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November 1, 2014
7:08am EDT

Rated: 18+ | Book | Comedy | #1805328
I have made the mistakes so you won't have to.
  Real world advice for the reality-challenged.

Always looking forward to what's around the next bend.

Previous ... 2 3 4 5 -6- 7 8 9 10 11 ... Next
January 4, 2014 at 11:04am
January 4, 2014 at 11:04am
Don't do this: Kitchen explosions are to be avoided
I have been trying to whip up some enthusiasm and optimism for the upcoming year but falling short so far. I may have to fall back on some tried and true activities to cheer up. These will require the wholesale abandonment of various strictures and requirements I have accumulated over the years, but it wouldn’t be the first time. These are things I haven’t tried for years so it’s about time.

The first, and my favorite for its simplicity, is making nitrous oxide. This is a very simple process and requires no more then a few rudimentary lab supplies. All it requires is ammonium nitrate. Don’t go buy it at the farm supply store, it must be contaminant-free. The downside is that ammonium nitrate is touchy. Heat it to any more than 240-degrees and it could detonate. Don’t do this. If you think your spouse was upset when you spilled Benedict’s reagent on the counter, wait until they come home and find out there has been a rather energetic explosion in the kitchen. Research is the key to marital harmony, so read up first. Also, a dry powder fire extinguisher will make one hell of a mess. Use foam.

The next on my list are “things that go boom” (but not in the kitchen). There are relatively safe ways to accomplish this without the use of dangerous materials. It can be done with hazardous materials, which are different. I have never constructed an acetylene noise canon, but the pages of devotees on the web do not have any memorials for members whose canons exploded, so I think it is within my reach. I could build a potato gun, but past experience with projectiles reveals them to be less fun than they sound.

Lastly, I could cast about for something potentially useful such as adapting a shop dust collector to a built-in vacuum system for the first floor, or maybe devising a lighting system by which one might actually be able to see on the second floor. These fall somewhat below sniff and boom, as options one and two might be termed.

This has been a good exercise. I feel energized and invigorated. I swore off black powder decades ago, but I am starting to feel confident enough to take it up again. Talk about flash and boom, it just doesn’t get any better. I had better get started though. These ideas represent a deteriorating mental condition and if goes too far, I will blow up the kitchen. Don’t do this.

January 3, 2014 at 11:08am
January 3, 2014 at 11:08am
Don't Do This: Do not let your ideas escape
I seem to be at a loss for words this morning. That doesn’t happen often. They may not be in a coherent order or be well organized, but at least there are plenty of them. And, there are no expectations that what I write will be very well written, or even understandable, given my continually fluctuating mental state. One would think that to be liberating, at least as far as writing goes, but this morning my thoughts are so distant that I am unable to locate them at all. My ideas have taken flight and left me behind, the traitorous wretches.

I had a thought that I might organize an escape, perhaps to locate my thoughts, and take my truck out test run. Then I fell down. I don’t know what happened, I walked up the stairs and collapsed. The guard was doubled. Now an escape will be impossible. I have been leafing through Don’t Do This for a possible strategy, but the best I can come up with is “Make a break”. Not advisable in this case.

We have two grandchildren with us for three days. That is usually finger nails on the blackboard, but in my current condition it is nails in the brain. Clearly, something must be done.

Here are my resources:

-My buddy down the road. He can bust me out on some pretense and we can go eat and drink until I fall over again. Doing that in public is inadvisable in the extreme, but the worst that could happen is another stint in the hospital. As things are right now, I would accept incarceration in order to avoid one more ‘tweens’ program, IV and all.

-My wife has strategically parked her car behind my truck making escape by truck impossible. It hasn’t, however, made escape by her car impossible. The ramifications would be dire and extreme, but really, have you seen any of those puerile shows? I am relegated to my chair as one after another plays like an adolescent version of Clockwork Orange. I swear to God, if I had any LSD, I would take it.

-Unconsciousness. This has been my defense up to now. Unfortunately, there is a limit to how much medication one can take before they fall down and the guard gets doubled.

Here are my roadblocks:

-My recovery from my recent unpleasantness is taking far longer than it should. I am told it will take some time before I fully recover. A cursory glance at the calendar reveals that ‘some time’ has elapsed. I feel I should now be allowed to resume my normal activities. I probably need to avoid falling down in order to press that point.

-Everyone from my buddy to my family to my friend in town have unrealistically restrictive views as to what I am capable of. Falling down results in a bump and a scratch or two. Young person’s television programming will cause long-term and irreputable harm to what meager mental resources I have left. If I go, I had better damn well locate my missing thoughts because I am going to need them when I am apprehended.

It is a conundrum, to be sure. Devoid of ideas, choices ranging from bad to worse, my wife’s impossible go-cart of a car as my only means of escape, there will be no dodging the bullets that will fly when I am returned home to further my nails-in-brain torture. One thing is for certain. The year 2014 can only improve over time. Hopefully with some semblance of a brain still remaining. Or, hopefully not. It depends on how many of those shows I am required to watch.
January 2, 2014 at 10:34am
January 2, 2014 at 10:34am
Don't do this: Don't lose Batman's phone number

At the time I became ill a week and a half ago, this guitar had about twenty minutes of work required before I could put strings on it. Stringing up a guitar for the first time is a suspenseful moment. There are any number of defects that can become apparent once the stress of the strings is added, many of which are fatal.

This guitar was a real (insert obscenity) to build. Glue wouldn’t stick to the redwood because the fibers would simply tear off. Plus, I was trying to build it “right”, which I never do. This was the first standard flat top I have built, because frankly, they are boring. But, since it was standard, I followed my construction guide as closely as possible. I am not capable of following the directions for assembling a file cabinet, you can imagine how the work proceeded.

My time in the hospital was annoying for a number of reasons. When the “end of life” counselor came in to find out how far I wanted them to go with the resuscitation efforts, I became concerned. I told her that, hell yes I wanted heroic measures! I wanted the Batman of heroic measures! I wanted the 440 volt paddles with a supercharger. I have been nearly brain dead for years and I didn’t want that used an a excuse to knock off work early.

