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Love On Line: Cupid on the Internet
This article was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on February 10, 1999. All rights reserved.
Just because you are computer professional doesn’t mean
you know how to use the Internet to enhance your personal life. Nancy
Blachman is an IT trainer and author who can help.
She and David DesJardins met online in 1997 and were just on
New Year’s Day. Based on her experience (and using the pen name Nancy
Capulet), she wrote a guide to love in cyberspace, "Putting Your
Heart Online" (Variable Symbols Inc., $18.95). Now she has been
making the rounds of the bookstores to talk about it (U.S. 1, September
Her next talk is to computer engineers at the Sarnoff Center, just
in time for those with the post-Valentine’s Day blues. She speaks
on "New Online Social Dating Trends" for the Princeton ACM/IEEE
Computer Society on Thursday, February 18, at 8 p.m. in the Sarnoff
auditorium. The meeting is free, and refreshments will be served.
Call 609-924-8704 for inforamtion.
Blachman runs her own consulting and training business in mathematical
software, Variable Symbols Inc., at 375 Nassau Street in Princeton
(609-688-9666). A native of Palo Alto, she has bachelor’s and master’s
degrees in mathematics, operations research, and industrial engineering
from University of California at Berkeley, and she worked for Bell
Labs in Holmdel from 1979 to 1984. Then she earned a master’s degree
in computer science from Stanford. She is the author of six technical
books, including the tutorial for the software program, "Mathmatica,"
owned by Wolfram Research.
"I see this as a new, great way to meet people that I think is
going to explode," says Blachman. She met her future husband on http://www.match.com
when he was studying in California; he works for the Institute for
Defense Analyses on Thanet Circle.
With time at a premium, the Web allows singles to write from the comfort
of home, any time of the day or night, and to end unwanted advances
with a quick E-mail. Her book covers everything from how a novice
can get online, to how to dodge "cyberheads, Web weenies, and
online liars." Also how to safely exchange information, terminate
an online connection that isn’t working out, and how to move the online
connection into real life.
Blachman’s web site (http://www.heartsonline.com) offers
these questions to consider when you select a site:
my own interests are and how I like to present myself?
for example, 35 to 45 years old, live within 10 miles, and are interested
in having children?
I end up contacting people who are no longer using the service?
have to reveal my identity? (If not, setting up a free E-mail account
for that purpose can protect your privacy. But if users expect you
to identify yourself in your E-mail, they may respond less favorably
to anonymous E-mail.)
prefer to have E-mail forwarded to their E-mail account rather than
picking it up at a Web page.
whether the service suits my needs before I sign up?
commentaries on 11 online matchmaking services, everything from http://www.singlejew.com
http://www.sports.friendfinder.com. On the latter you
can search by sport and location to find, for instance, a 17-year-old
man who plays billiards in Lithuania and a 39-year-old Asian Indian
from East Brunswick who likes to go camping and ballroom dancing.
"`Putting Your Heart Online’ is the book I wish I could have read
before I posted my first online ad," says Blachman.
If you’ve ever wanted to take some friends along on
the road to Marrakesh, then Helge Leeuwenburgh‘s course on how
to lead a tour group is for you. The travel bug, he says, is a consuming
addiction: "It’s like dope, once you’re on it you know you’ll
never stop." Yet despite years of experience shepherding tourists,
he remains an idealist. A tour leader must be, he says, "truly
dedicated to the well being of the group."
Course content will include pointers on both how to organize tours
and how to escort them. Entitled "Professional Tour Planning and
Escorting," the course is offered at Mercer County College on
either Thursday evenings or Saturday mornings in four or five sessions.
The Thursday course begins on February 18; the Saturday course on
February 20. The cost for either session is $96. To register call
Leeuwenburgh cautions more democratically inclined tour leaders: "One
of the things you must never do is to take a vote. It sounds democratic
but what you aredoing, in essence, is splitting the group." The
result is a great divide — losers, winners and, over to the side,
a tour guide who has given up his authority. A benign dictatorship,
where the tour leader uses a silken glove rather than an iron fist,
Dispensing tips, he counsels tour guides to treat people impartially
and not to play favorites. Yet for the disgruntled or hard to please,
he advises an extra dose of attention from the tour leader. Leeuwenburgh
also plans to discuss logistics problems including dealing with missing
luggage, lost tickets, and flight cancellations.
Group psychology is another topic. "I think every group very clearly
has a personality. It’s up to the tour manager to balance it," says
Leeuwenburgh, "not to let frustrations or things get out of hand."
