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By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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Men Are Good For Three Things

Uploaded: Sep 25, 2014

Men are good for three things. I've been reminding friends and family of this for years and it's time to go public. You determine the lineup, but the list is solid.

#1) We all know?

#2) Fixing Things
This includes, but is not limited to: mechanical stuff, hanging pictures and shelves, anything using WD 40, dealing with cars and things with cords, assembling things from IKEA, some IT, and most TV connection things. It also includes a few culinary applications. Oh, and massage.

#3) Ladies Choice
I used to think #3 was definitive like the other two, but have come to learn it is ladies choice. For me, that choice is "heat" ? men are warmer than me. This makes them good for night games, outdoor concerts, camping, etc. If you have another variation to #3 ? please share. Diversity in usefulness breeds survival.

Now back to the all-important #2?men like knives which makes them useful in regards to knife care. On a daily basis, keeping ones knife sharp is a solo process requiring only a knife and steel. Have you picked yours up lately? A steel is that "yet to be removed" stick that came with the knife block you got as a gift when you got married or graduated. Go over and take it out. If you aren't swiping a chef's knife (8" or longer) down a steel / honing rod, at a 20° angle, after every half hour of cutting time, you are doing it wrong. You see, knives have microfibers that bend over after use. In order to keep your knife sharp, you must straighten those fibers back up. But don't sharpen each time this happens because you'll remove too much steel over the life of your knife, and it will no longer be able to hold an edge. See here for an old, not very good video of me demoing the technique, or just google honing knife and watch someone else do it better. Steels make great holiday gifts by the by. Buy "the cheapest one," as Chef used to say. They wear out in a couple years and you'll need to replace it no matter the initial cost.

When it comes time to sharpen, every 6 months or so, you will need a wet stone (boo to the automatic grinders), and? a man is helpful. (Review #2 ? fixing things) They're programmed for stuff like this. Just show them a video and let them have at it. If you are like me and happen to be between boyfriends every now and again, make sure you have a thin metal (i.e. cheap*) blade. You can actually keep these relatively sharp with just a diamond steel (which does take off a little metal), thus possibly eliminating the need for men all together.

Well, at least till the next camp trip.

Or Ikea run.

photo by Christine Krieg

I get my cheaps at Kamei in the City. $5

I own the expensive ones, but have found home with the cheap.

Talking knives here, not men.

Kamei Restaurant Supply
606 Clement St, San Francisco

On another note... the people prevail!

Martins Beach remains open to the public.

Letters of support needed for Martins Beach and Judge Mallach?s decision to "bring down that wall." Khosla may appeal - some say this is headed to the Supreme Court. I am not sure why support is needed - isn't the law the law? Oh well, I guess billions have influence. Hey Scalia and Thomas, that's not in the Constitution.

Please send to:

San Mateo Daily Journal:

SF Chronicle:

Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by #3 is Men's Choice, a resident of Barron Park,
on Sep 26, 2014 at 5:38 am

Interesting, in that respect men are very similar to women: good for 3 things.

Posted by Laura Stec, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 26, 2014 at 7:35 am

Laura Stec is a registered user.

oh ho #3 is Men's Choice. This is a new one on me. Do tell.

Posted by Seriously?, a resident of another community,
on Sep 26, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Maybe if you showed men a little more respect you would not find yourself between boyfriends every now and again.

Posted by NW Resident, a resident of North Whisman,
on Sep 26, 2014 at 2:30 pm

How about "Men Who Can Cook." Where does that one fall on your list?

Posted by take it easy, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Sep 26, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Calm down Seriously?! Freedom of speech. You don't like the article then don't read it! Insulting people gets you no where.

Posted by Alan, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Sep 26, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Alan is a registered user.

Go ahead and say #1: Squishing spiders. We're really good at squishing spiders.

Posted by Some Other Guy, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Sep 26, 2014 at 2:59 pm

#1 is apparently pointless arguing

Posted by Times changed, a resident of Cuernavaca,
on Sep 26, 2014 at 3:05 pm

If the headline read "Women are good for 3 things" wouldn't most women immediately bristle?

