Psst … C’mere … Wanna Tattoo?

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For God’s sake, just say NO.

The other day I asked my friend Pamela if she has any tattoos.

This is a little game I play with women … many women with tattoos have them in secretive but intriguing places, and so they have to show me their “taboo” tattoo – on the slope of the breast or at the nape of their curvaceous bum crack – they want to show it to people, but are nervous to “bring it out” unless asked.

Anyway, Pam said,

Would you put a bumper sticker on a Ferrari?”

Great answer. She’s right. Ferrari Tattoo I’ll be honest – I sometimes see a tattoo that I think is attractive, but it’s invariably small and not easily spotted – usually on the shoulder, near the hip bone, or at the ankle.

But I think Pam is in the minority opinion these days from what I see out and about.

There are a ton of metaphorical non-Ferrari Jettas and Corollas roaming our streets, “bumper stickers” hung out like full-size colour billboards on the highway.

It’s difficult to look at tattoos branded on the arms of Holocaust survivors and think of the positive aspects of permanently inking our bodies.

But, self-expression is an important feature of the human race and, like a book chapter, each tattoo worn tells a story of the individual – some of the stories are intentional and filled with passion, others are deeper-rooted and less obviously intended.


And to my keen observing eye, body art is growing into a huge phenomenon with no signs of slowing down.

According to my high-tech info bible Wikipedia:

In January 2008, a survey conducted online by Harris Interactive estimated that 14% of all adults in the United States have a tattoo, just slightly down from 2003, when 16% had a tattoo. The highest incidence of tattoos was found among the gay, lesbian and bisexual population (25%) and people living in the West (20%). Among age groups, 9% of those ages 18–24, 32% of those 25-29, 25% of those 30-39 and 12% of those 40-49 have tattoos, as do 8% of those 50-64. Men are just slightly more likely to have a tattoo than women (15% versus 13%).

When I attend a lunchtime hot yoga class in Kelowna that is filled mainly with pretty, toned, 20-somethings, of a class group of about 20 persons, my companion Kara and I are close to being the only ones with no visible tattoos.

Isn’t it enough to not blend in because of our ages, but then to snap out further as body art-compromised too? How can I, Mr. conservative, be the freak?

Yoga tattoo

When I was younger, I would come across a tattoed person occasionally, usually a guy who had been in the armed forces, with an anchor on his upper arm, or a biker dude with MOM angled over top of a bright red heart.

“Dare” tattoos layered on at night while out liquored up with the buddies.

Tattoo parlors were dingy little shops in seedy areas of the inner city, scary places where you weren’t sure you would escape alive, or at least with all of your facial features unarranged, and minus unwanted infections.

And then one day it changed.

Tattoo parlors sprouted like spring daffodils, broadcast seeding the city streets with a rainbow-tinted assortment of human art studios.

What used to be back-alley naughty stuff has become mainstream for both men and women … so what’s going on here?

Are we becoming Maoris needing to symbolize our family heritage and marriage status?


I’m perplexed and need to know. Try these thoughts on for size and tell me if I’m heading in the right direction…

Every generation, every decade, has its theme that we reminisce about 20 years later.

The 1950’s had bobby socks and Buddy Holly and hanging out at the local drive-in eating burgers and fries while really it was all about hooking up with cute girls and guys.

Then the 1960’s came along and the Beatles and the Vietnam War, hallucinogenic drugs, and prominent assassinations were all the craze – literally. Protests sprung up in a bunch of cities and university campuses, but it was really about hooking up with cute girls and guys.

The ’70’s had bell-bottom pants, disco and lava lamps, pet rocks and James Taylor, the Bee Gees, Queen,  and Supertramp, but it was really about hooking up with cute girls and guys.

And on and on we go…

Are you detecting a theme here?

Maybe, just maybe, tattoos are the fashion of the early 2010’s, a hair style or clothing trend that makes us more sexy, more appealing and more likely to have sex on a Sudbury Saturday night.

The sight of an undulating snake on the arm of the Adam Levine look-alike is the deal clincher that will bring on the O-face for that Woo Hoo girl looking for her Bad Boy.

Yes, tattoos are about belonging, like sharing a cigarette in front of your high school with the cool gang. Could you possibly be a Hell’s Angel member and not carry the skin-art marks of acceptance?

When your best friend is prematurely cut down in the prime of their life, what is a more soothing tribute than having their name etched into your ankle with a group of friends?

A few years back, I was thrust from between my mother’s legs art-free. It’s true.


