Check out our bi-weekly Net perspective. Our goal is to make these columns useful for our readers whether they be novice or pro, while still offering a fun to read column. Feel free to let us know what Internet resources you find useful in your personal, educational, or business life - it might just end up in one of our columns!
My twenty-three year old son recently stopped by for dinner and promptly stated that "Valentine's Day stinks". I laughed and asked why. "Because it's another stupid greeting card holiday invented by some capitalist". His friend concurred and noted that it was only a holiday if you had someone to love. I laughed. I inquired about my son's sense of angst and realized he was stumped as to what to send his girlfriend who was away at college; his friend was just plain lonely. As my partner and I are known to do we suggested doing some Internet surfing to find some solutions for their problems (at least their gift giving problems).
Our first suggestion was purely a guess: www.valentine.com. We figured some enterprising person (our son would call him a capitalist) had a site with this address. We were right. And what a site for anyone looking for a greeting card! Their Valentine Card Shop will set you up with the genuine Greeting Cards or Romantic Letters with your personal message delivered via the U.S. mail. If you're having trouble finding the perfect card to express your feelings this site provides a card wizard to match your situation with the intensity level you feel. A specially selected Valentine card will appear on your screen. You can add your message, address the card and place your order which will be sent via US Mail. For an extra fee you can guarantee delivery by Valentine's Day.
Speaking of cards, let's not forget Hallmark (www.hallmark.com). After all, there are many men who think that Valentine's Day is nothing more than a "Hallmark Holiday". Check out the romantic suggestions at this site and sign up for Hallmark's Reminder Service which will ensure you never forget another important date.
To calm the suspicions of our son, we pointed him to a Valentine's Day History page (www.zia.com/holidays/valentine/history/). According to this site the origins of Valentine's Day derived from the ancient Roman feast of Lupercalis (February 15). The holiday gradually became associated with the feast day (February 14) of two Roman martyrs, both named St. Valentine, who lived in the 3rd century. So much for it being a "romantic" Hallmark Holiday.
In any event, we hope our son gets SOMETHING for his girlfriend. Flowers are always a nice touch. Try www.ftd.com for roses, cards and anything Valentines from that golden courier. Of course, chocolates are cool unless you're loved one is allergic or on a diet. If they aren't, you're in luck. There are many firms on the 'net selling chocolate. One is Godiva Chocolatiers (www.godiva.com) Browse through their on-line store and order from their Valentine's Day Collection or Godiva all-occasion classics or entertaining gifts.
And when only a love letter will do, you can find ten simple but elegant love letters which you can use "as is" or modify to suit your individual needs at The Love Letter Gallery (www.electpress.com/loveandromance/). These letters were written by Poet Ara John Movsesian who is considered by some to be a modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac. Some of the letters of love and romance can be found in his book entitled "Pearls of Love: How to Write Love Letters & Love Poems" published by the Electric Press.
For those looking for less literary Valentine's Day gift ideas we suggest kate.gulf.net. Here you will find many things romantic and love-related. You can learn how to write a love letter (www.sugarplums.com/ezine/loveletters.html), view the Roget's Thesaurus entry for "love" (www.cs.umd.edu/services/roget/), or take a look at the frequently asked questions of the popular Internet newsgroup alt.romance (www.dina.kvl.dk/~fischer/alt.romance/faq.html). And don't forget to take Redbook's Valentine's Day Poll (homearts.com/rb/life/17vdpof1.htm).
Looking for a different romantic touch this year? Take a look at 1001 Ways to be Romantic® (www.godek.com/1001.html). This on-line version of Gregory Godek's popular book represents approximately one-fourth of the complete book - which of course you can order on-line. A sample suggestion: "Be prepared for shopping! Know all of your partner's sizes! You should be able to buy any item of clothing for him or her, and have it fit 80% of the time." Especially when you don't want to order flowers or chocolates on-line!
If you're having a problem with your current love, the Internet offers many with a solution to your problem. Maybe you want to "Ask Dr. Tracy" (www.loveadvice.com)? Dr. Tracy Cabot, offers a searchable encyclopedia of advice on relationships, a love advice column, and private counseling on the Internet. Or for less educated, but nonetheless interesting advice, use Joe's AMAZING Relationship Problem Solver! (studsys.mscs.mu.edu/~carpent1/probsolv/rltprob0.html).
Of course there are always those who don't have a love in their life. Perhaps you are desperate and dateless for Valentines' Day. Who hasn't been at one time or another? The Internet has thousands of newsgroups, chat rooms, and sites for those single but searching. If you're curious about that long, lost love of the past, look them up at InfoSpace (www.infospace.com). Valentines Day is a perfect time to find a lost love or rekindle the embers of an old flame. But where to begin? Type in the name of the person you want to find and provide the state and country if you know it. You'll get a list of potential addresses and email addresses.
If you are not involved but want to be, The American Singles Network (www.as.org) is a non-profit dating service claiming to have over 45,000 members - we even found some residing in Western New York. Speaking of WNY, the Buffalo Free-Net Singles Connection (bfn.org/~singles) and the Buffalo News Meeting Place (datemaker.com/buffalo) both allow you to post personal ads. There are also sites such as love.com and match.com among many others specializing in Internet matchmaking. As always, we advise those seeking love on-line to be careful.
Finally, we want to continue to help you utilize the Internet in your life. Let us know what you're interested in and we'll check it out. You can email us, firstname.lastname@example.org , or fax us, (716) 853-1350 and let us know what's happening on the Internet in WNY or any computing related activities you're involved with.