Posted by um, a resident of another community,
on Sep 26, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Why bring gender into an otherwise moderately useful column on knife maintenance at all? Trotting out old gender stereotypes serves no purpose.

Posted by A Single Guy, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Sep 26, 2014 at 8:47 pm

I always thought #1 was taking out the trash.

But hey, maybe that's why I'm "A Single Guy". ;-)

Posted by Laura Stec, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 27, 2014 at 7:30 am

Laura Stec is a registered user.

Either I'm missing some of your humor, or a couple of you sound like fuddy duddies. Here's to the playful people! And now that you re-mention it, "between boyfriends" sounds even better the 2nd time around!

Posted by lindaK, a resident of Mountain View,
on Sep 27, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Laura S, your's is my kind of humor! You'd be fun to hang out with, I just know it. Between boyfriends? Sure!

Martin's FTW!

Posted by Laura Stec, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 27, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Laura Stec is a registered user.

lindaK - glad to see you're laughing! I think the world may be too serious for our kind. And NW Resident - welcome back to the Party! Love "Men Who Can Cook!" We put them in a totally different category. It's called "Keepers."

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Sep 27, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Guess I'm a "keeper." I cook every night. I can fix things. I do all the time, including cars and I build things including houses. I look good in nail bags too! lol Maybe that's why I've been married 20 years?

Posted by Laura Stec, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 27, 2014 at 6:09 pm

Laura Stec is a registered user.

OMG Menlo Voter - those nail bags get me everytime!

Posted by Mary hodder, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Sep 29, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Men are good for lots of things.. people are good for lots of things.

Articles like this are so retrograde as to encourage the kind of thinking that keeps men from caring for or getting appropriate custody of their children, stereotyping them into old roles that keep then from professions they might like to do such as teaching, nursing, or other traditionally female work, and causing them to engage in the "bro-grammer" behavior that is keeping women from getting funding for startups or hired in mostly male engineering rooms.

You aren't helping men her, nor are you helping women, and you aren't helping children.

Get some emotional intelligence. It would help you and everyone -- male and female and everyone else -- around you live healthier, more positive and accepting lives.

Posted by Dadx3, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Sep 29, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Our boys are getting into colleges at lower rates than ever before. We've focused many special projects in our schools at helping what was broken for girls in the system, but at the expense of boys. Many years of "Bring your daughter's to work day" went by, with all the girls having special days and special events at some companies, while the boys sat in their 1/2 filled classrooms wondering why they didn't qualify. It took years before tha one was fixed.
In adverts, the only politically correct person to make fun of is the male in the household. You'll always see Dad doing something lame while his family shakes their heads and rolls their eyes. "Oh Dad...(you incapable idiot)"

Yah, it can be fun to joke at times, usualy in a more private setting though. Lets not forget how many women had to endure the same sort of dismissive "C'mon, lighten up Cupcake, we're just having a little fun" after sexist remarks we thrown out.

Sexism hurts the future generations by very subtly but effectively reenforcing stereotypes in a society. Many times harm is not intended, but constant re-enforcement of stereotypes will do harm. I don't have a son, I only have daughters, but I've seen the changes to how we treat the boys and how they see themselves. Watch for some of the things above and I bet you'll be surprised at how often you see them, but then realize how often our young boys are seeing them as well.

Posted by Don, a resident of Midtown,
on Sep 29, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Laura, I get your sense of humor. I am a man, and it doesn't offend me.

One meme that did bother me, back in the day, was the feminist bumper sticker:

"A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle"

OK, so my three things about why women are necessary:

1. Sex and babies.

2. A source of ridicule and laughter as they overreact, e.g. "War on Women". Many of us guys get a real chuckle over that one. If there is such a war, it has usually been on men (remember all those guys who were drafted into war?).

