Nature photography, political rants, and Martyman laughs from the ten-time award-winning author of "Cool Creatures, Hot Planet," "Endangered Edens," and the "Time Is Irreverent" series.

To kill a vacuum cleaner

I never write about or endorse products (except my new book, Endangered Edens, which is great and everyone should buy right now), but I have to tell you how excited I am about my new vacuum cleaner. Yes, I may be an outdoor adventurer, who has canoed to the Arctic Ocean, swam with piranhas, and survived a hippo attack, but at home, I’m a nontraditional, domestic kind of guy. Not only do I do the nightly dishes, but I also do the vacuuming.

My wife, Deb, previously did the vacuuming, so when I took it over, I was stuck using her Dyson upright vacuum. I know many people love Dysons, but I hate them. They’re horrible on stairs; difficult under tables; and the main hose and beater brush often secretly disengage—forcing me to redo all my work after I discover their scheme.

I have frequently plotted against the Dyson—wondering if I could mortally wound it if it “accidently” tipped over, tumbled down the stairs, and fell into a tub of acid. But since it’s an expensive machine, in mint condition, and Deb loves it, verbal abuse is all I’ve ever given the Dyson.

Then I remembered the Christmas check we get from my wife’s parents each year. Normally, Deb gets to decide what to do with the money (often buying some family item, that’s really a girl thing, that I have no interest in), but since we share everything equally, I laid claim to this year’s gift and ordered a manly, red, Electrolux canister vacuum.

The Electrolux arrived last night, and I quickly assembled it (without reading the instructions, of course!). Finally, I have a vacuum that will do what I want it to do. It even has adjustable suction: “suck a little,” “suck a lot,” and “you didn’t want that finish on your hardwood floor anymore, did you?”

I can’t wait to give the Electrolux a thorough test drive this weekend. What an adventure it will be! Its ninety-minute mission: to explore strange new crevasses, to seek out under heavy coffee tables and between desks, to boldly go where no vacuum—at least a Dyson—has gone before!

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