Archives For Humor

Let’s start here: The new Apple Watch looks cool as heck.

That said, I will not be purchasing said watch.

And it’s not that I don’t want one.

See, watches have always been hit or miss for me. As you might imagine, it’s a bit tricky when you only have one hand. I’ve had several over the years, but they’ve never been high on my list of priorities. Well, except for this one:

The Calculator Watch!

The Calculator Watch!

So, why won’t my wrist be home to this new-fangled fancy-schmancy gadget from Apple? For several of the same reasons I never got the calculator watch.

First of all, there’s really no practical way for me to take advantage of the touch functions on the screen. It’s been suggested I wear a watch on my left arm, but to that I say – you try wearing a watch above the crook of your elbow next to your bicep. Yeah, not gonna happen. I’ve also been told that the watch has Siri. I’d like to talk to my watch on occasion, but not on every occasion. The screen technology looks amazing, but isn’t accessible for me.

"Touch me!" said the screen.

“Touch me!” said the screen.

Second of all, that sweet looking digital crown dealio. Looks totally rad, right? Well, I’d never be able to use it. This has always been an issue with cool watches I’ve wanted. They have buttons and knobs all over the dang place, which is just not practical for me. Buttons for lights and timers and modes and laps and whatever the dang heck else they can fit on there! So, enjoy pressing and playing with that button with your other hand. Seriously. Enjoy it.

Look at that thing. Just teasing me.

Look at that thing. Just teasing me.

And thirdly, most of the straps are ill-suited for folks with one hand. Now, I will say that a couple of them, what with their magnetic features, look decently usable. But, most of them are not. You can see my current watch and the type of closure it has in the following video:

Now, truth be told, I pulled that watch out of my dresser drawer to make this video. I haven’t worn it in months. Why?


Seriously, the most brilliant part of this whole deal is that Apple has convinced us all that WE MUST HAVE WATCHES. Let’s be honest, nobody needs a watch. Nobody. And our phones already do virtually everything this new watch does. But, man oh man, is it cool! It looks amazing and the technology seems incredible and I don’t fault a single person on Earth for wanting one, but it certainly isn’t a necessity.

Which, in a round about way, brings me to my last point: Not everything is for everybody. I could throw a fit about how this watch is not limb-different friendly and lambaste Apple for not thinking of ME, but the fact of the matter is that the majority of Apple’s customers will be able to use it flawlessly. And their job, as a business, is to focus on those who are going to buy and use their product. So, while it’s a bummer that it’s not going to work for me, it’s not like they’re infringing on my rights. They’ve made an incredible product that is going to be awesome for tons of people.

Just not me.

And that’s totally fine. They don’t owe me anything. I’ll just play with one of my friends’ when they get one.

Unless, you know, Apple wants to send me one to test.

Sometimes when someone’s getting to know me, I do this thing.

It goes like this: A group of us are hanging around and we start joking about random stuff. I’ll say something dumb to try to setup the new guy, like, “Hey, let’s give so-and-so a hand!” and the new guy bites and says something like, “Not you, though!” He’ll have this very satisfied look on his face, like he’s one of us now. Then, I’ll scowl and look right into his eyes and say, “Dude…not ok. I’ll let you know when it’s ok for you to joke about my arm. That’s my decision to make.”

The room is quiet.

He’ll swallow hard, start to sweat and apologize profusely.

Then I’ll crack and say, “Totally kidding, dude! It’s cool!”

We all throw our heads back in laughter and the frame freezes and the music plays.

It’s wonderful.

Now, dear reader, you are in one of two camps: You’re either laughing…or you think I’m a total jerk.

That’s the thing with humor; it’s completely subjective.

I mean, my wife says she married me because I make her laugh, but I would wager she only thinks about 70% of the stuff I think is funny is actually funny. Sophomoric humor is not beneath me. Puns are fantastic. Reading websites devoted to cataloging all of the characters who lost arms in the Star Wars series is good fun. And then there’s…


Buster Bluth. Monster.

