Category Archives: manly matters

Call Me Lefty

It’s been a glorious summer so far, but thanks to a bum arm, there have been some minor inconveniences.

In June I injured my arm while on ambulance duty when lifting an oxygen tank. If memory serves, when it happened I commented, “Fu*K! Fu*K! Fu*K!” and proceeded to hop cartoon-like around the ambulance bay.

I’m not sure I actually heard my distal bicep tendon tear, but I immediately knew there was trouble and ended up riding in the ambulance as a customer, not an EMT. It’s worth noting that the incident drew everyone within radio distance so they could stand around and watch me writhe in pain.

Lifting an oxygen tank does not make for a very glamorous story, so in order to spice things up I concocted a variety of tales that made my arm more interesting. The top three:

1. I lifted a car off an injured person.

2. Caught a baby tossed from the window of a burning house. No, wait — TWO babies.

3. Wrestled a contaminated needle away from a deranged patient.

The long and short of it is I required surgery to reattach the tendon, a barbaric procedure that involved drilling a hole in my arm bone. This video shows what they did:

After ten days in a soft cast and a month of wearing a sling, I’m starting to get better, but full recovery is still months away.

The lesson here: when there’s something heavy to lift, find someone else to do it.

A Dollar and a Dream

When it comes to shaving, I go with the cheapest. The cheapest shaving cream, the cheapest blades and no fancy balms or lotions.

But it’s not just about money.

One time my wife brought home a big bag of remarkably elaborate and expensive looking razors. They came from someone who works in R&D for a big razor company; he was hoping me and the boys would try these fancy things and provide feedback. I didn’t touch them. Nope. Just give me my plastic disposable twin blader. You, know, the kind of razor they let prison inmates use. Seems to work just fine!

Being so cheap committed to the basics,  I was intrigued by the Dollar Shave Club. It seems that a dollar — and another two dollars for shipping — will get you five blades a month. They even throw in a free handle. Very well, let’s give it a go. This could mean I never have to even think about razors again, and that I like the sound of that.

I’ll let you all know how this goes. In the meantime, watch this tremendous video from Dollar Shave Club. It’s one of the big reasons I signed up.

Let One Rip

When I heard that legendary local sportscaster Rip Rowan had died it left me melancholy. There goes another one, I thought.

Rowan was one of those old school guys who were in ample supply when I got into the TV business, before pretty faces became the norm, and street smarts meant more than a degree from Newhouse.

But as I pondered the passing of Rowan, I could not get this thought out of my head: how did he get the nickname, “Rip?”

Like a prayer answered, my question was addressed in today’s paper:

“Rowan had a mischievous streak, which included legendary on-set flatulence, according to McLoughlin. “He did it on purpose. It was murder,” he said.

Ha! Try that today and you won’t get a colorful nickname, you’ll be sent to visit HR — and likely receive a ticket to some sort of sensitivity training class.

R.I.P. Rip.

Sink Sank Sunk

faucettMy toolbox is like the “cap and ball Colt” revolver Steve Earle sings about in Devil’s Right Hand: It can get you into trouble but it can’t get you out.

But friends, never let lack of skill get in the way of doing things. Where would ‘Merica be with that attitude — especially when it comes to projects around the house?

Our most recent home improvement adventure was getting new counter tops installed over our old cabinets, which is not as good as doing the whole kitchen over, but better than nothing. Now the cabinets look like their supposed to be old and quaint, instead of just crappy. My role in the job?

  1. Rip out counter top and sink.
  2. Re-install sink and temporary counter top (plywood) after counter people measure.
  3. Remove sink and temporary counter top before counter installation.
  4. Hook up plumbing under the sink.

Now that sounds reasonably easy– except getting through the cabinet opening under the sink is a chore. There is absolutely no way to work under there in any sort of comfort. First you squeeze in sideways because it’s so narrow, an then rest your weight on the cabinet opening.

My question? How do plumbers do this sh*t?

All I can figure is that the best plumbers are wiry little guys who can wriggle into tight spots, rather than normal sized fellows — like the counter installer who mounted the sink. He slid in and out of that cabinet like a weasel going after whatever weasels go after.

Maybe I should have tried paying him to hook up the water and drain, but I will say this: I was extra careful to do the job right so I’d never have to squeeze in under there again.

Man Shopping

It’s Christmas crunch time, and the hours are dwindling. I don’t know about you, but there’s still shopping to be done  — and I’m thinking this would all be easier if I were married to another man.

A man, you ask?

Yes, because if I had a husband and not a wife I’d just go out and buy things that I like. For example, I’d start with a trip to  Lowes or Home Depot and pick out some tools. Guys like tools. It doesn’t much matter if they won’t be used frequently, because as collectors of tools we just like to know that we have them. Another great things about tools is that there is something for every budget; you can spend just a few bucks and get something interesting — or if you really care about your man, how about a Dewalt 12-in 15-Amp Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw. You really care, don’t you?

While you’re at it, stop at the beverage center and get some fancy beer — and if you still need something, get on Stubhub and buy some football tickets.

Oh, I could go on all day like this, but I am not married to a man and I need to figure out what the hell I’m doing.