He stresses empathy with those being led. "The traveler gives
up a lot of his independence if he joins a group tour, and there is
a lot of goodwill. You have to make sure that you keep the goodwill."
Group tours should offer the camaraderie of shared experiences. "The
people who join a tour are basically full of expectation, hope, and
positive feelings. It’s very important to maintain this feeling of
Leeuwenburgh anticipates his course will appeal to time-laden retirees
hoping to lead a gaggle of friends abroad, travel agents seeking to
add to their store of knowledge and also, "people who are curious
because they are travelers and they would like to know ‘could I do
something like this myself?’"
The Internet has taken some of the mystery out of tour organizing
says Leeuwenburgh. Information that was previously difficult to gather
or available only to travel agents is now easily accessible. He sees
his course as in keeping with the prevailing trend to do-it-yourself.
"People are no longer so in awe of the expert." But he warns
that organizing your own tours is very time consuming.
Leeuwenburgh, a native of the Netherlands, has spent the past 40 years
in the travel business. He has witnessed first hand the evolution
of American travel to Europe. "It used to be that people took
the grand European tour, which was three weeks or more, and at that
time they didn’t really think they would go again." Now many travelers
take several shorter trips in a lifetime — each focussing on a
different region or interest such as 10 days in Scandinavia or a five-day
trip to London museums.
Leeuwenburgh worked with Freddie Laker, a pioneer of discount flights,
during the mid 1970s. "He changed the entire perception of transatlantic
travel," says Leeuwenburgh.
In addition to holding a New York City guide’s license, Leeuwenburgh
has worked as a tour leader for Maupintour since 1983. His area of
concentration is Europe and he speaks Danish, Dutch and German. This
past September he led a group of 20 through Russia and the Baltic
He also does freelance work including leading an annual theater tour
of London in January for the department of Fine Arts at Rider College.
And, in a bit of geographical role reversal, he sometimes guides groups
of German tourists through the United States.
— Caroline Calogero
Small business owners and managers will get a chance
to learn how to move away from paper-based methods of operation and
into the electronic age at business opportunity seminars in Edison
on Tuesday, February 23, at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
The free three-hour seminars, Business Opportunities with the Department
of Defense using E-Commerce or Electronic Commerce, will also focus
on set-aside contracts and will be held at the PSE&G Training Center
in Edison. Business on the Internet will be the focus of the second
seminar at 1 p.m. Call 800-575-3272 for registration. See page 52
for other E-commerce developments in the Princeton area.
Elizabeth Zygmont, outreach specialist for the Scranton Electronic
Commerce Resource Center says that "there will be a general overview
of how the federal government is using electronic commerce to post
competitive solicitations that businesses can bid on and how businesses
can access programs such as the Internet and electronic bulletin boards
and other electronic means to bid upon and hopefully win some of the
Explaining the set-aside seminar, Zygmont says that, "although
there are no set-asides for women-owned businesses, there is a program
called Small Disadvantaged Businesses."
"We recommend for businesses to find out if they qualify for that
category and to call the Small Business Administration," she says.
"What is interesting is that at each base or activity, there are
goals and not set-aside contracts. They are not requirements but goals
that each buying activity is urged to try to meet, and there are goals
for women-owned businesses but not set-asides, per se. There is also
a set-aside for small business in general and we urge businesses to
contact the Small Business Administration at 973-645-3683. However,
we will discuss how businesses can take advantage of some of the programs
and how they can find additional information online but the first
line of information is the SBA," she says.
"Our expertise is in the technical areas and how to use the technology
to find the opportunities," notes Zygmont, as she explains the
real purpose of the seminar.
In explaining how businesses should become computer literate, Zygmont
says, "the government is moving away from paper based methods
to more open electronic methods, which is the purpose of the afternoon
The seminars are aimed at small businesses and according to Zygmont,
they are offered free, "because our funding comes from the Department
of Defense and our purpose is to reach small businesses and to teach
them about electronic commerce."
Businesses do not have to be on the Internet in order to attend the
"This seminar is a good way to show businesses why they need to
become Internet savvy but by no means do they have to become Internet
savvy. If they go to the seminar and they think it’s something their
business should get into, we have hands-on training that we can offer
as well as technical support to implement the technologies that they
learn about in our seminars," says Zygmont.