Buster Bluth. Monster.

If you’re not a fan, Buster Bluth is a character in the TV show Arrested Development. In season two, Buster loses his hand when it’s bitten off by a loose seal. He then obtains a hook arm and essentially overdramatizes everything in relation to it. Now, some people would find this offensive on many levels. I, on the other hand – HA! – get that they are purposely taking Buster’s actions to the extreme for comedic effect. And gosh dang it…it’s funny!

But that’s the trouble with humor, right? It can be unfunny or even offensive to one person, yet hilarious to another.

I’ve written before about the idea of having a laugh about your “disability,” and I know it rubs some people the wrong way, but it’s a concept I fully believe in. It’s a drag to take ourselves so seriously all the time!

As someone who tries to be funny, especially in the public arena, I understand that not everyone will appreciate what I think is funny. It stinks, but I get it. If you even dabble in the field of humor and can’t accept this fact, you’re doomed.

For instance, I came-up with these ideas for some t-shirts a while back (which you can now purchase here).

I'm all about being helpful.

I’m all about being helpful.

Ultimately, if I wear a shirt that I think is funny and somebody else doesn’t think it is…that’s ok. My focus is on the ones who do.

So, this is what I think: I think it behooves us all to give each other some slack when it comes to humor. By all means, if it’s mean-spirited or demeaning and you’re upset by it, discuss it with the person. And those of us who try to be funny need to be aware that this could happen, even if it’s not our intent. When that happens – own it. Explain, apologize if you need to and move on.

Ultimately – for me at least – I’m going to keep being a goofball. I’ll keep trying to get people to smile and laugh.

That’s just how I roll.

How do YOU roll? What are your thoughts on incorporating and even basing some of your humor around your “disability”?


Miles O’Brien has been a journalist for over 30 years and has won every award you can name. Countless assignments of his have put him in harm’s way and yet, as Miles says, “Life has a way of surprising you.”

Sadly, Miles hasn't been able to maintain his sense of humor since the accident.

Sadly, Miles hasn’t been able to maintain his sense of humor since the accident.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The unlikely accident that led to the amputation of his left arm just above the elbow
  • The long road to recovery and what that looks like in his daily life
  • The emotional and social effects of the amputation
  • Being a one-handed MacGyver
  • Re-learning to ride a bike and setting ambitious goals ( Bike Ride)
  • The current state and future of prosthetic devices (e-NABLE)
  • Miles’s desire and plan to get back into the cockpit and fly a plane (Able Flight)
  • And more!
"Every day I learn something new."

“Every day I learn something new.”

Follow Miles on Twitter @milesobrien.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here.

If you’ve been married for any amount of time, you know how this goes. You have an incredible weekend away, with no distractions, and you feel as connected as you’ve ever been. You hold hands and gaze into each others’ eyes to pass the time. As you go to sleep, the stars shine brighter. And as you wake, the sunrise is more beautiful and birds are chirping…and they’re not even annoying you! Your marriage is everything you ever wanted it to be. You feel strong and in love and on target.



Then you get home and it’s back to real life.

I don’t mean to be pessimistic, just realistic. Those weekends away are absolutely vital to the health of a long-term relationship, but they’re definitely more fantasy than reality. You don’t need to worry about paying bills or going to work or cleaning-up your kid’s puke on your weekend away. It’s all about each other. When you get home, though, your love is tested. Things aren’t perfect and life happens and your resolve and loyalty to one another is challenged.

That’s what I’m speaking to right now. That time where things are ok, but not “weekend getaway” perfect.

And here’s the thing: Most of the time you don’t need a seminar to get back on track; you just need a reminder.

