Category Archives: Lists

Hospital by the numbers

After our trips to the UK and France, I posted articles listing some interesting numbers from the trips. My hospital stay was certainly no vacation, but I thought some of the numbers from that whole experience might be interesting as well.


Nights spent in the hospital during 2010 63
Nights spent in the hospital when my kids were born 2 (one each)
Nights spent in the hospital during the rest of my life (not including my own birth) 0
Number of hospital rooms I spent at least one night in 7 (plus a couple of nights in the ER and one in the TV lounge)
Number of roommates 10
MRIs 1
ECGs 2
Ultrasounds 3-5
X-Rays 5-8
CT scans 10-15 (including three since discharge)
Units of blood received at least 7
Units of fresh frozen plasma received at least 13
Number of drains in my body at one time 4
Number of drains total 7
Number of different tubes stuck up my nose 4 (one at a time, thankfully)
Amount of dead tissue and fluid removed from my abdomen during surgery 4 litres
Weight when admitted to hospital 178 lbs
Weight at discharge 151 lbs
Weight two weeks after discharge 141.5 lbs
Number of doctors assigned to me (total) at least 6
Number of nurses assigned to me (total) at least 25
Number of nurses who offered me backrubs 1 (but more than once)
Number of backrubs I accepted 0
Number of nurses who asked me to look up cheap flights to Poland (since I’m a “computer guy”) 1
Number of nurses who spoke Zulu 1
Number of scheduled daily injections (i.e. needles) as many as 6
Number of staples holding my incision closed 43
Cost of having a phone in my hospital room $14.69/week
Cost of having wireless internet in my hospital room $20.95/week
Cost of having TV in my hospital room (with “premium” channels) $90.40/week
Cost of having cable TV at home ~$60/month
Watching Sidney Crosby score the gold medal-winning goal for Canada Priceless


This is likely the last thing I will write on my hospital experience. I don’t want to turn this blog into a series of “feel sorry for me, I was really sick!” articles, but the fact of the matter is that I was really sick, and sicker than even I realized at the time. I spent more time in the hospital in two months than anyone else I know has in their entire lives, with the exception of one person – and my experience doesn’t begin to compare with hers. We now return to our regularly scheduled blog.

Top Ten Funny Song Lyrics

Not necessarily brilliant or insightful, just lyrics that always make me laugh. I left out comedy musicians like Weird Al or Jonathan Coulton (though I always laugh at “one bad-ass fucking fractal“). These are in no particular order.


  1. Paul McCartney, “Sally”
    When you’re away there are grey skies
    And when I’m away there are even more grey skies than the grey skies I told you about before
  2. Gin Blossoms, “Cheatin'”
    You can’t call it cheatin’, cause she reminds me of you
  3. ZZ Top, “TV Dinners”
    I like the enchiladas and the teriyaki too
    I even like the chicken if the sauce is not too blue
  4. A few self-referential songs, grouped together because they’re similar:
    1. Def Leppard, “Me and My Wine”
      You know I’d like to get to know you
      but I ain’t got the time, and I’m
      I’m finding it harder and harder
      to make this damn thing rhyme
    2. Alice Cooper, “School’s Out”
      Well we got no class
      and we got no principles
      and we got no innocence
      we can’t even think of a word that rhymes
    3. Primus, “Mr. Know-it-all”
      They call me Mr. Know-it-all
      I am so eloquent
      Perfection is my middle name
      and whatever rhymes with eloquent
  5. Led Zeppelin, “Travelling Riverside Blues”
    Squeeze my lemon til the juice runs down my leg
    Squeeze it so hard I’m gonna fall right outta bed…
    I wonder if you know what I’m talkin’ ’bout