3. Some of them have very nice singing voices, and it is very pleasant for men to listen to them.

Posted by Laura Stec, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 29, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Laura Stec is a registered user.

Readers - if you have made it down to here - you have probably forgotten this is actually a blog about knife sharpening. GO BACK and read that again. That's the important part.

Posted by Pretend Nothing is Wrong, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Sep 30, 2014 at 4:40 am

Is a story about women being good for a finite number of things focused on their dish washing skills next up? Here's the headline "Women are good for 3 things". In the story you can then focus on their dish washing skills and how great it is to have a woman around to clean up the kitchen.
I'm sure everyone will be talking about dish-washing after that story just like everyone is interested in knives now.
See the offense yet or are you still pretending and trying to convince yourself that you did nothing offensive?

Posted by Alan, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Sep 30, 2014 at 11:22 am

Alan is a registered user.

Laura - have you looked at men walking down the street the past couple days? All slumped over and looking depressed? They've read your column. *You* did this to them. It's true.

Sure - you can hand them some knives to sharpen - tell them to make themselves useful (after following the instructions in your column) - but that will only alleviate the pain for a moment.

Every word you write matters. Some people might say that you shouldn't take offense at everything; that, by clinging to every word people say, by inferring the worse of what they might conceivable mean in your imagination, you're actually building a cage for yourself, and making yourself more miserable than was ever intended or necessary. These people would say that you should be able to recognize a joke or sarcasm, as life is very difficult to get through when you can't. They might be even crazy enough to say that you can have a sense of humor without thinking any less of who you are or what you genuinely can do.

Do not believe these people. Take every blessed opportunity to be offended. It's your right.

Oh ... wait a minute ... you didn't say men were good at *only* three things, you said they were good at three things. There's nothing negative in your column at all. Whoops!

Posted by Robert, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables,
on Sep 30, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Robert is a registered user.

When my eldest daughter was 5 she was asked by her Teacher what does your father do best. Unlike any others she responded "Wash The Clothes"..."My Dad can get anything we spill out and clean". Yes, I wash the clothes, I cook, I frequently drive the kids to school, I clean, do yard work and the dishes. Oh, and on occasion the windows and of course the floors and vacuum. And yes, I work at least 70 hours a week. But, wow do I sharpen the knives... and they all make fun of me as this is a ritual I do before I carve the food (even veggies) before we eat. I wish mine was humor, but truth is sometimes more enjoyable

Posted by no clichés please, a resident of Barron Park,
on Sep 30, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I'm getting really tired of the men-are-only-good-for-this-or-that. It's been around for about 40 years now in public forums, and maybe it's time to hang it up and try to dig a little deeper. I would think you can still be funny, satiric, and spot-on about something without belittling half the population. It's hostile and stupid, all in the guise of a joke, which of course is the point, since it's meanness is plausibly deniable. I'm a feminist i suppose, and I used humor like this for about 20 years (I'm an old feminist). In fact, I do think it was valuable, for a time, in order to help prop up the women's movement's "self-image" by making fun of men. I don't blame us women for giving the gift of veiled contempt back to men in order to teach how much damage that sort of constant joking can do. It served a purpose for a long time, and then it became just a thoughtless and harmful habit, just as it was for men Try harder to write something that doesn't use such a tired offensive cliché.

Posted by Regular Voice reader, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Sep 30, 2014 at 2:48 pm

I hope Laura will learn from these comments that what's "playful" humor within her personal universe may not be in other peoples' universes -- and that a wide range of people read these blogs. (Waving away their comments as "too serious" or "fuddy-duddies" suggested that she didn't get this message yet, as of three days ago.) The future will show if she does.

Posted by MV Mom, a resident of another community,
on Sep 30, 2014 at 3:10 pm

In 1998 I'll never forget having to try to explain to my crying 9 yr old son why his sister got to go to her Daddy's work, but he could not because he was a boy. Let that one stew in your crock pot for a while.

