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September 18, 2014
3:42pm 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
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.
December 6, 2013 at 10:14am
December 6, 2013 at 10:14am
Don't to this: Do not disturb rabid dust bunnies
I think marriage vows are a dandy thing. But, I think there needs to be an escape clause attached to “for better or worse”. For better or worse up to a point. For better or worse mostly. Or, in my case, for better or worse except for insanity.

I think if my wife had the option of invoking an escape clause, she would have invoked it some time ago. I have become a bit tedious over the years until now I shout at invisible things, clearly remember things that never happened, and completely forget things that did (or so I am told). Clearly, my wife is bearing a ponderous load. That is why I have been actively seeking ways to make her happier.

Doing more cleaning would help. Sadly, I am a failure at housekeeping. I have what may be a common male disability – Dirt Blindness. Those afflicted fail to recognize dirt when they see it. Yes, I see the dust on the plentitude of knick-knacks we have covering every flat surface in the house, but it doesn’t look like dirt. It isn’t hurting anything. In fact, on top of the multifarious knick-knacks is a good place for it, otherwise it would be floating around aggravating our allergies. I am told that in this, I am mistaken. I occasionally try my hand at dusting. Don’t do this. It will not improve your spouse’s happiness. I have never dusted without knocking something off a shelf, and every one of the teeming multitudes of knick-knacks is crucial to my wife’s happiness.

I am told the cupboards need washed. The difference in hue before and after washing is not within the male color detection threshold, which is three shades of white. Females can detect thirty shades of white. That is why paint stores have selections of white paint with three colors but thirty names. My wife can tell if the cupboards have been washed, and also if they have been washed satisfactorily, which I cannot. Attempting this chore does not improve her happiness either.

I am also told that dirt which cannot be seen must be removed. This is beyond me. My wife is five foot tall, yet she knows the top of the refrigerator is “filthy”. I am encouraged to develop these dirt psychic skills so I may clean more effectively. Looking for that which cannot be seen is in large part what got me promoted to bipolar I. And, I never once saw invisible dirt. Needless to say, this does not increase her happiness.

My wife may be considering an alternative to the regrettable escape clause omission: an eject button. She has mentioned more than once that the shop would make a very cozy apartment with the addition of a cot. The shop has a few shortcomings as an apartment what with the complete lack of plumbing and kitchen amenities, but she has correctly pointed out that a camp toilet and a hot plate would solve that.

I clearly need to increase her happiness if I hope to avoid living in my shop. My doctor will be disappointed, but if looking for invisible dirt will help then I am willing to try. The tricky part is that once one starts looking for invisible things, they often find things much worse than a “filthy” refrigerator, and that will certainly not increase her happiness.
December 5, 2013 at 10:03am
December 5, 2013 at 10:03am
Don't do this: Avoid delirium unless you are delusional
It is hard to tell if you are delusional. Delusions and reality have similar qualities in that both seem normal. Being told one is delusional is akin to being told, “Don’t be so normal”. People wandering around in an alternate reality of delusion often claim that it is everyone else who is in the wrong one. Due to the difficulties outlined above, it is hard to know if they are wrong.

What brings this up is that it is cold. Dangerously so, we are told. There is something about the pairing of the word ‘dangerous’ with the words heat or cold which makes going outside irresistible. I can sit through 85-degree weather perfectly happy, but let it reach 95-degrees and I am getting my hiking gear together. One hundred, one 0’five, the hotter the better.

I think it is fun to hike until I am verging on unconsciousness. I may be delusional about that, because I am pretty sure it is not fun. I have confirmed that is indeed dangerous on more than one occasion. My doctor has forwarded a few ideas concerning the question, but my wife has never been present when he has made the alarmist contentions, so I am free to continue for the time being.