    The same lyrics are in “The Lemon Song” as well, but the funny part is Robert Plant wondering if we know what he’s talkin’ ’bout. Right Robert, that’s a tough one. I’m not sure I can see through the layers of complicated symbolism there.
  6. Tom Petty, “A Mind With A Heart Of Its Own”
    I’ve been over to your house
    And you’ve been sometimes to my house
    I’ve slept in your treehouse
    My middle name is Earl
    (Important note: Tom Petty’s middle name is indeed Earl)
  7. Autograph, “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend Isn’t Me”
    Don’t remember any lyrics, I just like the title of this forgettable song from a forgettable band from the mid-80’s.
  8. Matchbox 20, “Long Day”
    I’m sorry ’bout the attitude I need to give when I’m with you
    But no one else would take this shit from me
  9. Dire Straits, “Industrial Disease”
    Two men say they’re Jesus
    One of them must be wrong
  10. Cake, “Short Skirt/Long Jacket”
    The whole song makes me laugh. It starts off with a guy singing about what kind of girl he wants. He wants “a girl with a mind like a diamond“, “is fast and thorough and sharp as a tack“, “with a voice that is dark like tinted glass“, that kind of thing. Of course, he also wants a girl with a short skirt and a long jacket. Then it gets a little weird. Now he wants a girl “with uninterrupted prosperity, who uses a machete to cut through red tape” and someone who’s “touring the facility and picking up slack“. And who wouldn’t want a girl with “a smooth liquidation” and “good dividends“? Finally he gets really specific:
    At Citibank we will meet accidentally [“Meet accidentally!” yell the backup singers]
    We’ll start to talk when she borrows my pen…
    She’s changing her name from Kitty to Karen
    She’s trading her MG for a white Chrysler LeBaron

Top Ten Musical Ironies

  1. U2, “Pop” – Pop is, of course, short for “popular”, yet this was U2’s worst-selling and most critically disappointing album ever.
  2. The Beatles, With A Little Help From My Friends. The song is sung by Ringo Starr, who is a fine drummer but a crappy singer. (Actually, he’s not even that great a drummer – John Lennon was once asked if he thought Ringo Starr was the best drummer in the world. John replied “He’s not even the best drummer in the band“, referring to Paul McCartney. But I digress.) He would never have been famous without a lot of help from his friends John, Paul, and George. The real irony is the first line of the song: Ringo sings “What would you think if I sang out of tune?”.
  3. Alanis Morrisette – Ironic – A song called Ironic containing no irony is itself ironic.
  4. Nirvana, Come As You Are – Kurt Cobain singing “I swear that I don’t have a gun” was the inspiration for this list.
  5. Various, Jingle Bell Rock and Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree. They use the word “Rock” in the title, but they are not rock. Not even close. As I’ve said once before, if Rrrrrandy Travis can sing Jingle Bell Rock without changing either his style or the song’s style, it’s not rock.
  6. Five for Fighting. The band name implies strength and toughness (dare I say truculence?), but all of their songs (that I’ve heard) can only be described as “soft rock” – in other words, wimpy and lame. More like two for unsportsmanlike diving.
  7. Yoko Ono. She doesn’t play any instrument – I’ve seen video of her pretending to play the keyboard (finger-syncing?) at a John Lennon concert as well as playing an electric keyboard that was not plugged in. Her singing makes Ringo Starr sound like Freddie Mercury. Yet she was married to one of the most talented musicians and songwriters of the rock era. And he thought she was supremely talented.
  8. John Mellencamp, Pop Singer. Apparently John “never wanted to be no pop singer, never wanted to write no pop song” but he is and he has. Several of them. Incidentally, if you ever get the chance to see Mellencamp live, do it. I’ve seen him a few times (and missed another concert a couple of years ago), and he always puts on a great show.
  9. Extreme, More Than Words. Sounds like a slow romantic ballad about true love (performed by a hair metal band, although that’s not the ironic part). This was even a popular wedding song in the early-mid 90’s. The irony is that is you listen to the lyrics, the idea of the song is not “I love you so much that I don’t have to say the words“, but “If you love me, you’d show me by having sex with me instead of saying the words.” Songwriters Nuno Bettencourt and Gary Cherone (aside: as soon as this article, containing that name, is posted to the internet, long-time Van Halen fans around the world will shudder and not know why) have admitted that the song is about sex. Likely not the kind of message you’d want to give at your wedding.
  10. Linda Ronstadt. She has certainly been successful for a long time, with Grammys and gold records and such, but at one point in the early 70’s, her backing band consisted of four guys named Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Randy Meisner, and Bernie Leadon. They went on to form The Eagles, who became far more popular than Ronstadt ever was.