This is just a temporary tattoo I had drawn onto my shaved chest on a conference bet that I … WON!


Since then, I’ve had occasional little daydreams of throwing my conservative nature to the wind and popping a half-pint of colour onto my ankle or chest. But in the end, I suspect I’ll exit this world in the same natural state that I was born.

Temporary could be the way to go:  Indian culture has henna tattoos, kids have their tattoo stickers … why not inked “compression sleeves” that can be changed like your hair colour or the outfit-of-the-day?

Me? I’ll never own a Ferrari nor will I boast a bumper sticker on this practical Honda Civic that is me.

kid tattoo


The 1,000 Hour Rule


10000 hours

I’m just too ADHD for Malcolm Gladwell’s renowned 10,000 hour rule of mastering something … ANYTHING.

Sure, it worked for the Beatles and for Bill Gates and countless prominent others – but like American Senator Lloyd Bentsen said to Dan Quayle during the 1988 vice-presidential debate:

I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy“.

And I am no Paul McCartney or Steve Jobs or Margaret Mead.

These are all extraordinary people who bled buckets of blood and sweat over years and years to pursue and perfect just one special thing.

Songwriting. The Personal Computer. Anthropology.


They focused their entire beings on their passion with unbounded dedication. It’s bloody admirable and I celebrate their accomplishments. It’s like they won gold medals in the Life Olympics.

But for this Man on the Fringe, anything I do for more than an hour or two at a time becomes a burden … yes, a job. Even my laboratory job that I enjoy becomes a job after 4 hours at my desk, so I’m packing it in in two weeks and indulging my ADHD side.

I accept and sometimes even celebrate that I’ll never be a master of anything.  Huh, you say? Why?

I know Mr. Miyagi would be disappointed in me… wax on, wax off… oh, go catch flies with chopsticks Mr. Miyagi!

I’m resolving to be a mini-master using the 1,000 hour rule.

Yup. 1,000 hours.

One thousand hours is no small feat.

Concentrated effort that is expended for that time frame will take you or me to a level well above the norm – whether its playing violin, sinking golf putts, or painting landscapes. It just won’t make us Anne Sophie Mutter, or Tiger Woods, or Salvador Dali.

Let’s put 1,000 hours into context ’cause it’s pretty meaningless when I just put it out there as a number.

A personal example: I’ve been writing this blog once each week (more or less) for a little more than 2 years now.

On average, I guesstimate that I spend 5-6 hours perched wiggling and squirming in front of my keyboard for each post. It’s not easy to avoid the lure of porn for such long periods. Modern man wasn’t made this way …

Putting all of my grade-school math skills into play tells me that 52 weeks x 2 years x an average of 5.5 hours… equals…

572 hours

572 hrs2

This means it’s going to take me about 182 weeks of writing these posts to reach 1,000 hrs of writing. That’s three and a half years of consistent week-in week-out blog writing at a pace of 5 and a half hours a week.

That’s a time frame I can live with. I hope – and feel confident – that my writing skills will continually improve at this pace AND it lets me do a bunch of other things I love to do all at the same time.

Take those same numbers and plug them into whatever your great interest or passion is: piano, knitting, dumpster diving, baton twirling, soap making, archery, Russian lessons, disco dancing … the list is endless but the point remains the same.

You can become really good at a number of things in just a few years with some reasonable focus and effort.

No SuperHuman skills necessary.

Man in leotard

See… anyone can do it …

If I was trying to achieve the 10,000 hour level of accomplishment, I would need to multiply my daily efforts by 2 to 10 times in order to meet the MASTER level within 4-25 years.

This is why I could never be a great entrepreneur. The passion and focus needed is not a part of my internal makeup … it just isn’t.

There’s something beautiful about doing something for the first time.

If I tried to dedicate 10,000 hours to merely one area of interest, I’d be sailing away at the end of my years with many fewer life firsts – and there are so many first adventures I don’t want to miss.

So … Paul, John, George and Ringo’s troubles are all far away with their “Yesterday”‘s fame. Bill Gates can feel relaxed sitting by his fireplace knowing I will never replace his “Windows”.

Dear Mr. Gladwell:

I’m only 1/10th the person that you write about in your excellent book (Outliers) but I’m content knowing that I can live a great life without being GREAT.

There will be no gold medal for this guy but I’ll stand on the podium all the same – silver medallion swinging in the breeze from my neck – with a smile just as big as if I was the winner.