I asked my wife, “What’s good about our marriage?” The look on her face was my queue to rephrase the question. “No, I mean, our marriage rules! But why? What makes it so good? That’s what I meant!” I stammered. We talked for a little while and I decided that while that’s a good question and something we should continue to think about, it wasn’t what I was really after. I just wanted that little jolt of energy for us. Something that would punch us in the gut real quick and remind us of how good we are together. Something to get us through the “we’re ok, but not great” time. These were the two questions that did the trick; the ones that served as the reminder for us.

What always makes us laugh? This question is so fun to answer. It could be anything! For us, one of the things that always makes us laugh is coming up with titles of books we will someday write as the powerful marriage advice duo, Drs. Ryan and Julie Haack. Usually we come up with these right after having a fight. Just being honest. Fighting Fair Is For Losers by Drs. Ryan and Julie Haack. When Husbands Cry by Drs. Ryan and Julie Haack. Making-Up Is NOT Overrated by Drs. Ryan and Julie Haack. This is only funny to us, most likely, but that’s the point. What makes you and your spouse laugh without fail? We love watching Modern Family and Parks and Rec, too. Always funny to us. What are your shows?

So, think about it: what always makes the two of you laugh? A friend of mine said, “Farting!” Perfect. I guarantee you’ll laugh just answering the question.

What do we always like to do together? One of the things I thought of while answering this question is not something we do very often, but we always love when we get to. Not that, though it’s a good answer. We’re big Milwaukee Brewers fans and we’re lucky to have one of the best radio broadcasters in the history of the game. Whenever the two of us get to listen to Bob Uecker call a game, we’re happy. It’s comforting and fun and hilarious and makes for a relaxing car-ride for sure. We also love to go to Brewer games together and tailgate. We love to go to movies together. We’re huge documentary fans, too, and are always on the lookout for good ones.

What about you? What kinds of things do you and your spouse like to do together? Maybe you like to camp or hike or bike or run or sing together or perform on stage together or paint or build things or volunteer…seriously, the list could go on forever. What I love about this question is remembering all the fun times you’ve had together already, while simultaneously looking forward to doing even more fun things together!

While these two questions may not fix a broken relationship, they certainly can inject some much needed life into one that’s stagnant. So stop being roommates and remember what makes you an awesome couple.

Then fart in the movie theater and laugh about it together.

I LOVE to hear what makes other people laugh! Share what makes you and your spouse laugh every time and some things you like to do together!

Last weekend nearly 3,000 people descended on the Schnitzer Theater in Portland for the World Domination Summit…and I was one of them. We spent the weekend listening to incredible speakers and getting to know each other in an effort to harness our creativity, explore entrepreneurship and live a meaningful life that changes the world for the better.

Rather than give you a full play-by-play (awesome speaker recaps by Scott Berkun here), I’m going to share a few stories that illustrate how the weekend affected me.

It was my first time in Portland, so I had a few places I wanted to visit for sure. Thursday I hit Voodoo Doughnut and Stumptown Coffee and then walked over to Powell’s. Each place lived up to the hype!

voodoo doughnut

Of course I did this because, well, it’s kind of what I do.

In the afternoon I decided to brave the bus system and go to the Oregon Public House, a non-profit bar in Portland. When it comes to public transportation, I’m a total disaster, so this was a huge risk. On the way there I sat next to an older lady who said, “I see you have an arm like me.” She was missing her left arm, too, and was wearing a hook prosthetic. We talked for a while about how she grew-up in California and was constantly told she couldn’t do things. In fact, she wasn’t allowed to participate in gym or cooking class or typing. “I did it all anyway,” she told me. Her story was fascinating and I appreciated her candor. When I got to the OPH, I had a lovely conversation with the bartender, whose younger brother is a little person. I tried to be as useful as possible, sharing my experiences as a person with obvious physical differences. I left thinking, “Yep…I was supposed to brave the bus system.”

Continue Reading…

Maybe twice a month I’ll get this response while chatting with someone online or at work:

“Dude…I just remembered that you’re typing with one hand. How do you type so fast?!”