Zygmont says that attendees will be urged to action through the Small
Business 7 Point EC (Electronic Commerce) Strategy Review. Those points
are: register as a contractor, have Internet access and e-mail, consider
an Internet presence, consider an electronic catalog, become EDI (Electronic
Data Interchange) capable, have EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) capability,
and accept government purchase cards which could be Visa, AmEx, or
— Ernie Johnston
Green Thumb, a national nonprofit training and employment
organization that helps disadvantaged and older adults find jobs,
offers an information technology training program, beginning early
in March, to train mature workers for jobs as a PC technician, desktop
support specialist, computer training technical assistant, or computer
application position. The total cost of the program is $3,675. Full
tuition scholarships are available, says Sydelle Norris, the
state director, as are self-pay options (including credit cards) but
keyboard skills are a prerequisite.
Productivity Point International will conduct the daily four-hour
classes in New Brunswick and Iselin.
Green Thumb is located at 2139 Route 33, Lexington Square Commons,
Box 8303, Trenton 08560, 609-689-0298. Its employment agency division,
entitled Experience Works! has expanded to open a second office next door at 2137 Route 33.
For more information about the information technology training program
call Mike Toht at Green Thumb, 609-890-2121.
The New Jersey Bankers Association will study how to
market electronic banking services to the over 50-crowd at a training
seminar on Wednesday, February 17, at 9 a.m. at the Summit Bank Training
Center in Jamesburg. "Electronic Banking Marketing to Senior Citizens"
will be led by Anthony Scanella, Kate Spears, Robert Jaworski,
Sheila Kremer, Ruth Reader, William Waits, Rose Sigler, and Paul
O’Keeffe. Among the topics will be the senior fraud act and reverse
mortgages. Cost: $150. Call 609-924-5550.
New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is extending
to all alumni free and lifetime use of the university’s computer network
and E-mail server, a service previously available only to students,
faculty, and staff. This will allow NJIT’s 35,000 graduates to stay
up to date on campus events, access the university’s extensive library
and research database, participate in the university’s on-line campus
forum, and keep in touch with their former classmates all over the
world with the use of a password.
The service demonstrates that being a member of the NJIT family does
not end at graduation, says NJIT president Saul K. Fenster.
"By extending this free service, we can further erode the traditional
divisions between current and graduated students — thereby fostering
contacts among faculty, students, and graduates that could increase
collaboration with industry."
The university recently acquired a powerful new mail server as part
of its five-year plan for computing. NJIT, currently ranked the nation’s
second "most wired" campus by Yahoo! Internet Life Magazine,
is implementing a $50 million plan to keep the university ahead of
the curve in information technologies.
NJIT is a public research university enrolling nearly 8,200 bachelor’s,
master’s, and doctoral students in 76 degree programs through its
five colleges. Research initiatives include manufacturing, microelectronics,
multimedia, transportation, computer science, solar astrophysics,
environmental engineering and science, and architecture and building
Nearly one-half of New Jersey’s adults function at the
lowest level of literacy, as defined by the National Adult Literacy
Survey. State and national data show that 50 to 80 percent of adult
illiterates have learning disabilities. These adults have been through
school where learning disabilities have prevented them from learning
to read. The 1994 survey indicated that three-quarters of adults who
are poor or near-poor perform at the lowest level of literacy.
Newgrange (an independent, not-for-profit organization providing specialized
educational programs for people with learning disabilities) and the
Princeton Area Community Foundation are organizing a two-part adult
literacy series on Thursday, February 11, at the Sarnoff Center, and
on Thursday, March 11 at Mercer County Community College, both at
12:30 p.m. The programs — oriented towards literacy providers
and tutors, supervisors and employers, policy makers, and funders
— are free and open to the public. Call 609-924-6204 for more
"Teaching Adults with Learning Disabilities" on February 11
will focus on how to recognize learning disabilities and adapt the
appropriate teaching strategies. An undiagnosed learning disability
can make learning to read and write difficult, if not impossible,
for adult literacy students. Learning objectives of the first session:
characteristics of learning disabilities.
three common learning disabilities.
techniques in a lesson plan.
for adult students with learning disabilities.
agencies and create an inventory for later reference.
do not screen for people with learning disabilities, or else they
fail to make accommodations. The March 11 session "Assessing and
Accommodating Adults with Learning Disabilities" will focus on
how to choose the right accommodations in different situations: How
to suggest appropriate workplace accommodations will be among the
Each session opens with a forum, followed by a two-hour training program,
live via satellite, produced by PBS Adult Services and the University
Pay to Play
Your company can get front row seats or front row signage
at the Mercer County Arena scheduled to open in next fall. The 10,000-seat,
state of the art facility will be home to 35 regular season Trenton
Titan East Coast Hockey League (E.C.H.L.) games and 30 Trenton Shooting
Stars Continental Basketball Association (CBA) basketball contests.
Advertising and sponsorship opportunities include:
on hanging center-court, center-ice state of the art video scoreboard,
$35,000 each, two for $65,000, or four for $120,000 (yearly per side).