I had many of the emotions one would expect. One of them was disappointment that I had come twenty minutes shy of putting strings on that (insert obscenity) guitar. Yesterday I accomplished the feat. I had an urge to do a Garth Brooks on the (insert obscenity) thing and wrap it around a tree, but decided someone would like it as a present so I resisted.

That is by far the most annoying guitar I have ever built, including the one that the body split in half mid-way into the project. But it wasn’t entirely without benefit. These are things I already knew, but for some insane reason decided were not going to be a factor this time. I credit this partly to the reaction to the offending medication which had been ramping up for the past month.

-Do not attempt to do anything the “right” way. I have no aptitude for it. The five guitars I built with no forethought came out much better.

-The reason people don’t build guitars the way I do with the materials I use is that they are not insane. Quit fighting it.

-Detailed instructions are not applicable in my dimension. The proper sequence for building a guitar in my dimension is “Do it all t once, have a beer”.

The guitar is hanging safely on the wall, out of sight and mind. Eventually my annoyance will fade. Then I fully expect a brace with pop off and the neck will twist. Then a reenactment of Jimi Hendricks’ performance at the Monterey Pop Festival will ensue. I can guarantee my guitar will burn better that his. Napthalene, Benzene, Acetone, oh yes Jimi, this is how you burn a (insert obscenity) guitar!
January 1, 2014 at 9:50am
January 1, 2014 at 9:50am
Don't do this: Do not set your graphene down.
I like writing on New Year’s day. It is a great opportunity to be as silly as one wants in their writing. There is no downside for making ridiculous predictions, unless you have made a bet on one, in which case I ask, “What the hell is wrong with you?” There is a good deal of consensus that the future does not exist. And you are betting on it? Reassess your medication plan.

With the understanding that the future does not exists, here are my predications about it:

-Material science will continue developing Graphene, a one-atom thick sheet of carbon atoms. Then they will lose it. A researcher will shout, “I told you we should have made it a billion billion atoms thick! Then we could have rolled it up and put a rubber band around it.” On the plus side, it is the strongest material ever made, so there is the possibility one might trip over it and find it that way.

-Every single dire warning about climate change will turn out to have been ridiculously optimistic. That’s good. People need to remain optimistic, even as their optimist glass half full of water is evaporating as they watch.

-I will make great strides in personal health and safety by no longer conducting field tests in agility and balance. Those have turned out to have been ridiculously optimistic as well. I am only going to hike where sane people hike. It is hard to simulate what sane people think, but I never see anyone hiking where I hike, so I have to assume that is not it. I will search every inch of the black berry and poison oak-infested clear cuts until I find one. In 2014, I am going to locate a sane person on the west slope of Price Peak clinging desperately to a poison oak vine praying it doesn’t break before a toe hold can be dug. I will have some good pointers for them.

-In 2014 I will become invisible at least once and hopefully not forget where I am.

-In 2014, I will not do anything bizarre, inadvisable, illegal, or truly weird during a blackout. That is going to be a tough one. If you think forgetting the past is bad, try forgetting the present.

-I will confess my complete lunacy and near-complete idiocy to my wife as soon as it becomes apparent. I suppose it will have to be a matter of degree, so I need to develop some metrics such as blood loss, failure to remain conscious, consecutive blackout days, etc. There is no use getting her needlessly upset, so until I have those protocols I will follow the guidelines in Don’t Do This.

The well known adage that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it is a dandy saying, but if you can’t remember the past, how will you know if you are repeating it? The safest route and best bet is to assume that I am repeating every single thing I do because I can’t remember anything past last week. Conversely, everything I do now will be forgotten and repeated in the future. That is more than enough justification to do fun things now so that they will be done again (although not remembered).

There are my 2014 predictions in a nutshell. Remember, keep Don’t Do This close at hand because you never know which part of the past you are repeating. Drink a lot of beer. That is worth repeating.
December 31, 2013 at 8:46am
December 31, 2013 at 8:46am
Don't do this: An annoyed spouse will cause a bad year
This time of year one sees a lot of retrospectives about the people and events of the last year. I like those. They are almost entirely news to me. I will have either forgotten they happened this year, or more likely, forgotten they happened at all.

My wife has largely stopped being impatient with me over it. This year, I will shout, ”Ray Dolby died!?” (yes) “When?” (last year). “Fredrick Sanger died!?” and so on. There is something to be said for remembering the year as it happens because getting it all at once is a shock.

Sometimes I try to put together a retrospective of my own life. My wife hates that because she is the one who has to actually do it. This year, she won’t get ten seconds into it before I am shouting, “I got pneumonia AGAIN!?”, and “Kenney died?” My wife only makes it to about June and then I am on my own.

The things I remember may or may not have happened. I am quite sure that some of the most memorable moments were psychotic events. I remember I saw a skunk the size of a Labrador retriever. That was memorable. Thank God it was a hallucination. I remember going to my doctor’s office and having all four doctors called in to have a look. They asked me how I had gotten there and I replied that I had driven, at which they shot each other a look. ‘Wrong answer’, I thought, ‘Note in Don’t Do This.’ Aside from a few things like that, everything I remember might have happened last year, five years ago, or even not at all. My wife has very little patience with verifying the reality of things that happened only in my own head.

Left to my own devices, I will construct a pretty rosy history. It will include things such as, “I almost died twice, but didn’t, so things could be worse.” I remember hiking on sunny days, getting lost on a blistering hot day (don’t do this), camping, and a lot of good times with the family (except perhaps the funeral). Every bit of it could have happened five years ago.

My wife and I always have the same New Year’s resolution. We vow to not be hung over on New Year’s Day. This following a near-death experience hangover some thirty years ago. We have kept to it faithfully. Not going out on New Year’s eve has helped.

Making resolutions is futile. Last year, I resolved to have no surgeries or ER visits. By the end of January, I had both. I ended the year with one surgery, three ER visits, and an ambulance ride, possibly a new record.

