dating data reporting

I’ve been working in the Data Reporting Office of the California Department of Education for about a year now. The logical and analytical left brain part of me enjoys the challenge of writing SQL statements (SQL is a database programming language) to extract the data needed for reports. The end result of my work is mostly reports filled with numbers. It actually sounds kind of boring when I describe it this way.

In general I like to do things that tell stories. I think that’s the creative right brain part of me. I like to take photographs and write on this blog, both of which are inherently methods of story telling. I think that’s why after a year in my job I’m still not bored– My work requires logic, but it also tells a story, albeit in a slightly different way. The numbers in the reports I generate tell the story about the successes and failures of education in California. For example, there’s a lot of interest in English learner students in California, and a data set I worked with recently seems to tell the story about how our state is failing to educate these kids– many of them never achieve English fluency.

On a completely unrelated note, it seems like there’s a lot of interest in my dating life (or actually the lack thereof). So I’ll try to tell the story of it. Unfortunately the usual modes of story telling don’t apply here. I don’t really have any interesting anecdotes to write about, and I don’t take pictures on dates (that would be awkward). But I’ve been on my fair share of first dates, so I suppose there’s enough data and numbers to tell some sort of story about my successes or failures. So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll try write down any statistics I could think of– hopefully at the very least it’s an interesting story.

Let’s start with some big picture numbers. I’ll start with cost, since that one’s easy. I am currently on 4 dating apps– Match, eHarmony, Coffee Meets Bagel, and okCupid. Coffee Meets Bagel has costed me the least amount of money, a grand total of ZERO dollars. okCupid is free too, but I spent $9.99 for one month of their premium service, mostly out of curiosity, which I’ll explain later on. For both Match and eHarmony I’ve spent about $240 each. Interestingly enough I started both of them about the same time and I initially bought a six month subscription with each of them for around $120. I forgot to cancel both of them, and now I am about a third of the way through my second six month subscription with both. The total cost for each has worked out to about $20 per month.

In terms of bang for the buck, Coffee Meets Bagel (I’ll call it CMB since I’m tired of typing it out) has been the best for me. (That’s kind of a misnomer– there’s not actually any banging going on, neither literally or metaphorically.) CMB costs the least amount of money yet it has gotten me the most connections. The way CMB works is that you are matched with one profile every day, which you can either like or pass. If your match likes you as well, you are connected and can communicate through their messaging system. On a typical month I seem to connect with two or three matches, though not all of them will lead to first dates.

Next in effectiveness for me has been eHarmony. Like with CMB there’s some sort of matching algorithm which selects profiles for you to see. It’s slightly less structured than CMB because instead of needing a mutual like to initiate communication, either side can start the conversation by sending questions. In eight months I’ve gone on three dates matched through eHarmony.

I’ve had little to no success with Match and okCupid, mostly because of apathy on my part. With Match and okCupid you browse profiles and send messages to the people you are interested in. I find that it doesn’t work well for me. It takes a lot of messages to get a response, and even when I do get a few messages going back and forth none have ended with a date. So lately I haven’t been using either of these apps much.

Actually, now that I think about it, there’s an additional matching “app,” though it’s not a website and doesn’t exist on a smartphone. It’s my family. In terms of dates per dollar it’s actually the most effective, being the only one that’s actually been a financial gain. (My aunt in Korea actually gave me money to go on a blind date.) In terms of number of first dates it ranks pretty highly too, about on par with eHarmony.

I’m not sure if my results are typical. I have friends who have had success with both Match and okCupid, so my results there are probably not typical. But I’ve heard from several friends that CMB seems to work well for them, and I know of several married couples who have met on eHarmony, so in general it seems like within my circle of friends I’m fairly in typical in leaning towards CMB and eHarmony. In terms of match rate or number of first dates I have no idea if my results are typical, though if I had to guess I’d say they’re probably lower than average. All of the dating apps have a way of selecting preferences for matches, and in these preferences I am very selective which most likely severely lowers the number of potential first dates.

The reports I generate at work are typically aggregated or filtered based on several demographics– typically gender, race, age (or more likely grade), location (typically county or school district) and subgroup (typically these include demographic information like if a student is homeless or a foster child.) Similarly with these dating apps I filter my matches based on gender (females only please), race (Asian or Pacific Islander), age (25-35), location (typically just far enough to include the Bay Area) and subgroup (typically it’s Christian, never married, no kids currently, non smoker).