Regardless of what the doctor may think, avoiding self destruction is relatively easy during hot weather, but cold weather is tricky. On a hot day, one may possibly encounter another hiker who will help them into the shade and pour water on their head. There will be no one out today. When one begins to overheat, it is a gradual ramping-up of symptoms. When in cold weather, one is colder, colder, then unable to move. One doesn’t get much of a warning. That has never happened to me, mostly because I don’t like being cold so I don’t walk far. There are limits to my delusions about that.

If you think you would like to give self destruction a try, I have a few tips for you. These have been learned by trial and error. I advise against both trial and error.

Walking in dangerous heat – One reads that light long-sleeved shirts should be worn to keep the sun off the skin. That is fine advice, but the more important reason is that when you collapse on a gravel road, you will find that the gravel is very, very hot. Long sleeves help.

Walking in dangerous cold – A brief reading of Jack London short stories reveals that delirium and delusions are a hazard of extreme cold. Mr. London wrote about real cold, whereas what we have here is pretend cold, but his observations still hold. Those of us who occasionally contend with delusions are at an advantage here. Try to enjoy the delirium, and keep up the delusion that you are having fun. Now would be a good time to turn around.
December 4, 2013 at 9:22am
December 4, 2013 at 9:22am
Don't do this: Do not make caffeine crystals at home
I think I have unraveled a mystery that has been nagging at me for the last few weeks. As I have written before, I have been feeling strange. My doctor had changed my diagnosis from bipolar II to bipolar I sometime in November. He prescribed a medication of exceeding virtue, so much so that the practically minor risk of death made taking it still worthwhile. When it became apparent I probably would not die from taking it, I slowly increased the dosage. I was sure after only a few days that I was feeling better.

Then my wife got me a one-cup coffee maker for my birthday. I didn’t think I would like it at first, but when I realized that it was a great convenience, I made a lot of coffee. I fiddled with it until I could produce a tar-like cup of extremely strong coffee.

I have the restraint and judgment of a rabid cat. I will abuse or overdo anything which has the potential for it. In the case of the coffee maker, I began to drink the beautiful caffeine condensate with true devotion. I have had three cups this morning and it is only 5:47. As I sat contemplating the espresso roast goo in my coffee cup this morning, something occurred to me.

The not-always-fatal medication I had begun taking was intended to treat exactly those symptoms which I was recreating by consuming truly abusive amounts of coffee. It is hardly a stretch to imagine why I might feel strange. The not-fooling-around-here medication was attempting to keep a lid on a brain that was being fed a constant stream of a stimulant. I had devised a dangerous but effective goof ball. One may say what they want about my lack of Good Sense, but they cannot fault my instincts.

It may not come as a surprise that this is not the first time I have abused coffee. When I was a young man, I began drinking espresso, and not just a little. After a time, I began to experience unpleasant symptoms which might have indicated an STD. I was mystified as to what may have happened, and I told the doctor so. He performed the standard test, and when the results came back, he conducted an interview. One of the questions concerned drinking coffee. After I told him that I drank substantially more than simply a lot of espresso, he told me that my problem was caused by caffeine crystals in places were one would not hope to see them. Then he commented that the lab people were quite interested because they had not seen the condition outside of a text book.

I need to get a blood test before I go back to see my doctor on the 10th. I will wean myself off of my coffee habit so I don’t garner the interest of another set of lab people. I am hoping to be the very model of a conservative gentleman of sober demeanor and expressing reasoned thoughts. Any little improvement would be better than the last few months. I have been interesting to more than just the lab people lately.
December 3, 2013 at 9:22am
December 3, 2013 at 9:22am
Don't do this:Avoid more than 5 degrees. Wheels fall off
I sat on the toilet of the pet store with water dripping on my head thinking, “This is strange, too”. It had been a strange day in general. I have written recently about feeling strange. Not bad, necessarily, but definitely different. I feel as if reality has been turned five degrees and now the world looks slightly different. Those Don’t Do This readers who have felt strange at one time or another, which accounts for all, will understand how the condition will turn everyday events into curiosities, or extraordinary events into psychedelic experiences.