It’s true, I type like a cheetah. Well, not like a cheetah, but as fast as one. I mean, as fast as one runs. ANYWAY, YOU GET WHAT I’M TRYING TO SAY.

The fact of the matter is that I’m able to type quickly because I’ve had nearly thirty years of practice. I remember being the only kid in my school to learn Logo (a computer language) and then I taught it to my classmates. From time to time I stayed in from recess and tried to find Carmen Sandiego or survive the Oregon Trail.

So, how did I develop my technique? I just did. I remember taking a keyboarding class in sixth grade and we all had to put those covers over our keyboards so we could memorize “home row.” They tried to get me to develop my own “home row,” and I wasn’t having it. I convinced them to let me uncover my keyboard and learn the most efficient way for me to type. I’d love to give the instructor credit for allowing me to do this, but…I probably gave them no choice in the matter. I’ve also never used anything other than a standard keyboard. I know different types of keyboards and adaptations are out there, but the way I figured it, learning on a standard keyboard put me at an advantage because then I could type on any computer anywhere I went.

Over the years I’ve had several keyboard-heavy jobs. At least two data entry job that I remember and over a decade in customer service which is almost exclusively computer driven. Over the last eight years I bet I’ve averaged typing nearly eight hours a day. And in all that time, I’ve never had finger or wrist issues. That said, I’ve been very careful if I notice a twinge or something and I stretch quite often. I can only remember one time ever having to tell my boss that I needed to rest my hand for a bit and that was because I got scared. Otherwise, it’s been smooth one-handed sailing… Hmm, sailing. I’ve never tried that.

Anywho, here’s a quick video of me typing with one hand. It’s not really an instructional video; more of just a snapshot of how I do it. I hope you like the little story I type!

Maysoon Zayid has been all over the internet lately.

Whether it’s Upworthy or The Huffington Post, Maysoon’s TED Talk, which has already inspired millions, is making the rounds.

As it should be.

maysoon zayid ted talk

Recently, I had the good fortune of speaking with Maysoon and I’m so proud to share our discussion with you!

Our discussion runs the gamut, from our experience growing-up “different” to the struggle for “disabled” actors in Hollywood and what can be done to change the landscape, to Maysoon’s work with children in Palestine and her adoration for Michael J. Fox on The Good Wife.

I hope you enjoy this fascinating interview with an amazing woman!

And if I may be so bold, I’d love for you to subscribe on iTunes and leave a 5-star review if you like the podcast, too.

(Also, toward the end the sound was getting a little wonky…sorry about that!)

Visit and Maysoon’s Kids and follow her on Twitter at @maysoonzayid!

Leave a comment about your favorite part in the comments below!

I often see parents posting about that dreaded moment. That moment when her child notices that there’s something different about her…and she hates it.

How are we to react in that moment?

Giving parenting advice is tricky. There’s no one “right way” to parent and I get that, so these are just my thoughts; take them with a grain of salt. For one, you’ll never hear me tell anybody how they should or shouldn’t think or feel.  Especially parents.  If your child’s newfound discovery and reaction makes you feel sad or guilty or angry and confused, I get it.  Those are reasonable feelings to have.  I’d like to be an encouragement to you, though.

I can only speak for myself, but I know many other limb-different adults who would agree…if I ever got angry or sad about my arm at an early age, I have no recollection of it.  None.

When our children are small, we help to shape how they think.  I remember when my kids were little, if they fell, I’d cheer.  They’d peer up at me with a look of surprise on their face, like, “Wait…I think I’m hurt.  Shouldn’t you be freaking out?”  And there I’d be, clapping and yelling, “Yay!  That was awesome!”  Then they’d pop up and carry on.  I’m sure you’ve experienced what happens when you gasp and cover your mouth and shout, “OH NO!”  The kid sees YOU freaking out, so THEY freak out.  I’m not a therapist, but I think it’s the same with this situation.  Your little one gets angry and sad about his hand and if you indicate to them that, yes, it IS a raw deal, they’ll carry that with them.  On the other hand, so to speak, if you allow them to feel what they’re feeling, but encourage them to view it as something positive, I believe that can shape their perspective, too.