I don’t have any hard data on this, but I’m fairly certain my stringent preferences shrink the potential number of first dates significantly. The only thing I have resembling a statistic comes from okCupid. I briefly mentioned earlier that I paid $10 for a month of premium on okCupid, which they call A-List. okCupid lets you ‘like’ a profile. You can see a list at any time of the profiles you’ve liked, every single one of them fit the demographics I mentioned earlier, i.e. Asian girl between the ages of 25-35. It also shows you mutual likes for free. At the time (this was several months ago) I had liked a few dozen profiles but had only a single mutual like. I had twenty people who had liked my profile. If you pay for A-list you can see who likes you, so out of curiosity I paid for one month. Something like 95% of the people who had liked me were either white, black or Latino, the one mutual like was the only Asian who had liked me. I guess that’s the (dating) story of my life. The girls I like are not interested in me, and the girls that like me are the ones I’m not interested in…

Anyways, now we get to the heart of the report, the numbers. The numbers will basically be about whatever I feel like. Like my work reports the numbers will be broken down by demographics. We’ll ignore gender since they’re all female, race will mostly be either Korean or Chinese. I won’t report on age or subgroup (or like we say at work, that data is redacted). Location will basically be Sacramento or other. The numbers are mostly from memory so they may be off by one or two, and if you try to sum up the numbers you won’t get any meaningful result due to missing data (this often happens with work reports too), but hopefully the numbers tell an interesting story.

Here we go.

Out of 3 Korean girls that I met for first dates in the greater Sacramento area, 100% were through CMB. 100% were at purveyors of caffeine. Out of those, 2 were at Starbucks, 1 was at a boba place. Only 1 of those went beyond a first date, the 1 that was NOT Starbucks. Clearly Coffee Meets Bagel should not be taken literally…

Out of 4 Korean girls that I met for first dates outside of the greater Sacramento area but within the US, 25% were from CMB, 25% were from eHarmony and 50% were from family. One date was at a purveyor of caffeine (Starbucks). Out of the original 4 a total of 50% forgot to bring their wallet. Out of those that forgot to bring their wallet I thought 100% of them were really cute. Sadly out of those cute forgetful girls 0% went past a first date.

Out of 4 Chinese girls that I met for first dates outside of the greater Sacramento area 50% were from eHarmony and 50% from CMB. 0% forgot to bring their wallet. Out of the original 4 a total of 50% were grad students at UC Berkeley. Out of the original 4 a total of 50% of the time I went on the first date with a bicycle on my car. Out of those I actually only rode my bicycle on the date 50% of the time. Out of the original 4 only 1 was at a purveyor of caffeine (Philz!)

Out of 2 Chinese girls and 1 Japanese girl I met in the greater Sacramento area 100% were through CMB. 100% were in the medical field yet 0% were doctors. Two were at purveyors of caffeine and one was at a purveyor of beer (is there anything to do in Sac for a first date besides coffee or beer?) 0% forgot to bring their wallet.

Out of 7 blind dates that my family has tried to set me up on, 100% have been Korean. Three of them were located in Korea, two were in California, one in New York, and one in Seattle. I have gone on 100% of the ones in California, 33% of the ones in Korea, and 0% of the ones in Seattle and New York.

The farthest date from home was the one in Korea, over 5,000 miles away, which was organized by family. The farthest that was not organized by family was nearly 2,400 miles away in Washington DC, initially met through eHarmony.

The most expensive date I can remember was nearly $200, though that wasn’t a first date. It consisted of dinner and musical tickets. The most expensive first date I can remember was around $20, which was two cheap entrees at a Chinese restaurant. The cheapest first date was closer to $2, one small coffee at Starbucks for myself (she paid for her own, obviously she didn’t forget her wallet). Maybe I shouldn’t cheap out so much on first dates…

If I tried harder I could probably come up with more statistics, but I’ll stop here. In hindsight my dating life isn’t all that interesting, maybe someday I’ll have an interesting anecdote to share instead of these boring numbers.

the POST finale

Today was my last day with the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST as it’s known internally. On Monday I’ll be starting a new job at the California Department of Education.

My final day at POST was like most endings in my life so far– anticlimactic. I spent the early part of the day filling out my exit paperwork, then I spent a few hours wandering around shaking hands and saying goodbye to the people I’ve worked with. That’s probably what I’ll miss most about this job, the people. Because it’s such a small organization it’s almost like an extended family.

The work itself I won’t miss too much– Initially I really enjoyed it, and it was something that I wanted to try my hand at. I was hired on as a web developer, and because the agency is pretty small I was able to do a variety of things as a web developer, from graphics design to database administration to programming and even some photography. At least that’s how it was initially. But towards the end of my time there I was almost a pure programmer/developer, which I found I didn’t enjoy as much. I found that I enjoyed working with databases, and so I’m fortunate that I was able to find a job that works with data more. Starting on Monday I’ll be working in the data reporting office of the CA Department of Education.

I’m fortunate that I found a new boss that was willing to take a chance on hiring me as a database/report developer, even though I don’t have a whole lot of experience with databases or data reporting. And I’m fortunate that four years ago I found a boss that was willing to take a chance on hiring me even though I didn’t have a whole lot of experience in web development. Looking back I realize that I’ve been blessed in my career– I’ve always been blessed with great managers, and I’ve always been blessed in being able to find a job in something that interests me, even though I might not have all the qualifications on paper. I’ve found that what I like most is learning, and I’m lucky that every job I’ve had has been a great learning experience, even though sometimes I learn what I don’t like doing.

kid’s day

Today my work had it’s annual kid’s day. This was my first time seeing it, since I was out on vacation last year. I was expecting it to be super boring, just a bunch of bored kids sitting in their parent’s cubicle. Instead I found that my work has just about the most awesome kid’s day imaginable. My work deals with a lot of law enforcement agencies, so they were able to bring in some local agencies to do demonstrations for the kids.