That is, if I can fit the medal presentation in between German language class and creating a fantastic Chicken Kiev a la Julia Child .


Man On The Fringe

Dilbert 10000 hr rule

8 Reasons Why Internet Dating Sucks …



Online dating worked out well for me,

but my wife wasn’t as lucky.”

Comment posted on website Jezebel

online dating

This week I’m going to write to you about something of which I know nothing (as per usual, you say!). Like Seinfeld, this will be a blog post about … NOTHING.

Let’s face it … I’m from a pre-internet era where we had no electronics and little money and did things honestly when it came to dating.

We got barely-see-straight drunk on tablesfull of 25 cent draft beer and tried to pick up pretty girls in Irish pubs and flaky bars … FACE-TO-FACE.

Of course when you’re blotto drunk, the beer goggles make every girl look hot. I’m not sure that beer goggles work the other way around for girls looking at guys.

Sadly, I don’t recall ever getting luckier (or come to think of it, lucky at all!) as the night’s drinking progressed. Mind you, it’s hard to tell face down over a cold, porcelain toilet bowl. That sort of sums up my lack-of-success stories on the dating front.

Nowadays, past that stage, I just snoop in on others’ lives and smile and frown and identify when the shoe fits the life experiences I’ve had.


Last week, a co-worker Linda came into my office fuming, an angry sneer on her lip and cellphone waving madly in the air.

Linda’s a pretty, young, single Mom who wants someone special to come home to at night. Someone to share her stories with. Someone to share a meal with her and her young son.

The last few years since she’s been on her own, she’s tried her fortunes with online dating, but has only had hugs from frustration and anger.

At coffee break one week, she brightly tells us a story about a guy she’s “met” on Plenty of Fish –  her raised expectations and hopes reflect like shiny new pennies in her eyes and her smile.

Everyone online sounds like a winner … at first.

It’s like catalogue shopping and everything looks so new and lustrous and “I’ve gotta have one of those” great. And when you first meet the person, the shimmer is still bright for the first few minutes until you realize…

A week or two later the same coffee table talk turns into a “BITCH-fest” about the A**-hole who let her down or turned out to be a creeper.

We all want to love and be loved and it truly sucks when the goalposts shift back and forth so that you just can’t kick the ball into the net and celebrate. It’s frustrating and it’s lonely. It’s like anger and sadness kissed you on the cheek.

Linda says, “This guy was so nice online for the first while and then last night he messages me saying he wants me to tell him when I’m going to bed … what’s with that? Later, he leaves me a voicemail message, “Goodnight Sweetie” …Creeper!”


On-line Dating Graph

Without any further delay, let me tell you why you might want to run screaming in the other direction from Internet dating sites. If I was internet dating, these are some things that would have me biting my fingernails.

Realistically, I know most single persons (and many encumbered ones too… apparently 51% of all online dating people are in a relationship already) will still continue searching for love online.

Our human suitcases are overfilled with hope and longing … the fear of loneliness and lovelessness are greater than our concerns about child rapers and father stabbers. But still I’ll cautiously remind you of what awaits, lurking in the internet ether:

8 Reasons Why Internet Dating Sucks …

1. It’s dangerous…if you’re getting responses from:  ILuvUrTaTas, pussylover69, MightyDong69, GoinDown… there might be an early warning built in here.

There have been studies indicating that one out of 10 sex offenders use online dating to meet other people. Also, about 3% of online dating men are psychopaths.

More danger? Some people are gaseous wonders. Who wants to spend their life with a chronic odor maker? … that is dangerous!

2. The “best” products are snapped up in the first 5 minutes.

The photo is the first impression you get with internet dating. The pretty sweethearts and the manly hunks are prey to be devoured … quickly.

Once the sale is announced, nobody wants to be left purchasing the crumbs left in the remainder bin. Unless you’re online 24/7, it’s leftovers for you, my friend.

Most internet dating match-ups end like this ...

Most internet dating match-ups end like this … NOT!

3. It avoids face-to-face contact …. all of those telltale signs of dishonesty like avoidance of eye-contact are impossible to interpret over a computer screen so you have no way of knowing whether the other person is truthful or not.

Our bright or grubby personalities are far more obvious when we converse face-to-face.

You can spend a lot of time establishing rapport with your “future one-and-only”, only to meet and discover a rat within 30 seconds. That’s a lot of time wasted.

4. It raises expectations … when you do find that one random person that does fit all of your supposed “must-haves” you get your hopes up so far that you are devastated when a real person shows up, at some point, with their own set of flaws and baggage.