For this year’s retrospective, I am going to ask my wife to skip over those parts and try to cover the parts that were sunshine and fun watching the kids look for Easter eggs. Maybe I can talk her into making up a few because I won’t know anyway. Since it is a tradition, futile or not, here are my resolutions for 2014:

-I resolve to be less crazy, more healthy, and to not scare the living hell out of my friends and family.

-I resolve to not argue with invisible people. There is no worse waste of time.

-I resolve to hike where only sane people hike, boring as that is.

-And finally, I resolve to stay positive even when doctors shake their heads (I hate that). I will be a source of joy and light, albeit possibly not in this galaxy. At the end of the year, I will ask my wife to either exclude or include these items in the retrospective. Depending on how annoyed she is, it will have been a good year or a not so good year. I hope we will have had an Easter egg hunt.
December 30, 2013 at 10:02am
December 30, 2013 at 10:02am
Don't do this:Do not bleach your spouse unless necessary
It has been five days since I was released from the hospital after a no-joke reaction to a medication I had been taking. The 5-day stay may have been cut short if they had stopped the medication earlier. But, looking at it from their point of view, the only thing worse than a delirious patient running a very high fever is an unmedicated one. Though in truth, I feel I was performing at psychotic peak efficiency and stopping all the medications would have had little effect. I don’t blame them for not wanting to find out.

I discovered that after I began to recover, food became unappetizing. Aside from having no desire to eat, I perceived most food as being repugnant. I ate nothing but grapes for three days. I believed it was a result of my system going into a panic during the no-joke episodes and that it would straighten itself out after a while.

So far, I have expanded my diet to include yogurt. I would not eat at all except I am assured another system panic could result. As a precaution, I ate a bowl of tomato soup last night. It was awful. My wife assured me that the soup did not smell like bleach and watched as I ate. Given a moment, I would have poured it out and declared “All done!”, holding the empty bowl up as evidence.

What elevates this above a simple and temporary artifact of a jokeless hospital occurrence is the wild card of being on a medication plan which may be summated as “Wait for psychosis, then do something. Anything. Try sedation.”

All that aside, I feel I may have some usefulness as a rescue person detecting the faintest hints of tastes and odors for those who do not possess my new-found superpower. Not speaking here of insanity, which is an old superpower. Should there be a need, I can:

-Detect the faintest hint of bleach even if the bedding is washed three times to remove it. My wife washed one blanket with bleach. Now everything in the house smells of bleach. Things in the refrigerator, the remote control, every other piece of bedding we have, all carry a terrible stench (a description my wife objects to for some reason). If you can smell bleach but don’t know where it is coming from, I can find it for you even if it is in the ketchup.

-Serve as your personal food taster in order to assure your food is wholesome. We can save time if you would throw everything away except for strawberry yogurt and grapes.

-Determine air quality by identifying indoor pollutants such as bleach, broccoli, boiled eggs (don’t do this!), and any number of hand creams, shampoos, or (God forbid) nail polish.

I go to see my General Practitioner on Tuesday because all my doctors want to hear the story. Reactions such as I had are very rare with most people in that situation having the Good Sense to die. I will describe my taste, appetite, untapped superpower, medication plan deficiencies, why hospital beds should be secured to the floor, and espouse the virtues of strawberry yogurt and grapes. After listening attentively along with every other doctor that can fit into the examination room, because it is a very good story, my chart will be updated to read, “Patient progressing as expected.” And the problem is, they will be correct.
December 29, 2013 at 10:42am
December 29, 2013 at 10:42am
Don't do this:Avoid vicious armored hummingbird monsters
I have wanted a remote control helicopter for the longest time. I have been dropping overt hints for at least five years. I thought about buying one myself, but that is an extravagance I could not justify. This Christmas my wife bought me one. It is an excellent little device and I love it. It is a little hard to control but I am sure that will come with practice.

Our cat doesn’t know quite what to make of it. She may not know what it is, but she knows she wants to kill it. A few furtive attempts have not gone well. As a prey item, it has several odd qualities. First, it won’t die. Second, it is unpredictable in the extreme. And third, it is a “tough bird”, so to speak. It has the wings of a monstrous armored hummingbird and has no compunction against making direct attacks. These factors have elevated the weird bird to both hated and despised. Ahab the cat says the white whale must die.

Meanwhile, the novice operator is still mastering standing upright. My cognitive abilities have been sadly reduced and I have a reaction lag time that stretches back to over an hour ago. The operating principles are simple enough, but as of right now they significantly exceed my abilities. Fortunately, the thing is quite tough and has survived some rather spectacular control failures. There is an abort method whereby one simply turns off the controller and the helicopter drops like a rock. This has saved it from the roof twice.

One of my first goals is to simply bring the thing to hover five to ten feet off the ground. I was making another attempt from my test ground in the driveway while the cat kept a close eye from the deck. The helicopter rose and then quite unexpectedly hovered nicely. But, some whim of air current or cat hatred caused it to drift sideways. Then, it turned directly towards the deck and flew straight and level two feet above surface. It shot towards the cat in a feat of aerobatic control that I had yet to produce.

The cat sat up, clearly alarmed at the fierce armored creature’s attack. I found the wherewithal to turn off the controller and the device crashed no more than three feet from the cat. The cat executed a vertical leap of a magnitude only rarely matched on YouTube. She began running before she landed as if in a cartoon, and shot off in fear for her life.

The white whale must not simply die, it must be shredded and it’s remains spread across the yard. There is something chilling about watching a cat plotting. She observes from hidden places, and when the beast hits the ground, she charges in hopes of beating me to it. Oh, it is going to rain white whale before long. Or cat fur. My money is on fur.