We were cleaning out my father-in-law’s house in town in preparation for sale. He lives down south and doesn’t need or want the house. My father-in-law is a bit of a hoarder. We found four new pairs of shoes in a closet. Since my buddy down the road wore that size, I brought them home.

He tried on one pair and they fit, so we opened another. The third box looked strange. When I opened the box, I realized it was a contraption to treat erectile dysfunction. It was quite strange. I had never seen such a thing outside of late night infomercials. The device was new and unopened. The air was rife with questions too profound for our weak minds to grasp. My buddy and I decided that the thrift store would be the best place for it.

We left for town on our regular shopping trip and came up on a truck towing a field rake. The rear wheels were wobbling as those on gurneys will do. We entered into a discussion of why every rake had the same problem. We speculated that it had to be hard on the wheels. We went through a list of components that would affected, the tire, the wheel, the hub, so on. Then the left wheel fell off and began rolling into the opposite lane. The axle hit the pavement and began giving off a plume of sparks. The truck pulled over, and as we passed, I thought, “This is strange”.

When we arrived at the thrift store, I walked in and quickly dropped off the device. I returned to the car to watch the reaction of the store volunteer. A young woman came to the cart a minute later. She opened the box and examined the contents and put her hand to her mouth. She waved another volunteer over and they both fell on each other in laughter. As far as thrift store experiences go, it was extraordinary.

We continued with our shopping trip, which took us to a pet store. I went to use the rest room. There was a sign on the toilet stall warning that there was a roof leak. The damage appeared to be toward the middle of the room. It was not. The drip was directly over the toilet. As the large drops spattered on my hat, I thought, “This strange, too”.

A summing of the occurrences revealed yesterday to be a strange day. I have considered if perhaps it was normal and that it was I that was strange, because that happens sometimes. The discovery of the device that was not a pair of shoes was quite odd. I have followed field rakes a hundred miles and have never seen a wheel come off during a discussion of why they should. The water dripping on my head was the topper, so to speak. I am eager to venture out today to see if this is the new normal, because if it is, reality has shifted quite a bit more than just five degrees.
December 1, 2013 at 10:27am
December 1, 2013 at 10:27am
Don't do this: Hitting both toes will make things worse
I feel very strange. I don’t know if that it is good or bad. The old “normal” was not great, so I guess this could be better. I am going to stick with the med plan and see where I end up. Hopefully not the mental health inpatient ward.

I hate to trouble my wife with the trials and travails of my feature-rich emotional states. For one thing, she has had enough to last her a good while. For another, she sees a link between my alcohol consumption and periodic declines that I do not see. Or rather, I see it inversely. I think it helps. I have developed some tools for disguising my less desirable lapses. Hiding an attempt to avoid stepping on an invisible cat is tough. But, it is not impossible. Those of you that have experience with hiding anything from your spouse know what a futile and dangerous exercise it is. Still, sparing your spouse from the disappointment of having their worst fears reaffirmed is worth the risk.

There are times when navigating a house is difficult. Perhaps troubling spatial distortions are making the floor uneven (oddly enough, walking a floor that only appears to be uneven has the same result as if it actually is). Or, your efforts to silence annoying invisible things using home remedies has left you debilitated. You may be faced with that most difficult and imposing of questions, “What is wrong with you?” A short, reasonable answer is needed. Hit your toe with a hammer. You can truthfully claim that the reason you are walking poorly is that you have a sore foot. Do not say you stubbed your toe on anything that is invisible to your spouse.

Sometimes people are simply not intelligible. Even the most reasoned and intelligent of speaker (such as your spouse) will unknowingly begin speaking backwards or in some language that you have neglected to learn. The speaker may be unaware of their lapse. Correcting your spouse is not conducive to favorable marital relations. Listen attentively until they finish speaking. Then say, “Ow! My foot really hurts!” Limp to the shop and hit your toe with a hammer. With luck, your spouse will have begun speaking English again when you limp back.