Light Me Up

After the Christmas Blizzard of 2010 crippled New York City Mayor Bloomberg was roundly criticized for botching the emergency preparations. He took no chances as Irene approached in 2011; even though the storm skirted New York and barrelled upstate instead he got high marks. This week, as bad as Sandy was, the emergency planning in New York saved lives.

I poked fun at the obsession with hoarding water before Sandy, but now I admit I was wrong. No, over-preparing beats getting caught with your pants down. I’d rather be stuck with something I don’t need than stuck without something I need.

Which leads me to flashlights. Monday afternoon found me collecting up all the flashlights in the house: big ones, small ones, headlamps, penlights — and the MagLite XL50. It’s no secret that flashlights are on of those things that guys love, and this blindingly bright LED does more than just illuminate, it has several fun features like a strobe mode:

That may look useless, but it’s entertaining to sneak up on someone and shine it in their face when they aren’t expecting it. Ten minutes later, when they can see again, you’ll all have a good laugh.

Urine Trouble Now

This must have been the most perfect tailgating spot ever: right up against a wide stretch of sidewalk where we’d have plenty of room to spread out our stuff — and close to a row of sparkling clean portable toilets.

Being next to the toilets brought a steady flow of interesting people to our corner of the parking lot at MetLife Stadium as we got ready for the Jets home opener. Several stopped by to comment on my son’s Bills jersey.

But even though there were five relatively clean toilets right there, the dudes next to us insisted on dashing across the road to pee in the bushes. As the traffic picked up this got more interesting to watch, especially since these guys — and folks, I’m going out on a limb here — may have had a drink or two.

jets tailgaters

Draw your own conclusions about why men like urinating outside, but meanwhile let us turn to the strange case of Rob Koebel.

Mr. Koebel “resigned” from his job as an investigative reporter at WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee after being arrested for public urination. Koebel has not had the best year ever; in July his ex-wife published a book called Love Isn’t Supposed to Hurt, which chronicles her abusive first marriage and her ex-husband’s “violent, profanity-laced tirades.”

This did not happen at Sunday’s Packers game, but outside an Apple store. There aren’t enough police in Wisconsin to arrest everyone urinating publicly in the Lambeau Field parking lot.

The Right Stuff

Those of a certain age remember when they would roll a TV into in your classroom to watch NASA launches. By the time my kids were in school, that was unheard of.

I’ve written before about my childhood obsession with the space program; it all came rolling back this week with the death of Neil Armstrong.

Armstrong may deny his status as a hero, but he was unquestionably — how shall we say — one cool mofo. Case in point: the Apollo 11 Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) that Buzz Aldrin piloted to the surface of the moon was not quite exactly tested all that thoroughly. Meaning what? Meaning NASA had never tried landing an unmanned version of the vehicle on the moon’s surface — nor checked to see if it could take off from the moon. Failure on either count would have lead to one of history’s greatest “Oh, sh*t” moments.

That was a real enough possibility that the space agency had developed secret procedures on what to do if Armstrong and Aldrin were stranded on the moon. There was even a speech already written — by William Safire — that President Richard Nixon would have delivered in case the mission ended in disaster.

If that doesn’t convince you of Armstrong’s moxie, watch this video of Armstrong ejecting from a LEM training vehicle in 1968, moments before its spectacular crash.

Oh, Canada

On Canada Day, our neighbors to the north celebrated the birth of their fine country with picnics, parades, and fireworks. This year’s observance was more significant than usual as this marks the the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the War of 1812. Nobody here cares much about about that, but in Canada? The war of American aggression is still a big deal.

But as Canadians ate hot dogs, drank beer, and lit sparklers, at a remote outpost  in Ontario two young Border Services agents defended their country against another threat from south of the border.

That threat was me.

CBSA checkpoint, Wolfe Island, Ontario

Our car was loaded with the usual vacation clutter as we rolled off the ferry from Cape Vincent, NY to Wolfe Island, Ontario. We’d never spent more than a minute at the tiny customs station near the ferry dock — but something alerted the keen eyed officer that I could be trouble. “We’d like to search your vehicle, so please have a seat on the bench over there.”

We sat in the sun and took it in stride. What could possibly go wrong? “Sir, would you step into the office?”

The officer behind the counter held up a knife. “We found this under your seat.” He had found the folding knife I keep in an emergency kit, a small pouch crammed with gadgets and supplies I’ll probably never use. “We asked if you were bringing any weapons in with you, and this is a weapon.”

The knife is sort of imposing, bigger than something you’d keep in your pocket, but the real problem was its assisted-opening blade which can be deployed with one hand.

“Do you have any other weapons on you?”

Well, as a matter of fact… I took my smaller knife out of my pocket, one of similar design, and put it on the counter. The regarded me skeptically. “I’m a volunteer firefighter, so I don’t go anywhere without a knife. I think of them as tools, not weapons.”

After another half hour they called me back in and told me I was getting off easy. Since it seemed like an innocent mistake they would not arrest me or impound the car or make me pay the $1000 fine ($500 per knife). And no, they would not be returning my “weapons”.

I graciously thanked them, for it’s always best not to be a wise ass when dealing with the authorities, and went on my way. They did their part to protect Canada from knife crazy Americans and I proceeded to enjoyed vacation, armed only with the tiny blade on my Leatherman Micra.