I knew I really wanted a remote control helicopter, but I had been mistaken as to why. I can’t even fly it and it is the funniest thing I own. I am hoping to learn to control it well enough to avoid hurting the cat, but the cat obviously has something devious planned. It is only a matter of time before the whale gets pissed and attacks the Pequod, which it will assume is me. I hope I have the wherewithal to turn off the controller before it hits, because the cat is right, it is a monstrous armored hummingbird when on the attack.
December 28, 2013 at 9:53am
December 28, 2013 at 9:53am
Don't do this: Ask for help with your car, not IV meds
A brief recap of the events leading up to now:

I was becoming less well by the day. Blackouts, psychotic episodes, hallucinations, it was really starting to cut into my beer drinking. This was unacceptable, so I reluctantly went to my doctor to complain of my reduced access to the beer isle. He agreed that blackouts are very bad because God only knows what kind of beer one will discover when they open the refrigerator.

In light of my accomplishments, he promoted me from a diagnosis of bipolar II to bipolar I. He prescribed a medication that worked well. I began to feel better almost immediately, better than I had in years. The downside of the medication was that it sometimes tried to kill the patient, and sometimes with success.

It turned out that I could not tolerate the medication. I spent five days in the hospital with little for solace except for a wonderful IV port that was seemingly built for oblivion.

I returned to the doctor two days ago. He had been on vacation and had heard about none of this. He apologized for very nearly killing me. I told him it was a poor attempt anyway, having failed to work. In the end, we decided to return to the previous medication plan to see how things fell out. This was the same plan we had abandoned because of blackouts, psychotic episodes, hallucinations, and reduced access to the beer isle.

Obviously, this is not a good situation. The one thing we know for certain is that the med plan isn’t going to work. On the plus side, the next appointment won’t take as long because we already know what is going to happen.

I don’t have anything in Don’t Do This pertaining to preparing for psychosis. It is generally something that arrives unannounced. But, having this rare opportunity is a gift (albeit it a rather poor one). With that in mind, here are my first thoughts on the subject:

-Hallucinations are generally harmless, if a bit annoying. It is hearing voices that is troubling. Prepare a list of talking points ahead of time. I am real, you are not; I already know I am crazy, you are crazy for wanting to debate it; didn’t I see you in the mirror (hahahahaha). None of these will help, but it sure gets them stirred up.

-If you are driving (having stashed several sets of keys around) and realize you don’t know where you are, stop. Pull over first. Check that you are dressed. If you are, raise the hood and wait for a good samaritan to offer aid. Don’t be too specific about what kind of help you need. If you aren’t dressed, ask them to call 911 for you. They will presumably know where you are.

-It is already well known that you are a lunatic. Avoid becoming a raving one. Those aren’t appreciated.

This is just a start. I’m sure other things will occur to me later. I am sure a great number of things will occur to me later. I would say it is the dawn of a brave new world, except it is neither new nor brave. I guess I will be happy with the dawn of the same old world. Anything other than that will be trouble. I had better have some duplicate keys made. All I had were confiscated earlier. Chocolate! I have to stock up on chocolate. I had better make a list.
December 27, 2013 at 10:46am
December 27, 2013 at 10:46am
He was gulping down a blender of pork parts
I am feeling much improved after a full day home. Having started from mostly dead, as Billy Crystal says in The Princess Bride, not nearly dead is a great improvement.

One of my favorite accouterments of the experience is the IV. IVs’ have several important qualities. Aside from the mundane function of slowly dripping every medication in the cabinet into one’s system, they also present a nifty portal directly into the blood system.

Being mostly dead is a dismal and uncomfortable situation. It is not a time when one thinks of abusing drugs. However, it is a time when one may consider the nifty portal just millimeters from their blood system. None of the doctors or nurses in that situation feels it is abusive to pump a load of the most excellent painkillers into one’s vein. As I have said before, this works very well. The combination of the pain killers that worked well, and myself, which did not, left my speech even less lucid than normal (though not by much).

There was a very nice nurse who had the most beautiful black, black skin, sharp N. African ethic features, and an adorable accent. I could only speak haltingly. Anything longer than three words took several tries. After one session which involved difficult questions such as, “How are you feeling?”, she asked me, “Mr. Gordon, is this your normal manner of speech?”

Never had there been a time when I wished for the ability to speak more. It was the greatest straight line ever delivered. I wished I could have said, “?backward speaking I am, Why. Yes.” Even in my reduced state the responses flew by. But, alas. All I could manage was: “No”. To which I added, “Is it too early for pain medication?”

There was a café down the road run by an odd duck. She wanted to be clear about the gravy used on the biscuits and gravy. She used the term pork cream gravy. I nearly fell out of my chair the first time I read it. I told my wife that when I died, I wanted my name listed as Dave “Pork Cream” Gordon. When people got up to speak, they would be given the line, “How did Pork Cream die?” Or, “How did Pork Cream get his name?”

My final gift to my friends and family: the greatest straight line they will ever get. Although truthfully, I am glad they won’t be using it soon.
December 26, 2013 at 11:22am
December 26, 2013 at 11:22am
Don't Do This: For you , from you. Know the differnence
I have been in the hospital since the last blog entry, only coming home yesterday. I am too tired to write much, which is just as well because I am too tired to think anyway.

I was quite sick for a lot of the time. On the other hand, the rooms they give people who may possibly have deadly infectious diseases have lovely views.

For about a period of three days, my wife and daughter had to don a full-length gown with sleeves that came down over surgical gloves, and a face mask with a full face protector. I wore less, having 103.5 to 104.7 temperature for three days. After watching people come and go like that for a day, I asked the doctor if it wouldn’t be easier to dress me like and let everyone else stop. At first it struck me funny, reminding me of some movie such as Outbreak, but then it occurred to me that it was very much like that indeed and I was headed for a holding cell at the Center for Infectious Disease Control.

At the end of a tortuous sustained high fever, only hoping to become so obnoxious they would render me unconscious, and after enduring two spinal taps, it was decided the cause of the situation was a reaction to the almost-never-fatal bipolar medication I had been taking. Evidently the symptoms and close enough to Bacterial Meningitis (which are a hoot, BTW), to cause the confusion.

I have not even begun to sort out all of the Don’t Do This items. There most certainly will be one regarding what should be drank from while in delirium (don’t trust that was has been left there is FOR you instead of FROM you). I would like to cover the interesting differences between psychotic hallucination and delirium hallucination. Delirium hallucinations are oddly much more agreeable but can be trusted even less.