Main scoreboard video, 30 seconds each, $250 per spot, multiple commercial
14 theater-style seats). The decor of each "box" includes
counter stools, cabinetry, optional wet bar, upscale wall coverings,
and plush wall to wall carpeting. Prices for the 32 suites range from
$40,000 to $60,000 per year depending on location and level of furnishings.
Furniture packages will be presented at an additional charge. Suite
pricing includes 14 tickets to all team sport events. Other events
require separate additional purchasing of tickets. Each suite is leased
for a five-year term. Lease sharing options are available.
For more information, contact Tom Ryba, manager, advertising
sponsorships, at 609-278-2760 or 619-277-8181.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Tax-Aide
Program offers free tax assistance to low and moderate income taxpayers
in Mercer County through April 15. The Tax-Aide program is in its
31st year of operation.
"Our locations are staffed by people who have been thoroughly
trained to complete the basic tax forms and answer tax questions,"
says Alex Banks, district coordinator, Princeton area. Special
emphasis is given to tax provisions such as pensions, social security,
IRA distributions, credit for the elderly and disabled, earned income
credit, child credit, and education credit. The taxpayer should bring
a copy of last year’s tax return, booklet with forms received from
the IRS, and all pertinent information for the 1998 tax year.
AARP tax sites include the Plainsboro Public Library, where help is
offered on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the History Room. Call
609-275-2897 for details. For more information about other sites,
dates, and times, call 609-655-4358.
The Mercer Dental Society is offering a month-long "Smiles
Are Always in Fashion" program to custom-fit school children with
free mouth guards and protect them from serious sports injuries. Nearly
50 participating members have volunteered to provide free mouth guards
to children from grades 1 through 12 as part of the National Children’s
Dental Health Month campaign of the American Dental Association.
"Mouth guards work," says Mark McDonough, coordinator
of the program. "Mouth guards prevent nearly 200,000 oral injuries
every year in the United States." The mouths of children are particularly
vulnerable, says David Young, president of the Mercer Society.
"The normal preventive cost of custom-made mouth guards is nothing
compared to the cost of treating a child after injuries have occurred."
Football presents fewer problems because players wear mouth guards.
Most traumatic injuries occur in sports where mouth protection is
not mandatory, such as basketball, soccer, hockey, volleyball, and
skateboarding. Most common injuries are chipped, loosened, or lost
teeth, and other injuries to the lips, cheeks, and tongue.
To arrange appointments with participating dentists, parents can call
the Mercer Dental Society at 609-844-0575.
The Sharing Network and Saturn automobile dealerships
in New Jersey sponsor a Valentine’s Day Organ Donor Drive on Saturday,
February 14, for National Donor Day. Stephen Franzman of Princeton,
a heart transplant recipient, will distribute organ donation materials
and discuss his personal experiences at Saturn in North Brunswick.
The Saturn dealership at Livingstone will display the New Jersey Donor
Family Quilt, a tribute to New Jersey donors, created by their families.
The Coalition on Donation has teamed with Saturn Corporation and its
United Auto Workers Partnership Initiative, America’s Blood Centers,
the Red Cross, Minority Organ and Tissue Transplant Education Program,
National Marrow Donor Program, Transplant Recipients International
Organization, Health and Human Services, and the National Kidney Foundation
to sponsor the second annual national donation drive of its kind.
The Sharing Network is a non-profit, federally certified and state
approved procurement organization responsible for recovering organs
and tissue for New Jersey residents in need of transplants. For more
information, or to obtain a donor card, or join the New Jersey Organ
and Tissue Donor Registry, call the Sharing Network at 800-SHARE-NJ
or visit the website at http://www.sharenj.org.
New Jersey Civil Action is organizing a free forum entitled
"Know Your Rights! Sexual Harassment in the Workplace" on
Wednesday, February 24, at 7 p.m. at the North Brunswick Public Library.
Attorneys, mental health professionals, and labor leaders will inform
women about sexual harassment and provide information about federal
and state laws protecting women from discrimination at work.
"Sexual harassment is not just upsetting — it is against the
law," says Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of New
Jersey Citizen Action. The project is aimed at heightening women’s
awareness as to not only what constituents sexual harassment, but
also what a woman can do to protect herself against such inappropriate
and illegal behavior, says Michele Querques, from the law firm
Giordano, Halleran, and Ciesla PC, a participant at the forum.
Citizen Action’s Sexual Harassment Project also offers a toll free
hotline — 877-666-6625 — that provides information and counseling
in a supportive and confidential manner.
Corrections or additions?
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