5. It’s like obituaries, people post pics of themselves taken in the one best moment ever, 15 years earlier, no zits, no side profile shots of witch-like noses, no hint of a 60 lb. weight gain in the interim.

6. It exposes semi-literacy … online writing (eg. e-mails) makes us realize how few people can actually spell correctly or write a grammatically correct sentence.

Even the smartest people these days have trouble writing properly, and you may exclude fantastic potentials, just because they’re semi-literate. This cuts both ways though. It’s nice to be able to screen for those who say they have a law degree but spell their career choice as “Loyr“.

7. It’s way too rational falling in love isn’t logical.

Love, like the lab I work in, is based on chemistry. It’s not based on height or earning capacity. Love is all about feelings and emotions. Dating site profiles deal with personal information. You’re choosing and rejecting potential mates by making rational decisions, whereas in real life, we choose partners by our emotional responses and establishing compatible neuroses.

8. The hot looking stud who came across so well in the messages and texts is a narcissistic twerp in person.

Conversely, the plain-Jane looker turns out to have a sparkling, bright personality that makes her 10x more beautiful than the photo portrayed. Beauty in a person is far more than the perfect symmetry of their face, or the chiselled cut of the jaw line.

Cute Guy Profile

I told you that there would be 8 reasons to avoid internet dating, but I always like to give you more for your money, so here’s an added BONUS.

Another colleague of mine, Carina, offered this next thought from her experiences.

9. The Cupboard Doors Are Always Open … even after you’ve established meaningful contact with a hopeful prospective partner, you’re able to see if they’re continuing to search online for “better” meat.

It hurts to feel you’ve exposed a part of yourself to someone who responds with tenderness only to see them continuing the passionate pursuit with others online.

Who wants to know that someone who has made their heart flutter in romantic expectation is still hoping to catch a slightly better fish.


There you have it … everything I know about nothing.

I don’t know anything about internet dating and truthfully, even when I was dating, I knew little about the best way to meet and seduce young ladies.

I was the cowardly dating lion and only asked someone out whom I had known, worked or studied with for months.

If I wasn’t 99% sure that I would get a positive YES to my request, or if by chance the young Miss was on the verge of herself asking me out of patient frustration, I wasn’t going to risk my ego.

So, it may be that what I’ve told you hasn’t quelled your burning need to meet that notable, unique someone from the comfort of your desktop.

I understand.

Life is about arithmetic. When you meeting someone new, you add to your sum and have greater value. And if you don’t have greater value as a pair, then you subtract that someone to get back to where you started.

But real value is created when that someone new becomes a multiplication to your sum, making each of you far more than just a simple addition.

Well, I’m gonna add even more value for you below. I’ve done your homework for you … you’re welcome!

Here are 10 actual sites that – tongue-in-cheek – just might satisfy the hunger you have for that very special, SPECIFIC someone.  These sites remind me oh so clearly that there truly is someone out there for everyone.

Maybe I’ll even recommend these to my exasperated co-worker Linda just as a reminder that she should take a deep breath and remember there are “Plenty of Fish” waiting to be kissed and not just fried.





















Summer Lovin’ … Tell Me More Tell Me More…




TRUE FACTOID: France’s Eiffel Tower can grow by more than 6 inches in summer due to the expansion of the iron on hot days.

RUMOUR: On the beach on a hot bikini summer day, many men find that the same … sorry … I got lost in a lustful side thought, won’t happen again.


I can feel my hands gripping the wheel of my 1967 4-door brown Rambler American sedan, cruising along Hamilton’s Van Wagner’s Beach overlooking Lake Ontario, thick, humid air blowing through my long, dark 1970’s hair.

There’s an incredibly salty scent of Hutch’s french fries drifting on the breeze that makes my stomach rumble as I drive along. My right hand rests gently on the knee of my girlfriend who’s tempting me maybe even more than the french fries with her firm, tanned legs reaching from her navy blue stretch shorts to the floor.

The 8-track player that just about bankrupted me to buy, pumps out Beach Boys, America, Peter Frampton, and Eagles’ harmonies.

Intermingling with the music is the raucous percussive mating symphony of the little cicadas bursting from the trees.

And just like I still do today, I’m singing the harmony part unashamedly at the top of my lungs.

Even at that time, I was aware enough to think to myself, “could life get any better than this?


With July now sending its sizzling temperatures our way in the northern hemisphere, it puts me to wondering:

What songs are your favourite to croon along with?