I have an appointment with my doctor this morning. I am going to ask if he has anything on the slightly less lethal side this time. The last one scared the living hell out my family. Don’t Do This.

December 20, 2013 at 7:56pm
December 20, 2013 at 7:56pm
Don't do this:Dr exams must be performed when vertical
This is day six of having become interesting to doctors. Around day two or three, I changed my long standing stricture concerning that saying. A little might be better than indifference, for sure. I now rescind it and replace it with, “Avoid becoming interesting to doctors”.

Living a scant fifteen miles from town, a trip to town has become second nature. Sometimes we go two or even thee times a day, depending on how wearisome I have become. My wife is on her third trip today. The first trip was in response to a blood test yesterday. All negative of course. That is what is so darn interesting to them. I go in on Monday for another one. They just can’t get enough.

But, today they declared that I had the flu. That is great news. The other things it could have been were much worse. Hopefully things will hold solid for the weekend and I will finally lose their attention.

All of the following seem like common sense, but they are crucial to becoming common place in the eyes of your doctor.

-Do not fall. The doctor is going to want you get up onto the examination table and stay there. If you spouse is with you, they will cry out in alarm. If your buddy is there, he will laugh. Either response is too interesting. Suggest an exam performed closer to ground.

-Remember who the doctor is, who you are, and who everybody else is in the room (especially you spouse!). This may sound easy, but if you have had 103-degree fever for five days, it might not be so easy.

-This is a time when you should let your spouse contradict you. She is probably recounting something much closer to reality than what you had in mind.

December 18, 2013 at 10:39am
December 18, 2013 at 10:39am
Don't do this: The answer is always "Yes".
After I wrote the previous entry I began to deteriorate until finally I had a temperature of 103 degrees and couldn’t walk without help. I called the doctor and he agreed that a person should be able to walk. He directed us to the emergency room.

I am an old hand at emergency rooms. I have been in the ER every year for the last fifteen except for one. I thought I might improve that record to two, but fell just short. The thing about emergency rooms is that the doctors and nurses are unreasonable. I can sometimes persuade my doctor to do this or that, but in the ER, it is “their way or the highway”. Since I couldn’t walk, my options were limited.

I am quite familiar with the script. A nurse comes in and apologizes for the extreme agony putting in the IV will cause. I have had probably thirty IVs, they are not high on the agony scale. Another nurse comes in and apologizes for the terrible discomfort the blood draw is going to cause. Again, barely a bump on the discomfort scale. Then the doctor comes in and we get down to business. Then we wait three hours.

At the end of the night, the doctor confessed that he did not know what was causing the fever and chills. He sent some samples to be cultured in hopes of growing something interesting. I think his interest was piqued because he instructed me to go back to the ER if things got worse, thus depriving the student doctor mentioned below of the fun.

I was told that my doctor would call if the tests revealed I was actually ill. At this point, I would prefer it because I am not accustomed to getting the answer, “I don’t know” from doctors.

There were a couple of things of note that have relevance to Don’t Do This. I was really quite miserable and the situation did nothing to improve my cognition. The doctor asked me if I wanted pain medication and I said probably not. The ER is where the medical profession keeps the good stuff. It is administered through the IV directly into your blood stream. It works very well. The answer to that question is always yes. Fortunately, my wife is well schooled in ER protocols and she said that I did. Nice save.

Secondly, if one can ordinarily walk, but then finds they cannot, they should consider calling the doctor. There is a strong possibility something is wrong (even though in my case there was not). If your ordinarily addled mind has deteriorated even further during the process, assent to whatever suggestions your spouse forwards. If you don’t, there is the possibility they might quit helping you walk, and crawling to the kitchen is a laborious task under those circumstances. Don’t do this.
December 17, 2013 at 9:22pm
December 17, 2013 at 9:22pm
Don't do this: Frightening the students is bad form
Back in November I began taking a not-always-fatal Bipolar medication. I was given a list of symptoms which would indicate it might be becoming less than not-always-fatal. One of them was fever and chills. Yesterday I began suffering fever and chills. I went to the doctor today to report my achievement is lessening the medication from not-always-fatal to sometimes-fatal.

I went to see my GP because my big-time doctor is too busy to tend to things such as this. I stopped by his office and had them send him a note, which was also on the instructions. Knowing full well that there was no one in the office who would understand the situation, I rambled on in a semi-conscious state because for one, it was all I could manage, and two, getting a semi-coherent note from me would tell him everything he needed to know.

I was quite ill when they called me in to the GP’s office. I don’t handle fevers well. When the nurse was satisfied that I had a pulse, he told me that the doctor’s student would be in to see me. Some people don’t like to be seen by a student. I love it. I present the widest possible range of maladies all wrapped up in an incoherent lunatic. I think the doctor sent her in on purpose.

I have advised against becoming interesting to doctors. However, they can a flighty lot at times so piquing their interest is not all bad. The interest of the young student was definitely piqued. I had no symptoms other than a fever, which perplexed her. She left and was gone for some time. Come to find out, they had walked across the parking lot to see my world-class doctor. He set them straight on the potentially sometimes-fatal nature of the situation. They came in and offered a few theories and sent me off to the lab with strict instructions to not let my phone get out of sight because they would be calling when they got the results.

I drove home in an even more deplorable state than usual. I climbed into bed and the doctor called twenty minutes later. It was good news and bad news. The good news was that my white blood cell count was normal, which is great because I am quite fond of them. The bad news, in the students exacts words to me over the phone, is that they had no idea why I had a fever.

Having become quite interesting to the young doctor, I can imagine she is looking for to the next appointment. If I have this fever long enough, I will begin to hallucinate. That should be fun. Maybe I will ask her if she knows who that guy is standing behind my shoulder. No one seems to. Some days you get cute little kids with the sniffles. Other days you get complete lunatic with no discernible symptoms other than a fever. I know she likes me best.
December 15, 2013 at 11:43am
December 15, 2013 at 11:43am
Don't do this: Do not start with the quadratic form

I spent all day yesterday hunched over the workbench filing minute pieces of purple heart, mother of pearl, ebony, and binding material into tiny strips for placing them into the back of the guitar I am building. I had ripped out the first inlay out disgust. This was try number two. I am terrible at it. I don’t have steady hands (in spades), I don’t have the right tools, and I am always compromised due to my efforts to address the stifling boredom of the job.