Maybe I should have handed him a knife and said get to work?
I'm not sure what is more depressing. The sexism, the deniers, or the defenders of sexism, disguising it behind "humor".

Posted by Don, a resident of Midtown,
on Sep 30, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Come on folks, let Laura be Laura. She reflects her own sensibilities and her own humor. Many young women in Palo Alto share her views, as naïve as they are. Let's just laugh along with her, and put some humor back to her.

The latest ridiculous and humorous thing is the Sandra Fluke "yes means yes" campaign. Perhaps Laura can explain exactly how that works? Laura, do think men are expected to initiate necking/foreplay/sex...or should they say, "I want to initiate necking/foreplay/ that OK with you". How do you do it, Laura?

If you prefer that men initiate, then wouldn't that be another thing that we are good for?

Posted by Laura Stec, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 30, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Laura Stec is a registered user.

I think if I read this blog out loud, my critics would laugh at it more. We need a performance art blog Bill.

Posted by Laura Stec, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Sep 30, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Laura Stec is a registered user.

Want more chances to "diss my humor?" Read Cell Phone Fork. That one went over like a dud too, but I thought it was hillarious!

Posted by Ew, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Oct 1, 2014 at 6:47 am

Yes, that's it. People just didn't "get the joke". Maybe saying it out loud, or in a funny voice will better mask the unapologetic sexism.
Hmm. Not sure I'll be clicking on this blog for a while.

Posted by Laura Stec, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Oct 1, 2014 at 8:10 am

Laura Stec is a registered user.

We interpret life thru our experiences, and the people we have met along the way. It's interesting how different that can be for each of us, isn't it?

Posted by Occasional Reader, a resident of another community,
on Oct 1, 2014 at 9:04 am

It's not that I think the theme isn't funny. It's that I think the same theme if this were written by a man about women would be so blatantly misogynistic that the author would face disciplinary action of some sort. So, unless you want to live in a world where both themes would be OK for this article, then you'll have to do without either one.

Posted by Alan, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Oct 1, 2014 at 11:07 am

Alan is a registered user.

In essence, she said in point #1 and #3 that men are good for relationships; that's not stereotyping, that's typical heterosexual behavior. Point #2 was that men were good at fixing things; she didn't say women weren't. She didn't say anything negative about anyone. Who, prey tell, is the victim here? Men who really *can't* fix things, and hate having this expectation placed upon them? Real misogyny is a problem; don't waste your time with this.

Posted by Serious topic, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills,
on Oct 1, 2014 at 11:47 am

The problem is the headline is posted without context that this is a Humor/Foodie blog. Just says "men are good for 3 things" I have been reading way too much hate speech against women on the WSJ, Fox news, and a host of other sites in the last few months to just let this slide by. Have the articles I read have well "liked" comments stating all the perceived weaknesses of women... in the workforce, in relationships, parenting, divorce, and more. I know, I shouldn't read that crap anymore, but the reality is it's EVERYWHERE. You go online, you can't miss it. So now whenever I'm speaking with male friends and associates I half-assume they have this subtle or overt dislike or disrespect of women. My problem, I know, but people write on articles what they think but won't profess to people they know. My point is, this is too much a problem to think many people can read a humor post without thinking about the negatives out there about both genders.

Posted by The Shadow knows...., a resident of Crescent Park,
on Oct 1, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Some people have no sense of humor; some don't know when and where it's appropriate; and others take life waaaaaay too seriously. This thread displays all three in abundance.

Posted by Yah!, a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 1, 2014 at 12:26 pm

Very well stated Occasional Reader. Perfect.

Posted by Career advice, a resident of another community,
on Oct 1, 2014 at 10:16 pm

I was tricked into reading this blog because the writer is very good at writing teaser headlines, but has little to say after that.
That's career advice -- no charge.