And … What makes a great summer song? 

  • Is it the hint of romance?
  • Is it about youthfulness and escape?
  • The fast tom-tom beat in the background?
  • The perfect layering of harmonies?
  • Calypso rhythms?
  • The mention of buff tanned boys and bikini-clad girls on the beach?

I think the answer is yes to all of the above and a thousand other things that somehow give each of us an eyes-closed-floating-on-the-water feeling and the sense that the sultry sun is lighting us up from within. Hot liquid energy exudes from our pores when the music’s beat is absorbed.


Summerland to Peachland

The scene from Summerland’s fruit orchards and vineyards towards Peachland …

Every Thursday morning, I chauffeur myself along highway 97 through Peachland and Westbank to work in the lab in Kelowna, about 40 k north of my home in quaint little Summerland.

And on that one day each week I have about an hour and a half of driving (there and back) through Canada’s verdant Okanagan Valley orchards and vineyard scenery.

I cast my eyes out over the sparkling water for Ogopogo and imagine that every ripple in the water’s surface is actually the tip of the beast’s- akin to the Loch Ness Monster – dorsal fin.

It IS spectacular to make this winding journey in the summer months but this drive and this blog aren’t about the vistas of lakes and mountains … it’s about Summer Songs and Singing … in cars.

Cars are amazing things. They were built to move us rapidly from Point A to Point B, but I think the real reason cars were created – this is true, right? –  is 3-fold:

  1. to put babies to sleep
  2. to allow young children to prove/disprove Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest while bickering and slugging it out in the back seat, and
  3. make the best music studio for personal singing … ever.

Oh… and I suppose you could add:

4. which is to give young and old lovers alike the chance to test out their yoga skills in backseat lustful encounters.

The steamy shower stall may be your song studio of choice, but driving alone for periods of time in a motor vehicle is when I do my best singing. A car stereo system cranked up is the perfect accompaniment to belting out a song I love.

Car stereos give us all sorts of options for song choice. The old days of singing along with limited choices on a car radio are now replaced by not only the radio itself, but also CD’s, iPod tracks by the thousands, and satellite radio stations.

In an earlier post, I told you about my, and asked you for your, SADDEST songs … but this is summer and summer has its own vernacular, right?

Just to get you thinking along the summer song track, let me give you some examples of tunes that strike a summer chord for most of us.

Billboard 100’s Top 10 Summer Songs

Summer Songs

*Based on each track’s performance on the Billboard Hot 100 chart from August 4, 1958 — the inception of the chart — through the chart dated May 31, 2014.

10 Summer Nights, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John (1978)

9 Hot Fun In The Summertime, Sly & The Family Stone (1969)

8 Surfin’ U.S.A., The Beach Boys (1963)

Summertime, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (1991)

6 Endless Summer Nights, Richard Marx (1988)

5 Surf City, Jan & Dean (1963)

4 Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini, Bryan Hyland (1960)

3 Wipe Out, The Surfaris (1962)

2 Summer In The City, The Lovin’ Spoonful (1966)

1 California Gurls, Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg (2010)

Kind of interesting that 6 of the Top 10 were recorded in the 1960’s, isn’t it? Just one came from each of the 1970’s, ’80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s.

My own personal summer playlist will give me away and pinpoint me as a Baby Boomer whose formative years were the 60’s and 70’s… we all have an era that lives inside us as our own personal “Primetime”.

What does YOUR personal playlist sound like?

Let me list a few of my summer favourites:

  • Take It Easy … Eagles
  • Firework  Katy Perry
  • I’m Sexy And I Know It … LMFAO… there’s nothing like “wiggling” along the highway to this at 6 am! Makes it hard not to spill my Tim Hortons coffee in my lap which would make it a REAL hurtin’ song!
English: Katy Perry performing at the 2008 War...

(I’m behind Katy singing right along)

and finally, just for boppin’ through the  summer of 2014

  • HAPPY   Pharrell Williams
Then He Kissed Me

What would summer be without convertibles and  Beach Boys?


I could go on and on as I feel myself drifting back in time again just hearing the names to these songs. I can hear the old voices and smell the hot summer scents – even feel my heart quickening with the sun-kissed emotions of the moment.

There must be a million songs that work their summer charm when it’s time to roll our car windows down ….

So Tell Me More, Tell Me More.

When you get a minute, tell me, if you had to choose just one song to sing in the sizzling summer heat of your car, what would it be?