I have been considering the Golden Ratio lately. The inlay is patterned after it. It is a pervasive ratio found in nature from the structure of galaxies to the structure of the DNA molecule. Here is a brief look:

I have a tattoo of Plank’s Constant on my left shoulder. I thought it would be a good conversation starter. I reasoned that although not many would know what it was, those that did would be interested and we could debate the fallacies of the Standard Model. Imagine my shock and surprise when almost no one knew what it was! Quantum physics should be taught in middle school. Come on, it’s not that hard.

So, I am getting a tattoo of the Golden Ratio on my right forearm. I want to incorporate the quadratic form, which is quite simple, maybe a Fibonocci series, the Greek symbol Phi, and a flower. Then at least people will recognize the flower.

Any child that can add two numbers can produce a Fibonocci series. Our grand daughter who has been staying with me thought it was fun. They have been learning patterns and that is a great one. She also liked the word Fibonocci. She said it sounded like something to eat. I tried showing her how to construct a base-8 series, but alternative numbering systems must come next year.

My wife (as well as everyone else) thought getting a tattoo of Plank’s constant was quite strange. I did too, but I didn’t fully realize how strange. The only two people who ever knew what it was were two Atomic Science students, and they were horrified. That is understandable. The constant is a very, very, VERY small number, and with it they deduce the output of Quasars. Image that on a final exam.

I am done with abject strangeness. I am going for something much more intuitive, such as, “Ooo, pretty flower. What are all those numbers?” Then, if it seems likely the person can add, I will explain the relationship of the flower to the Fibonocci series depicted beside it. If they are still sticking with it, we can touch on the quadratic form, which as I said, is really quite simple. For now though, I will have to be satisfied with people asking why the inlay on the back of the guitar is different lengths. I really hope they do.
December 13, 2013 at 11:34am
December 13, 2013 at 11:34am
Don't do this: Avoid melon ball episodes
I’m feeling a little off today. A little grumpy. I’m frustrated with “junk drawer creep”, which is the process by which every drawer in the kitchen and living room eventually become junk drawers. It sounds mild enough, but I have to tread lightly or I will be declared as having an “episode”. Episodes are very troubling, don’t do this.

Even though I knew that the (expletive deleted) jar lid was in a specific junk drawer, I couldn’t put my hands on it when it was demanded and so was declared an unorganized and otherwise defective housekeeper, which is true. That was some time ago. This morning, while not having an “episode”, I found the (expletive deleted) jar lid. Then I neglected to delete an expletive. Undeleted expletives are a hallmark of an “episode”. It did not go unnoticed by my wife.

It is imperative I cheer up by 6:00 tonight. If I am not the very picture of joviality when my wife gets home from work, I will face a very uncomfortably level of scrutiny all weekend long because, as I mentioned, episodes are very troubling. I face a couple of challenges.

I have to go to town today. It is possible it will improve my mood. I will have lunch with a friend whose life is so exponentially worse than mine that I don’t complain to her. She says I cheer her up and that cheers me up as well. I am going to the music store, that is always a high point of a trip to town.

I may go Christmas shopping for my wife. The most expensive lingerie shop in three counties is across the street from the music store. There is an import store not far away that specialized in things with no useful function. My wife loves those. If I get home and my mood has not improved, it could mean one of three things:

1 – Nothing. I am just in a bad mood. I still need to cheer up so dietary supplements may be required.

2 – Junk Drawer Frustration. It would certainly make me feel better to throw away everything in the drawer except for the (expletive deleted) jar lid, but only until about 6:05 tonight when my wife discovers what I have done. The missing pasta roller we never have used, the four tea balls, the two implements for making melon balls, the tiny tongs, the loose flex straws and skewers, the full size hammer and mallet, and the miscellanea too random to classify that I threw away will all have been crucial to my wife’s happiness. Dietary supplements are practically a requirement for “episodes” that damage my wife’s happiness, and well before 6:05 tonight.

3 – I may be actually having an “episode”. I won’t really know until I get into a store and fail to delete expletives. If I am accused of this at 6:06 tonight, there will be no defense. “No, I’m not” won’t work. I will have much bigger problems than a few missing tea balls if that is the case. If I am not careful, pleasant people in scrubs will be administering the dietary supplements.

Fortunately, we have two other junk drawers in the kitchen. I can replace most of the missing items from those. Plus, I know what to get my wife for Christmas. I will get her a pasta roller, a tea ball, an implement for making melon balls, and tiny tongs. I feel better already.
December 12, 2013 at 12:11pm
December 12, 2013 at 12:11pm
Don't do this: Do not forget your name. Apollo will ask
That evil entity which creeps in at night and beats me with a stick has struck once again. It would have been great to know in advance that this was going to happen because I could have gotten roaring drunk and not felt any worse than I do now. But, I have a wide range of balms, salves, tinctures, ointments, herbs, effusions, and tonics to aid in my recovery.

If this happens to you, I am afraid I do not have much useful advice on this subject. I am well equipped to deal with periodic demonistic attacks but it is unlikely that most people have the materials that are at my disposal. If you are so equipped, congratulations. Years of surgeries and psychotic episodes have rewarded you with the means of fighting off imaginary beasts armed with sticks, which are the worst kind.

Unfortunately, the difference between feeling better or not is one of planes. If I am to feel better, I will be on the horizontal plane. As I have things I want to do today, I am required to remain vertical. In truth, I have spent so much time in a horizontal position over the years that I have become tired of it. At this point, a sound beating is preferable to being insensate. I prefer to save that for times when I am told I am acting erratically or have become otherwise annoying.