Continue Reading…

Earlier today I was on a nationally syndicated sports radio show.

All because I have one hand.

See, I was listening to Jay Mohr Sports and they were talking about a story wherein a zoo is no longer feeding bananas to monkeys because they say the bananas have too much sugar and calories.  Sports!  Jay was saying how he’s never gone to a zoo and seen fat monkeys just laying around holding their bellies, so, I sent this tweet:


Apparently, after I left my car to return to work, Jay read my tweet.  Brad tweeted at me that Jay wanted to know if I really had one hand and that I should call in.  I had a little time left on my lunch, so I did.  And this happened:


So, 4 million listeners heard that.  AND I’m getting a gift card!  Sweet.  A couple things stuck out to me after having listened to this.  First, even don’t know what I meant when I said, “You know how that goes.”  It was the most mundane accident ever.  The part I loved, though, was when Jay tried to ask me about my arm.  The dude is a comedian…I don’t think I’ve ever heard him be so careful about his word choice before in my life.  I was happy to jump in and help diffuse the situation.

I also thought his reaction to my story was interesting.  Like, I only have one arm and I broke the small one…what a disaster!  When, in fact, it would have been worse if I had broken the other one!  He essentially played the Hand Card for me, too!  Classic.

In retrospect, I wish I had said something more profound, but it was spur of the moment and I just went with the flow.  It was cool to be a part of the show and to expose Jay’s audience to Living One-Handed.  I’ve already had several people read one of my most challenging posts and respond positively, which is awesome.

In the big scheme of things, the experience today wasn’t life-altering or anything, but it was a lot of fun.

And next time I’ll talk about something more inspiring.

Like the Packers.

Sometimes I play the hand card.

For instance, if I’m lying on the couch watching football and my wife asks me to help with something, I might mumble, “Sorry, I only have one hand.”

Or if a friend asks if I can drive them to the airport I might look at them, point at my arm, then say, “Can’t.”

Basically, if you ask me to do something I don’t want to do…sorry, one hand.

Hopefully it’s obvious to you that in these instances I’m joking.  It’s a cheap joke, for sure, and it gets old (based on the looks and sighs I get from my wife), but it’s still funny to me.  And sometimes it even results in unexpected benefits!  One time at work, for example, I moved desks to where there was a much larger monitor than nearly everyone else had.  My supervisor came by and said she’d need to swap it out for a regular one because they only had so many of them.  I begged and pleaded with her to let me keep it, but she was steadfast.  That’s when I jokingly pulled out the hand card.  “Listen, Michelle,” I said, feigning seriousness.  “I’ve been here a long time and you know I don’t ask for much.  But, c’mon…I have one hand.  Let me keep the monitor.”  “Oh, for crying out loud…just keep it, ya weirdo,” she said.

And I did.

Because THAT is how to successfully play the card.  Throw it out there as a joke and see what happens.

You might be thinking, “Ryan, that’s not really fair.  You can’t ask to be treated the same as everyone else and then play the hand card to get out of things.”  Now, if I actually used it to get out of things, I’d totally agree with you.  The fact that I’m joking 99.9% of the time means I can do it whenever I want because…I have one hand.  See what I did there?

Now, not to get too serious, but, I want to be clear:  I’m not talking about the very real challenges minorities face on a daily basis.  And yes, I’m including amputees as minorities because we are in the minority.  We get stared at, excluded, and made fun of, too.  Though the oppression experienced by amputees is different and usually less overt than others encounter, it has and still does exist.  This is another post in and of itself, methinks.

In reality, I never use my hand as an excuse.  Never would.  That’s why the joke is funny.  It’s absurd.  Not that I needed to explain that to you.  Nevertheless, the next time you’re holding 37 bags of groceries in both hands and you ask if I can get the door…

One hand.