Hospital: Roommates

My work insurance covers the cost of a semi-private room when staying in the hospital. When I moved from emergency into an actual room, we asked about paying the difference and moving to a private room. The hospital told us that even if they could give me a private room, it would likely only be for a night here or a night there because higher priority patients (i.e. those who require isolation) would be given the private rooms before the rest of us. As a result, I had roommates almost every night of my stay. None of the names below are real, and unless it’s critical to the story, I’ve left out why they were hospitalized.


My first roommate was a elderly gentleman named Harold who could not speak. (Aside: New entry on my list of “creepiest things to look at”: an old man sleeping with his mouth wide open.) I don’t know the reason he was in the hospital, but he had a fancy thing that he could hold up to his throat and talk, and you would hear what sounded like a computer-generated voice saying what he was trying to say. It wasn’t foolproof technology by any means – half the time it was just as hard to understand as his silent mouth movements. Harold was only with me for a day or two.

Roommate 2

My second roommate was also only with me for a couple of days, and I think it was when I was just starting to be a little more coherent at times, though I never caught his name. I remember him getting served his lunch or dinner, and he had real food on his tray. This was when I was still on water and nothing else (not even jello or juice or anything), and I remember being jealous and thinking “must be nice”. Then his doctor came in to talk to him and his wife, and it turned out that he was diabetic and was in the hospital to get some toes amputated. The whole “must be nice” thing faded pretty fast.

Roommate 3

After the diabetic guy, I apparently had another roommate for a night or two – an East Indian doctor who works or used to work at Grand River hospital. I have absolutely no memory of this fellow, but Gail tells me he existed.

At this point, I was moved down from the 6th floor to the 5th.


My first roommate on the 5th floor, Peter, was probably in his mid-50’s. We didn’t have any conversations or anything, but we said hello a couple of times here and there. He spoke some English, but sounded to me like he was German or Austrian or something. One night I was heading to the bathroom when he popped his head out from behind his privacy screen and started talking to me in what I perceived to be gibberish. When he was done, I politely told him that I had no idea what he was talking about. He talked some more, and again I told him, “I’m sorry, I still don’t understand”. In the next “blurb”, I heard the word “Croatian”, and I immediately said “No, I don’t speak Croatian.” He asked about Serbian, and I told him that I couldn’t speak Serbian either. He then said something like “…then what…” I told him “English” and he said “Oh, English!” as if English was a really weird language to speak in Ontario. I went to the bathroom and returned to bed.

A few hours later, some movement in my room woke me, and over the PA system, there was announcement of a “Code White” in progress on my floor, and then they specifically mentioned my room number, but the other bed. A short while later, the Code White was cancelled, and four security guards brought Peter, weeping, back into the room and secured him to the bed. It turned out that he had had some kind of breakdown and wanted to “run away”. After he left our room, the nurses tried to stop him but he grabbed a pencil from the nurses desk and brandished it like a weapon. (Code White means something like “we have a patient who is a danger to himself or others”.) He left the next day, though I don’t know if he was discharged or moved somewhere else.