On my list of things to do that require being on a vertical plane is to reline the kitchen drawers and clean a bathroom. These require rudimentary motor skills but not much in terms of brain activity. I am never far from minimal brain activity anyway, so reducing it is my goal for today. I am going to cut the drawer liners before I embark on a brain activity suppression campaign since it requires using scissors. There are many things that should not be done with scissors besides run with them. Using them with suppressed brain activity is one of them.

I am very close to finishing the guitar I have been building. It is imperative I stay out of the shop because there are a great number of things down there that should not be done with minimal brain activity. However, as disappointing as it is, I know myself and I will surely be down there operating power tools at some point. I can’t even blame it on a pseudo-demon.

I plan to avoid inducing oscillations in the vertical plane today. There is nothing worse than trying to clean a toilet while “true vertical” keeps shifting. That is one of the things that make the bathroom so dangerous. Are you a novice at navigating oscillating vertical planes? They can be tricky, no doubt. If you have found it necessary either by need or inclination to induce vertical plane oscillations, Don’t Do This has a few pieces of advice:

1 – It is very likely your spouse greatly prefers that you maintain a single, stable vertical plane. Hold on to something while in their presence. Be sure it is a stable object and not something valuable such as a lamp or the TV.

2 – Limit your verbal responses to yes, no, I’m sorry, and excusing yourself to go to the restroom. Be careful in the restroom.

3- If a baffling convergence of the vertical and horizontal planes becomes apparent, you are falling. The bathroom and the kitchen are the two most dangerous rooms in the house (discounting the shop) so don’t fall in either of those rooms.

“Know thyself” was inscribed at the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. Without an ancient Greek (or Apollo) to interpret the saying, it is possible that is was simply an instruction to those vertically-challenged persons entering the temple that they remember who they are before entering. Still good advice, to be sure. Failing to remember who you are while the vertical and horizontal planes are converging in the bathroom, the kitchen, or the Temple of Apollo is discouraged. Don’t do this.
December 11, 2013 at 11:51am
December 11, 2013 at 11:51am
Don't do this: Do not neglect your truck mice
It has been very cold for the last several days. That shouldn’t come as a surprise as it has been reported as being very cold in 46 states. It has been eight degrees on a few mornings, which is cold by most people’s standards. It isn’t much of a concern for me as my most rigorous outdoor activity is starting my wife’s car while in my bathrobe, which I do not recommend. I also walk down to my shop, but I am usually fully clothed for that.

Less lucky is my truck. My winterization regime is based on the temperature never falling below freezing. I am continually disappointed in the outcomes, but this year was particularly dismaying. I do not own a device for checking coolant because they aren’t needed when it never freezes, so I went to my buddy’s house and we checked the coolant. The results of the test were somewhat ambiguous, but the indicator was much closer to the frowning face than the happy face on my buddy’s Playschool Coolant Check device.

As the days dragged on, I began to fear for the worst. I covered the hood with a tarp and put a light bulb under the engine. A 100-Watt light bulb will raise the temperature of an enclosed 4m X 4m x 3m space eleven degrees an hour. This has no relevance to the question at hand. At best, it provided a snug, safe place for rodents. Still, it made me feel better.

As it turned out, my heroic efforts with the 100-Watt bulb succeeded and the truck started. There were no coolant drips after several minutes. It seems that the alarmist warnings maintaining that coolant must be changed periodically are wrong. Still, my climate model needs to be adjusted to include freezing weather. That being the case, I am going to have my oil changed and the coolant replaced. It is also going to impact my landscaping, which includes plants which are hardy down to cool, cloudy days.

I do not recommend attempting to freeze your truck. However, there are many among us who neither have the inclination nor the Good Sense to avoid it. In hind sight, there are a few things that I could have done that might have helped had the antifreeze test indicator been on Mr. Frowny-face’s head instead of just above:

-I could have simply started the thing and let it idle all night. A person trying to steal it would not have made it out of the driveway. No worse vehicle for driving on ice has ever been invented than my truck with the bald tires I currently have on it.

-I could have used a bigger light bulb, but since it would have had no effect at all, I elected not to.

-I might have purchased better liquor, which I did. I could have had the coolant changed for the cost of the cognac I bought, but then I wouldn’t have had cognac.

Our big freeze is almost over. I will be able to drive the truck again as soon as the ice is gone. Life will get back to normal, but with one exception. I have much better liquor than I did before.
December 10, 2013 at 1:21pm
December 10, 2013 at 1:21pm
Don't do this: Do not deny your abilities, be confusing
I wrote a few days ago about how well people such as ourselves can confuse a situation. It is a natural talent, one we take to as easily as breathing. Sadly, we shine less brightly when it comes to avoiding it. Case in point:

I require regular blood tests to see if the almost-never-fatal medication I take has gained any ground in improving its track record. My doctor gave me an order for the test several weeks ago. Naturally, the order was lost. But, remembering that such things are handled electronically these days, I ventured out into the truly abhorrent weather and went to the lab.

Alas, the order had not been sent. Worsening matters was that the doctor’s office was closed three hours because of the weather, which was enormously abhorrent. I called when they opened and the person on the phone told me that the order was not sent electronically because they were unable to do so(!?)

Then ensued a flurry of actions on my part which demonstrated my expertise in confusing a situation. I cancelled my appointment for the next day, changed my mind, and then cancelled it again. I rescheduled and cancelled that, then reinstating the previous appointment. Then I told the receptionist I would call her back.

When I called back, I reached a young woman who sounded identical to the first, so I ran through a brief recap and told her what I wanted to do. The young woman then asked if I remembered who I talked to. My first thought was if they hired patients, as this regrettably forgetful young woman must be, maybe I could get a job. Then I realized that I did not know who I had talked to. I was placed on hold.

Then Megan came on the line. I told her I needed to cancel my appointment for the next day. She asked why I needed to cancel the appointment, and I told her it was because I could not come to the office and pick up the order. Then she said to wait a moment. After a brief time she told me it had been sent to the lab. I reminded her that she had told me earlier that it couldn’t be sent electronically. She explained that she could not send it electronically, but she could fax it (?!) In a fit of pique, I said, “Oh Megan, you naughty girly.”