Folsom PD brought in their mounted horse unit. One thing I learned. Don’t stand behind a horse. It smells back there…

The Sheriff’s department brought in their bomb robot.

The SWAT team even brought in their armored truck.

The K9 unit brought in two of their dogs, a German shepherd and a Dutch shepherd. I’ve always been scared to get near a K9 police unit, but found that the dogs were super friendly. They couldn’t do any of the normal tricks, like shake hands or roll over, but that’s totally fine because they can do awesome tricks like take down suspects and sniff out drugs.

I was by far the biggest kid there, but I still had a ton of fun.

Things I’m thankful for:

  • Law Enforcement Officers– The men and women who put their lives at stake for public safety.
  • My job. Sometimes I think it’s really boring (well actually it is, because I’m just a computer geek)– but at least the agency I work with does some cool and useful stuff.

eight times five

For about a year and a half I have been working a four-ten schedule, meaning I work four days a week, ten hours a day, and get an extra day off. Up until now that day off has been Friday, but I decided to switch it to Monday.

There’s a couple of reasons why I figured Mondays off are better. First, there’s the advantage of never having to wake up early on a Monday. It provides one extra day to recover from the weekend. Second, any Monday holidays get banked as floating holidays, which I can basically use as an extra vacation day. This is the main reason why I’m switching to Monday– I used up a good chunk of my vacation days last year, and I want to save up as many as I can to try and travel internationally sometime this year. And third, Monday seems like a better day to run errands. On a lot of the Fridays I had off, I’d run errands like going to the car dealer for scheduled maintenance. Apparently Friday was their busiest day. I’m hoping Mondays will be less crowded.

Anyways, because the Monday and Friday fell within different months this week, I had to work all five days this week. But on the plus side that meant getting out while the sun was still pretty high in the sky. I ended up taking advantage of it by biking into work on Tuesday. I had actually had my bike ready and my panniers packed, ready to go for a ride to work since the beginning of the year. I had been planning to bike in at least once a week, but I’ve been lazy. But with gas over $4 a gallon, it starts making more sense to ride in. I just need to find a way to haul my butt out of bed…

Today I went for a short jog at McKinley park after work. I don’t especially like running, I mostly run when I’ve eaten too much during the day. Today I felt obligated to run because I had buffet with coworkers at Mizu. It’s actually quite nice running at McKinley park. I might do it more, even without eating buffet. I guess part of the reason why I don’t like running is because I run towards the end of the day, under cover of darkness. It’s actually not so bad when you’re running during the day through cherry blossoms and sleepy ducks and swans.

On a completely random, unrelated note… I saw the Google self driving car this week. On Wednesdays I’ve been going to a bible study in Sac, this week we met at Happy Corner, which is right next to Akebono. The driver of the car came out when he saw us standing around the car taking pictures (with our Google Android phones). He was pretty cool, he talked to us about the technology behind the car and random stuff, even though we probably interrupted his meal.

So anyways, this week was a nice change. Getting off early was nice. But I’m looking forward to going back to four-tens and having Mondays off.

Things I am thankful for:

  • flexible employment
  • Vibram five finger running shoes
  • bike lanes
  • Google super engineers
  • bible study buddies

twelve pounds

My work has a holiday tradition called the twelve pounds of Christmas. For twelve days there’s a potluck every work day leading up to Christmas, except for one day off for the annual holiday party (which is a buffet.)

My work is organized into different bureaus, and each day a bureau brings in food for the entire office. So basically you bring food in one day and chow down for the rest of the days. For some reason this year it seems almost like a competition, with each bureau trying to outdo each other.

The potlucks used to be held in the upstairs meeting room, but for some reason this year they moved them to the downstairs meeting room, which is at most ten feet from my cubicle. Willpower comes a lot easier when you have to climb a flight of stairs to see the food. This year the food is basically in front of my face, and I can constantly smell it, so willpower is in short supply.

Yet somehow, up until this week I was able to stay away, just nibbling here and there. But on Monday things changed when the potluck got cranked up another notch. Somebody started cooking bacon in the meeting room. The smell and sound of sizzling bacon was intoxicating. They should have laws against cooking bacon in the office because I’m pretty sure productivity drops to zero when the aroma of cooked bacon wafts through the office.

Today things got even crazier. Somebody brought a chocolate fountain in. Best invention ever. I started off slowly, eating a few pieces of fruit dipped in chocolate. But later somebody brought in doughnuts, marshmallows and rice krispy squares. “I’m already in this, might as well go big…” I thought, as I drenched a doughnut in chocolatey goodness.

I guess by go big, I meant stomach go big.