The Filthiest Spot On Your Body

No, not there. Get your mind out of the gutter. When it comes to germs and viruses, the crook of your arm is now the devil’s elbow of infectious disease.

Everybody has been taught that sneezing and coughing into your hands isn’t cool. Even little children:


So now your hands are squeeky clean but your arm is a fetstering pool microbes. My advice: don’t touch anyone’s arm. Ever.

You may be saying, “Rob, why the heck would I touch someone’s arm?”

That’s a good point, but it’s what makes this arm thing so insidious. You take someone by the sleeve to show them the way. They sit down and lay their disgusting arms on your chair. People lean on the kitchen table. Changes the whole meaning of “rubbing elbows” doesn’t it?

Look do what you want, but until I start seeing people smearing Purell up and down their arms this is worth thinking about. Meanwhile get out the Clorox Wipes. And if you work at the dry cleaner, start wearing gloves.

Keep Stalling

Men are blessed with the ability to relieve themselves almost anywhere: behind bushes, in bottles, between cars, seated in football stadiums, in the subway… you get the idea. But here’s a case where you’re trying to do your thing where you should be doing it and you’re in plain sight anyway.

The men’s room at my new office has an electric door opener for those with physical disabilities. Well, it seems that some men on my floor (like the lawyers down the hall) enjoy using the electric opener so they don’t have to touch the handle. Fine —but it just so happens that this leaves the urinal user exposed and in plain site for a very long time, like to the folks getting off the elevator. See for yourself:

That’s ten seconds of exposure.

Look, I understand not wanting to touch the door handle, but come on guys, can I get a little privacy here? If you’re a germaphobe or something just push the door open with your elbow —and when you’re done use a paper towel to pull the handle from the other side. That’s not unreasonable.

One Flu Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

In Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later Britain is horrifically decimated by the outbreak of a virus —and it doesn’t merely kill people it transforms them into raging homicidal maniacs. Stephen King’s masterpiece, The Stand, also features the release of a superbug that brings civilization to its knees.

Swine flu may not be as scary as the viruses in fiction, but the outbreak is a potent reminder of how the invisible world around us is rife with danger —real and imagined. There was a quaint time when radiation was the most ominous specter we faced. The atomic age inspired works as diverse as On the Beach, Godzilla, and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

Of course it was frightening —but somewhere along the line microbes became our most popular boogeymen. Killer bug stories run the gamut from Michael Crichton’s science minded thriller Andromeda Strain to the over-the-top 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead.

It’s still early to say if life will imitate art and the swine flu crisis will hop the fence and  become a pandemic. My advice is don’t panic —but just in case you may want to read this handy article about dealing with zombies.

Don’t Drink the Water

Not Poland Spring Sparkling Spring Water With Lemon Essence

This I guarantee: the fluid in that bottle is not Poland Spring Sparkling Spring Water with Lemon Essence. Oh sure, it may have once been deliciously crisp and refreshing sparkling water with a hint of citrus —but it isn’t anymore.

I saw this bottle in the parking lot at work and just had to take a picture. Why? Because it tells us something interesting about men: we can pee anywhere at anytime, even in the car.  Maybe the idea of  urinating in the car sounds revolting but believe me, it can be handy in a pinch.

Anyway, there are two things to remember if you are going to pee in a bottle in your car: first, Gatorade bottles are much easier to use. Second, please properly dispose of urine filled containers. Thank you for your cooperation.

From the Notebook

I keep hearing a radio spot for an herbal supplement that’s supposed to promote prostate health. The announcer wants to know if you have any troubling symptoms. He asks, “Do you get up to go to the bathroom?” Huh? Well, yes as a matter of fact I do get up to go to the bathroom. Every single time. And when I stop getting up to go to the bathroom, that’s when I’ll know I have a problem.

Rob: Did you read this story? Some guy was hit by a car and killed after he ran into the road to get his dog.

Ann: Is the dog OK?

Denver’s Rocky Mountain News publishes its final edition today and that’s got me thinking about newspapers. If you live around Albany, you’ve heard people use the term Times Useless to describe their daily paper, the Times Union. After you hear that one about a thousand times it doesn’t sound clever any more —and besides it’s far from accurate. If you want to remain a well informed citizen, you’d better hope that good newspapers like the TU find their way through these tough times. This column is one of the better ones I’ve read on the topic —and there have been hundreds. And if you think local TV news will fill the void, read this piece from the NY Post’s Phil Mushnick.

Besides, newspapers are useful.


The nurse asked me, “How long will this take to grow back?”

She was shaving patches of hair off my body so she could attach EKG electrodes during my annual physical: three on the chest and one on each calf. How long to grow back? No idea —but certainly not in time for vacation on the beach.

Thanks to some bizarre brew of genetic happenstance, I am uncommonly hairy. No, I’m not real happy about this turn of fate, but what the hell? You play the hand you’re dealt. Oh sure, I’ve considered manscaping, but I don’t even like getting the hair on my head cut. Fortunately, Ann says she likes me just the way I am. If not for that -or if I were single or something- I’d be off to be waxed, trimmed, lasered…whatever it would take.

Last year on the beach a nearby family made no secret of their interest in my dog-like appearance. They gawked at me from their blanket, gesturing in my direction and chattering in amazement. Since they were speaking a foreign language I can’t give you a direct translation, but the inflection said, “Oh! Look at the hairy man!” They were obviously from a place where body hair is not the norm. My son Alex says, “Maybe they worship hairy people where they come from. Or monkeys.”

Anyway, the chest hair has mostly recovered from being sheared, but I still have two bare patches on my legs. And next time I go to the doctor I’ll be sure to do it in November.

Return of the Neti

Word came up from the newsroom that they were doing a story on neti pots. “Neti pots,” said a coworker. “Who the hell is neti pots?”

In some places the neti pot is as common as the toothbrush. It’s the tool used in the ancient ritual of jala neti, the practice of cleansing your sinus cavities with saline solution. You stick the stem of the neti pot in your nose, tilt your head and allow the fluid to drain out your other nostril. It sounds crazy, but let me tell you, this allergy season has been trouble free. I first heard about it on NPR. That figures, doesn’t it?

Pouring warm salt water in your nose takes a little getting used to. My first time was a disastrous mess, and since I used too much salt it burned like mad —but with a little practice I was soon a neti master. I shot a video of myself doing this, but it was so bizarre and revolting that I recorded over it. Fortunately, there are something like 175 neti pot videos on YouTube. I don’t recommend doing it at the kitchen sink like this guy, or after smoking pot like these women, but watch a few and you’ll get the idea. Below is the least offensive one I could find. If you suffer from allergies and sinus issues you may want to try this. It’s odd, but come on: you do grosser things in the bathroom.


Sound Affects

I was reading a story Sunday about people driven batty by the noises that come from their artificial joints. One guy found that it’s causing some… ummm… bedroom trouble:

“It can interrupt sex when my wife starts laughing,” said one man, who discussed the matter on the condition that he not be named.

While laughter has a important and natural role in your most intimate moments, I guess we need to draw the distinction between laughing with and laughing at. I’m happy to say that I’ve never been laughed at during those most private moments. At least not yet. And I did say during, didn’t I?

Laughing with is wonderful and healthy, and hey, what the hell: who doesn’t enjoy funny noises? Even during the old how-do-you-do?

Oh, yeah: what do these squeeky hips sound like? Glad you asked: listen to one on YouTube. They’ve got everything on YouTube these days.