I doubt if Megan knows why she was naughty. But, if she had offered up that pearl at the beginning of what had become a bad day, things would have worked out just fine. And, there is the minor point that a fax is an electronic process. All this was of course my fault. It always is. I will spend some time working out just how later. I will have to apologize for calling Megan naughty even though I was laughing when I said it. I hope I don’t have to explain why I said it because it will be a tour de force in creating widespread confusion if I try.
December 9, 2013 at 9:59am
December 9, 2013 at 9:59am
Don't do this: And that or that if this and that and...
I don’t have much time to write this morning. I am expecting my orders at 7:00 AM and there is no telling what they will be. They have been, “Stay home and watch our grand daughter” for the last several days, but since this is Monday there is no telling.

It has been well below freezing with several inches of snow on the ground for what seems like a week. I would love to complain about it but apparently everyone in the country is in the same boat. This happens to us every seven to ten years, not often, but occasionally. It is the most boring weather imaginable except for freezing fog, which has the added benefit of being stinky and even more miserable.

Today my mission could be different. Our daughter and grand daughter are here and I might take them to town. My wife might go to work (under duress) which would mean I would have to start my truck. I frankly do not think that is possible. Those of you who are issued directives will recognize what a lame excuse that is for not obeying an order.

Just a month ago this level of uncertainty would have reduced me to a gibbering and confused idiot. Ordinarily I did not gibber. The new and improved me under the influence of the not-always-fatal drug I am taking has elevated me. Now the uncertainty has me terribly confused. It is an encouraging improvement.

Hence the need for clear and simple directives. Orders such as “stay home”, “wash the clothes”, or “go shopping” are manageable. It is when programming statements are added to the mix that I get thrown off. It is not my fault. Some people are not concerned with the order of precedence of said statements.

And, if, else, or, not, for, while, these are not operators that can be thrown into a sentence willy-nilly. “Go shopping or wash clothes if the store is closed” is not an acceptable statement. “Go shopping, or if store is closed, then do wash”. That is a statement. The first sounds like I am to wash clothes when the store is closed. But, the person who issues orders has not only steadfastly refused to learn the rules of precedence, she adamantly refuses to acknowledge their crucial role.

The most egregious failure of command occurred in the horrible clothes washing incidents of ten years ago. The mish-mash of directions on separating clothes resulted in several upbraidings with observations as to my intelligence and competency.

Perhaps you have had this experience: Your spouse lays out a pile of dirty clothes and instructs you how they should be separated. Whites from colors you get. What follows is a dizzying descent into a rabbit hole of conflicting decision points and fuzzy logic (sweaters are a special case). Once your spouse leaves the room, their logic crumbles into a heap of compiler errors and Cartesian products (don’t purchase anything from a Cartesian). The inevitable result is severe and heinous errors accompanied by acute observations on one’s intellect and sanity. All true, of course.

I am out of time, I hope you will excuse the errors since I didn’t have time to edit this entry. I am hopeful my directions for today will be straightforward and without the smattering of mis-used And, If, Else, Then, Or, and While statements. I am a real mess when my complier fails.
December 7, 2013 at 1:16pm
December 7, 2013 at 1:16pm
Don't do this: Do not exclude insane chairment

Guitar six is almost done. I took this picture before I put strings on it for the first time because I honestly didn’t think it would hold up. Styrofoam poster board is more structurally sound than this piece of redwood. The fibers are so soft that wood glue won’t stick to it. But, I strung it up and it held, so I guess I will apply the finish.

I would claim a degree of competence in guitar building, but it isn’t true. That there is a guitar pictured above would seem to argue in favor, but it is a guitar built by committee, and not a very competent committee at that. There were many disagreements, ad hoc changes, unilateral actions by rouge members, and it wasn’t always clear who was in charge, or even in attendance. In the end it was a series of compromises and cosmetic cover-ups. I suppose it requires a bit of competence to produce a playable guitar under those circumstances, but it is not competence in guitar building.

I am paring down the committee. I am optimistic that this new medication plan is going to produce a more decisive and competent chairman. It wouldn’t hurt if they were a little better with wood working also, but those who have hired people will testify that one must be careful how restrictive their standards are. I could end up disqualifying myself.

I am going to apply the finish next. It doesn’t require a committee to apply a French rub finish to a guitar. A few hours of vigorous rubbing, which will be followed by a few more tomorrow, and so on for a couple of weeks, and voila! A beautiful instrument which sounds good, plays well, and is an abomination that I will have to give away before it drives me even more insane.

A guitar is what comes from hanging our in my shop. Before I began building guitars, I would spend my time developing Don’t Do This entries. Now, I hang out down there and a guitar appears. I don’t really have much invested in them emotionally. Although, I do wonder what in hell possessed me to choose that piece of defective redwood I had in the wood closet for a guitar. I could have made really pretty boxes for the grandkids with it. I don’t know why I decided to increase the neck declination two degrees after the blank was already cut, although that rouge committee member is a suspect. But, all these are just curiosities. The guitar “is what it is”, the product of a bent and twisted committee.

Do you habitually do things you know you should not do, like increase the declination of a neck blank after it is cut. Me too. Here are the techniques I use to cover up the inevitable fallout:

Deny – You can deny you knew you shouldn’t do it, although it is a hard sell when it is something you have been told repeatedly not to do. For instance, claiming you did not know you shouldn’t play with oxidizers will only hasten your mental evaluation.

Obscure – Hiding the damage is the best option, although if you fail, it is worse than simply admitting the mistake. Weigh the chances of a mental evaluation against admitting your mistake.

Obfuscation – If there is any one thing people like us can do well, it is a confuse a situation. Take advantage of your natural talents to muddy the already uncertain waters. Take care that you are not just simply confusing yourself, or that mental evaluation is right around the corner.

If the inside of your head is getting crowded and unruly, my recommendation is to disband the committees, working groups, focus groups, and all the other groups. Take control! Get a grip! Good luck with that. It has never worked for me.

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