I had the room to myself for a half a day, and then they brought in Henri, who spoke with a French accent – eventually I found that he was originally from somewhere in Northern Ontario. I don’t think I even had a “hello” conversation with him, but he wasn’t afraid of telling the nurses anything they wanted to know, and a bunch of stuff they likely didn’t want to know. His first night, a nurse asked him why he was there, and he matter-of-factly said “I’m addicted to painkillers”, and also told her that he liked to get drunk a lot. He was very specific on the types of booze that he would buy because it was the cheapest and the strongest. Sorry, I don’t remember the names he mentioned.

He never once pressed the nurse call button, he’d just wait until he heard his nurse (or possibly any nurse) outside the door, and yell “Excuse me!” Not a morning or evening went by that he didn’t remind his nurse to bring him his pain meds. At the time, I thought he was just being impatient, but it then occurred to me that he was essentially going through detox right there, so he was probably in as much pain (some physical, some not) as I was.

He wasn’t the friendliest of folks (not surprising, as a depressed homeless drunk drug addict). He asked one of the nurses if she spoke French and she answered no. He then spoke to her in French, which is rude enough as it is.  When she came over to my side to do some work on me, she mentioned that she doesn’t speak French, but she has lots of family from the Sudbury area and as a result she understands more French than she speaks. She knows what he said to her (though she didn’t tell me), and it wasn’t very nice.

He was with me for at least a week, possibly two. The day he left, he was getting dressed when a nurse came in, and he got angry at her, saying that she was trying to look at his <something in French>. Guessing at what the word meant, I had to laugh – nurses see a hundred of those a day, and I’m pretty sure that nobody was trying to see his.


Daniel was my roommate for a week. His wife came to visit him every day, and they were both pretty friendly, so we had a few conversations. A couple of times his grandkids came in (ages about 3, under 2 and about 8 months) – the oldest loved to play matching games or “war” with grandma, but he cheated like crazy (according to grandma). Nice couple – not much else to say about him.


Ronald was an older English gentleman. At one point, Gail, the boys, my parents, and my sister were all visiting me, and he called out asking when they were leaving. We thought he was just being rude, as did his wife (“Ronald!” she said), but then he said no, he just wanted to leave with them. Over the next couple of days, however, his mind seemed to go, and he fell into dementia. He was calling out for “Ruth” to help him, though there was no nurse named Ruth. Other times he’d call out his wife’s name (which was not Ruth). He had difficulty doing pretty much anything, but got angry when nurses tried to help him, even cursing at them a couple of times.

Once, (during the day when he was more coherent) he was bragging to the nurses that he was a math whiz and asked them to give him a math question. Someone asked him 50 times 99. Then one nurse said “We have another math whiz over there – Graeme! What’s 50 times 99?” I quickly multiplied 50 by 100 (5000) and subtracted 50 and said “four thousand, nine hundred fifty”. All was quiet from the other side of the room until Ron said loudly “smart ass”. We all had a good laugh.

During the day, for the most part, he was pretty coherent, though he slept a lot. At night though, that’s when his mind seemed to go. He’d call for his wife in the middle of the night, he once asked a nurse to call him a cab because he wanted to go to Grand River Hospital (and refused to believe that he was already there), and he asked me once if I could give him a ride somewhere tomorrow.

After a little over two weeks, he was transferred to another hospital in Kitchener.


Will talk your ear off, loudly, with a strong German accent. Quite the impressive history of hospitalizations and surgeries (including hip replacement, cancer, chemo), especially given that he was 80 years old, and quite spry for his age. Actually, he was quite spry for someone ten years younger. Just a day or two after he moved in, I was informed that I was having my surgery, so I moved out.

After surgery, I was taken back to the sixth floor, where I was given the same room (601) as I was in the first time I stayed on 6. The next day I was moved to a different “wing” of the floor, which turned out to be just around the corner, but the nurses here are more accustomed to dealing with recovery from abdominal surgery. I only had one roommate the rest of my stay.