Posted by foo, a resident of another community,
on Oct 2, 2014 at 12:35 am

I found this article pretty lame - just stereotyping. And stereotyping it is; you can test this by substituting any minority or protected in the headline. What reaction would you get? My guess is that your writing career would end right there. So: you should be glad that we, the men, can take this bullshit with tolerance. Well, hopefully it fades off the homepage soon, I'm getting tired to be reminded that I'm good for three things each time I visit.

Anyways, perhaps try to include a bit more substance in your post next time, yes? Or retire your blog, maybe? K, thanks!

Posted by Laura Stec, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Oct 2, 2014 at 8:09 am

Laura Stec is a registered user.

I see some of you have sharpened your tongues more than your knives. Chef sez, "Back to the kitchen with you!"

Posted by Really?, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Oct 2, 2014 at 10:39 am

Thanks for clarifying the key factors for which men are important.
Note to women: Kill your own damn spiders from now on.

Posted by Laura Stec, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Oct 2, 2014 at 11:05 am

Laura Stec is a registered user.

Now I never said men are ONLY good for three things Really?, but silly, killing spiders fits quite nicely into fixing things, so please, do continue!

Posted by Brian, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Oct 2, 2014 at 11:17 am

I was attracted to this blog because most PAOnline threads get too nasty for me. And I'm not even going to respond on the "three best things...". I'm going to provide my opinion on the knife sharpening issue. I am fairly resourceful around the house (not too good), and I am probably in charge of knife sharpening. But I refuse to do it. I want dull knives in my house. Even my Swiss Army knife is dull. My knives seem to work just fine on food even after years of no sharpening, but when I invariably get careless and miss the food, they don't do too much damage to my fingers.

Posted by Laura Stec, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Oct 2, 2014 at 11:20 am

Laura Stec is a registered user.

I too am waiting for this thread to come down (it's automatic they say) but until then, WOW Brian! Thank you for saying something about knives! Dull knives? Hmmm - that's new on me. What type of knife do you have?

And do the other blogs really get too nasty? Is that what readers want? Food Party readers - this is a party remember. Differing opinions are encouraged but if it ain't fun it don't get done!

Posted by Sharron, a resident of Midtown,
on Oct 2, 2014 at 11:57 am

I find it delightful, Laura! A real food fight! Non-PC, too! I also like that some of the men are givin' it back attcha (please answer Don's "yes means yes" question...that was a good one! Keep it coming!

A breath of fresh air!

Posted by Three things..., a resident of Barron Park,
on Oct 2, 2014 at 11:58 am

Laura - try these on for size and think whether anyone might be offended by them:

Women are good for 3 things...
Asians are good for 3 things...
Lesbians are good for 3 things...
Blacks are good for 3 things...
Jews are good for 3 things...
Hispanics are good for 3 things...

I'd say they don't sound too good. I'm sure you're better than that. My suggestion: admit you made a mistake and move on. It's not a big deal, but it offended some people without a good reason. You'll be a better writer and a better person for it.

Posted by Laura Stec, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Oct 2, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Laura Stec is a registered user.

Three things, I was going to write Women Are Good For Three Things next week, (and try to make it funny), but now I feel this nail has been hammered. But here's a clue - it was going to be the same three things! (#1 we all know, #2 Fixing Things, #3 - Warmth.) OK ladies...think about it. I am all yours until they take this gone-on-too-long-blog down - have at me!

Posted by Dilla, a resident of Gemello,
on Oct 2, 2014 at 2:03 pm

oh oh oh .... I'll take Hispanics are good for three things for $1000.
#1 making babies
#2 making more babies
#3 sharing small apartments.

At least this blog gets replies/responses. I respect you putting your views out there when you know not all replies are going to agree. And FYI ladies, tv,s and electronics are really not that confusing or hard. Now laundry? That's skilled trade right there!

Posted by ScottB, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:30 am

ScottB is a registered user.

Wow, a lot people in this Comments section are way too serious! Laura, don't let it get you down! Everyone is too easily offended these days, either for themselves or on behalf of others who they imagine are offended. I, for one, appreciated the knife-sharpening tips -- I learned something new.

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