life satisfaction. (Boing Boing)

  4. Meanwhile, Facebook quietly released a “Pinterest clone.” (The Verge)

  5. President Trump is about to headline what might well be the most expensive single campaign fundraiser ever. Admission requires more than $580,000 in donations per couple. (Seattle Times)`

  6. Basketball shoe sales are way down. Athleisure sales are way up. (Axios)

  7. A pediatrician committed suicide, and police say the note he left behind leaves them wondering if he vaccinated the children who were his patients. (CNN)

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