Charlie was an 88-year-old stubborn-as-an-ox Ukranian guy (It’s getting more and more difficult to come up with interesting but not cliché ethnic pseudonyms for my roommates, so Charlie will just have to do for this one, OK?). I’m not sure what he was originally in for, and his surgery was a couple of days before mine. He had a lot of visitors – his son came every day, sometimes more than once, as did a number of others. His son called him “tato” a lot (and I mean a lot, sometimes twice in the same sentence), which I interpreted as Ukranian for “dad”, since nobody else (except his other son, who was only in once or twice) called him that. He had a picture of his twin 21-year-old grandsons on his table and would tell every nurse he had who they were. He was obviously very proud of them, and they came to visit a lot too. At one point his wife was also admitted to the hospital, and they took him downstairs in a wheelchair a couple of times to visit her.

As I said, he was pretty stubborn, so a few times his nurse would tell him that if he wanted something, he had to press the call button, but he’d try to get out of bed himself to do whatever it was. I’d press my call button (which was shared with his), and his nurse would come in and give him hell for getting out of bed. Then once I got out of my bed to go to the bathroom, and so he called the nurse. The nurse told him that I was stronger than he was and that it was OK for me to get up by myself. After a week or so, he ended up strong enough to get out of bed by himself.

He spoke with a strong Ukranian accent, so we didn’t have a lot of long conversations. Near the end of my hospital stay, I was diagnosed with a minor virus that required me to be in isolation, so after two weeks with Charlie, I was moved to a private room. Charlie went home the next day, and I went home about three days later.

Hospital: Little luxuries

I am now home from the hospital. I was discharged on April 2, exactly eight weeks after being admitted. I still have a lot of recovery to do, but boy, is it good to be home.

I did a little bit of writing while in the hospital, but not much. I wrote a long article about my various roommates, which I’ll publish in a day or two, but here’s one regarding things that are normally important to people but not when you’re in the hospital.

These are some things I have not seen or done since I arrived at the hospital. Note that these are strictly because of being in the hospital, not related to my particular condition.

  • Money. I’ve paid for a few things with credit cards (phone, TV, internet), but that’s only because I have my credit card numbers recorded somewhere. I have no idea where my actual wallet is (I think Gail has it), nor have I used cash.
  • Travelling by car, van, bus, truck, etc. I got here in an ambulance, but since then the only modes of transportation for me other than walking have been wheelchairs and stretchers (and moving beds around with me in them once or twice).
  • Clothes. I wear a pair of pyjama pants and a hospital gown every day. I get new pants and gown every day or two. (Note: that was before surgery. I don’t wear the pants now because of this big ol’ incision across my belly.) I have a housecoat that I can drape over myself if I get cold. I have a few pairs of socks and a pair of slippers. That’s the entire extent of my wardrobe.
  • Haven’t seen, pet, or played with any dogs or cats, or any other kind of animal. I miss playing with my sister-in-law’s dog Candy, and being ignored by my sister’s cats.
  • Weather. There were a couple of days where Gail took me outside for a few minutes because it was so nice, but apart from that, I don’t generally care whether it’s sunny, cloudy, rainy, snowy, or anything else. The only times I do care is (a) when I have to close the blind on my window because it’s too sunny, and (b) when I have visitors from Waterdown or Toronto, and I don’t want them driving in bad weather. Of course, Gail drives here every day, so I suppose I should care every day, shouldn’t I?
  • Food. I was on a “clear fluid” diet for a long time – nothing but Jello, juice, popsicles. Then I got moved to a “full fluid” diet, where I got things like milk, Cream of Wheat for breakfast, some creamy soups, that kind of thing. Still nothing to chew. Since the surgery, I’m back on clear fluids. I can’t tell you how sick to death of Jello I am.

Top Ten Rock Cover Songs

I had fun putting together the list of Top Ten Rock Instrumental Songs a little while ago, so I decided to do it again. This time, I’m listing artists that took a good song and did an great cover. Again, these are in no particular order.

  1. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band: Blinded by the Light. The Springsteen song is all right, but Mann’s cover blows it away. I wrote about this song a few years ago.
  2. Dream Theater: Funeral For A Friend / Love Lies Bleeding. I love the original Elton John version as well but Dream Theater’s live version on “A Change Of Seasons” is excellent. They also do a great version of Deep Purple’s Perfect Strangers.
  3. Aerosmith: Come Together. They didn’t make vast changes to it, but they managed to make it sound like an Aerosmith song. If only we could forget the terrible movie it came from.
  4. The Ataris: The Boys of Summer. Make no mistake, the Don Henley original is one of my all-time favourite songs, but I really like this cover. Weird – a one-hit-wonder band, and the one hit wasn’t even their song.
  5. Creedence Clearwater Revival: I Heard It Through The Grapevine. The original is a Motown classic, but the CCR version is a rock and roll classic – eleven minutes long with a number of guitar solos.
  6. Van Halen: You Really Got Me. I was a huge Van Halen fan back in the 80’s, and now whenever I hear the Kinks original, I just think “how lame”. Van Halen actually did a number of pretty good covers in the David Lee Roth days (i.e. back when they were good) – Where Have All The Good Times Gone (more Kinks), Dancing In The Streets, Happy Trails, Ice Cream Man, You’re No Good, Big Bad Bill, Oh Pretty Woman.
  7. Metallica: Turn The Page. I’m a fan of Bob Seger, and this is one of his best songs, but Metallica’s version kicks serious ass.
  8. The Tea Party: Paint It, Black. Of all the bands to take a song with a sitar in it and do a cover without one. They just made it a straight-ahead rock and roll song and did a great job.
  9. Queensrÿche: Scarborough Fair. Can a hard rock band take an acoustic Simon & Garfunkel song, add distorted electric guitars, and make it their own? Yup, turns out.
  10. Faith No More: War Pigs. I really prefer Faith No More’s version of this song to the original, though admittedly I’m not a huge fan of Ozzy or Black Sabbath. Faith No More also did a cover of Easy by the Commodores, but rather than doing a Faith No More version, their version sounds like the original.

Runners-up: U2: All Along The Watchtower, John Mellencamp and Meshell Ndegeocello: Wild Night.

Honourable mention: Seether: Careless Whisper. Started off as a joke during a concert, but they did a good enough job of it that the fans loved it, so they actually recorded and released it. Cool song.

Top Ten Rock Instrumental Songs

I’m only going to list instrumental songs by artists who primarily perform non-instrumental work, otherwise I could sit here all day listing Eric Johnson and Joe Satriani songs. There are in no particular order.

  1. Rush: YYZ – one of the first instrumental songs I remember from when I started really paying attention to music in the early 80’s, and still stands to me as the quintessential rock instrumental song.
  2. Alice in Chains: Whale and Wasp – Combines a beautiful acoustic guitar (the “whale”) with the occasional screeching electric guitar (the “wasp”). Listening to this song was the inspiration for this list.
  3. Triumph: Fingertalkin’ – An outstanding acoustic guitar piece by Rik Emmett, one of the best guitarists in any genre. Too bad it’s on what was probably Triumph’s worst album, “Progressions of Power”.
  4. Metallica: The Call of Ktulu – The opening sounds like two guitars playing together, but it’s only one. If they replaced Orion (also an excellent song) and Leper Messiah on Master of Puppets with this song and Creeping Death, Puppets would be the perfect metal album.
  5. Linkin Park: Session – the sole “electronic” entry on this list, complete with record scratches. In general I’m not big on this kind of stuff, but this song is very cool.
  6. Rush: La Villa Strangiato – over nine minutes long, and features some amazing guitar work from Alex Lifeson. I still think he’s the least musically talented member of Rush, but he ain’t no slouch either.
  7. Steely Dan: East St. Louis Toodle-oo – Somebody cranked the wah-wah pedal up to eleven for this one.
  8. Pink Floyd: One of These Days – Technically shouldn’t qualify because there are lyrics – right in the middle someone says in a very distorted voice “One of these days, I’m going to cut you into little pieces”. But David Gilmour plays some pretty sweet slide guitar.
  9. The Tea Party: Winter Solstice – two acoustic guitars and someone tapping on what sounds like a wooden block. Some of the fastest strumming you’ll ever hear.
  10. Porcupine Tree: Wedding Nails – Kick-ass guitar over a driving bass / drum beat.

Runners-up: Songs that I had listed originally but then I kept thinking of more.

  • Sarah McLachlan: Last Dance
  • Metallica: Orion
  • The Tea Party: The Badger
  • Yes: Mood For A Day

Top ten reasons why being a Rock fan is better than being a Bandits fan

  1. Getting tickets to a Rock game is getting easier, while getting tickets to a Bandits game is getting harder
  2. No annoying cheering and yelling during games – much quieter while you are sending email on your Blackberry
  3. Orange shoes are distracting
  4. Same coach and GM for seven years? Where’s the fun in that?
  5. No counting lessons (“1, 2, 3, …, n, WE WANT n+1!”) or spelling lessons (“B O X”) during Rock games
  6. Rock fans can look back at the early years when Les Bartley and Jim Veltman led them to multiple championships
  7. Mark Steenhuis is greedy – keeps hogging All-Star game MVP and player of the week awards
  8. A Bandits player has the same last name as the coach/GM… suspicious. That would never happen in Toronto.
  9. Rock coach arrested for beating up an opposing player. Boring Bandits coach could beat up just about anyone on the planet, but doesn’t.
  10. Weekends free in late April and May

I’m Half the Man I Used To Be

Popular Mechanics has a list of 100 skills every man should know. I don’t get why it’s not a list of skills everyone should know, but whatever. There are certainly things that I think everyone should know that aren’t on the list (change a tire, install a light fixture, barbecue a burger, and bake a pie using a recipe would all rank higher on my list than “fly a stunt kite”), but I guess that’s a matter of opinion. I thought it might be fun to go through the list and see what I can do.

Bold means I can do it, italics means I can to some extent, and regular type means DYI FAIL.


1. Handle a blowout
2. Drive in snow — Duh, I live in Canada
3. Check trouble codes
4. Replace fan belt — but I can change my air filter like nobody’s business
5. Wax a car — I’ve done it, though I did a lousy job (you could still see circles on the hood of my dad’s car months later)
6. Conquer an off-road obstacle
7. Use a stick welder
8. Hitch up a trailer
9. Jump start a car

Handling Emergencies

10. Perform the Heimlich
11. Reverse hypothermia
12. Perform hands-only CPR — I’m sure I knew how to do this at one point; I did get a St. John’s Ambulance badge when I was a Scout
13. Escape a sinking car — The very thought of this terrifies me.


14. Carve a turkey
15. Use a sewing machine — I have done it, but only once or twice and not for many years
16. Put out a fire
17. Home brew beer
18. Remove bloodstains from fabric
19. Move heavy stuff
20. Grow food
21. Read an electric meter
22. Shovel the right way — Again, Canadian. Don’t hafta like it though.
23. Solder wire
24. Tape drywall
25. Split firewood
26. Replace a faucet washer
27. Mix concrete
28. Paint a straight line
29. Use a French knife — I don’t remember knives in France being all that different from those here
30. Prune bushes and small trees
31. Iron a shirt
32. Fix a toilet tank flapper
33. Change a single-pole switch
34. Fell a tree
35. Replace a broken windowpane
36. Set up a ladder, safely
37. Fix a faucet cartridge
38. Sweat copper tubing
39. Change a diaper
40. Grill with charcoal
41. Sew a button on a shirt
42. Fold a flag

Medical Myths

43. Treat frostbite — use warm water, not hot
44. Treat a burn — run it under cold water, and if you have an aloe plant, break off a leaf and rub it on the burn
45. Help a seizure victim — best I could do would be to scream “help!” and call 911
46. Treat a snakebite
47. Remove a tick — I’ve read about it, but never done it

Military Know-How

48. Shine shoes
49. Make a drum-tight bed
50. Drop and give the perfect pushup


51. Run rapids in a canoe — I can steer a canoe pretty well, but I’ve never done it in rapids
52. Hang food in the wild
53. Skipper a boat
54. Shoot straight
55. Tackle steep drops on a mountain bike
56. Escape a rip current

Primitive Skills

57. Build a fire in the wilderness
58. Build a shelter
59. Find potable water

Surviving Extremes

60. Floods
61. Tornados
62. Cold
63. Heat
64. Lightning

Teach Your Kids

65. Cast a line
66. Lend a hand — Lending a hand is a skill? I thought it was just not being a dick.
67. Change a tire
68. Throw a spiral
69. Fly a stunt kite
70. Drive a stick shift
71. Parallel park
72. Tie a bowline
73. Tie a necktie
74. Whittle
75. Ride a bike


76. Install a graphics card
77. Take the perfect portrait
78. Calibrate HDTV settings
79. Shoot a home movie
80. Ditch your hard drive — Given the events of the last couple of weeks, don’t even go there.

Master Key Workshop Tools

81. Drill driver
82. Grease gun
83. Coolant hydrometer
84. Socket wrench
85. Test light
86. Brick trowel
87. Framing hammer
88. Wood chisel
89. Spade bit
90. Circular saw
91. Sledge hammer
92. Hacksaw
93. Torque wrench
94. Air wrench
95. Infrared thermometer
96. Sand blaster
97. Crosscut saw
98. Hand plane
99. Multimeter
100. Feeler gauges

Results: I can do 54 out of the 100 things on the list, plus a few maybes. I’m just over ½ of a real man. Sorry, gotta go; I’ve got a quiche in the oven.

The most overrated rock artists

1. The Ramones. I simply do not understand the fascination with this band. Sure, Blitzkrieg Bop is a decent song, but that’s about it. The singer has a lousy voice, and all of their songs sound the same. People seem all excited about the fact that they only know three chords and aren’t great musicians, and this somehow makes them one of the classic American bands. I don’t see why. There are other punk bands who are actually decent musicians, and there are thousands of other bands out there that have no musical talent. What makes the Ramones different from them?

2. Queen. I like Queen. They’re good musicians, they have some great songs (Bohemian Rhapsody is a true classic), and I like the Greatest Hits album that I have. But I’ve listened to many of their other albums as well, and the songs that aren’t the hits (and even a few that are) just aren’t that good. Freddie Mercury was a great singer; in fact thinking about it now, he might be one of the best rock singers ever. Brian May is a very good guitar player, but there are better guitarists out there. Overall, Queen was a very good band, no question. But in 2007, a BBC poll declared them to be “the best British band of all time”, ahead of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin. This is ridiculous.

3. Radiohead. I’ve heard them described as the best band in the world right now. Again, I just don’t get it. “OK Computer” is supposed to be their best album and according to Wikipedia, “a landmark album of its time”. Rolling Stone and Time magazines both listed it among their greatest albums of all time — Spin magazine says it’s the number one album of the past 20 years. I listened to it a few years ago and just found it boring. Maybe it’s one of those albums that you hate when you first hear it but grow on you after a while, so perhaps I’ll give it another listen.

4. Rod Stewart. Sang a couple of decent songs in the 70’s, but ehhh.

5. Aerosmith. Tyler is a decent singer with a unique voice. The rest of the band are good musicians. They’ve got some good songs but as with Queen, I find that the non-hits are just filler. I got kind of tired of them in the 90’s when they did a bunch of “power-ballads”, culminating in the completely awful “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing”. And listening to someone as ugly as Steven Tyler singing about sex as often as he does is just creepy.