Some things are simply impossible to hide. Tremors, spasms, knocking over valuable and treasured belongings, these things garner attention. Your spouse has probably come to accept such things, but the general public probably has not. If a member of the public insists on giving aid, do not say, “I’m fine”. You are obviously are not fine. Claiming that you are will raise suspicions. That’s bad. Say, “I have a very sore foot”. After the continuous pounding you have been giving your toe, it is probably quite true.
November 30, 2013 at 9:54am
November 30, 2013 at 9:54am
Don't do this: Do not detonate things in the kitchen
Aluminum nitrate heated above 240-degrees C. will detonate. Complete this portion of the project well before starting gingerbread construction.

I had great hopes that the recent medication change I undertook was going to be relatively smooth. That was irrational. Even minor med changes are rough. This one is not minor. My wife is an astute and ardent observer of my behavior. This is largely precautionary. Observing my erratic behavior yesterday, she asked, “How do you feel?” I replied, “Really weird.”

It is not unusual for one to feel normal and do things which are not. Perhaps you have discovered that one can produce Nitrous Oxide at home. This will require using the kitchen as a lab, something that is squarely on the “Don’t Do This” list. It is clearly a deranged thing to do. But, do you feel weird while doing it? No, of course not. Doing something like that is normal for those of our ilk.

Being of our ilk but feeling weird is new ground for me. I feel like the mania is better but I am hallucinating a bit. I feel a little more relaxed but I am out of sync with reality and everything is happening one second before I experience it. I go back to the doctor in ten days to report on how things are going (if I don’t see him in a more brilliantly-lit and sterile environment before that). I have no idea what I will tell him. Shall I say I feel better except for the hallucinations and detachment? I think not.

I have been on the lookout for things that that seem normal but that one would only do when feeling weird. Most of Don’t Do This is damage control, evidence abatement, and relationship maintenance. Weird things are in a class of their own. So far I have come up with these which were gleaned from yesterday:

Gingerbread houses – constructing a gingerbread house with grandchildren is just plain crazy. It doesn’t take a Don’t Do This reader to know that much. Constructing two is somewhat worse. It takes a Don’t Do This reader to know how much. Not only are the results questionable, but the children have consumed enough sugar to match my level of weirdness easily. I think we were all hallucinating by the end.

Tween’s television programming – Programs made to appeal to older children are everything one could wish for in a tortuous viewing experience. If you find you are holding off dinner in order to catch the end of the Jessie Christmas Special, there is something wrong.

Remedial Convenience Cooking – Perhaps you occasionally attempt to feed children. My condoloences. Our grandchildren prefer nutritionally negative items, which I willingly serve. There are only two ingredients to Chinese noodles. Both are crucial. If there is a unanimous consensus that the noodles are deficient, you forgot one. Probably the spices.

I am finding weirdness difficult to navigate. If you are weird and are succeeding in navigating the troubled waters of a one-second delayed reality, then kudos! Perhaps we could share notes on why caulking is superior to icing as a construction material, and on the comparative merits of Tween television programming. In closing, I offer this: Waiting to start your Nitrous Oxide production until you desperately need it is inadvisable. Don’t do this.
November 29, 2013 at 11:01am
November 29, 2013 at 11:01am
Don't do this:Calling a woman Monkey Love is inadvisable
I have been inspired by a bit of praise. It doesn’t take much. My wife will tell you that it is best not to encourage me, but if the saying holds that every dog has its day, I feel I should get one also. I just don’t want it to be this day, particularly. I would like to put it into my meager Good Day Savings Account and haul it out when the weather is better.

Good Days come around this time of year without any prompting. They are intermingled with really bad days. It is a bipolar season. If I was able to coordinate and match my ups with the season’s downs, maybe I would be normal. This, of course, isn’t how it works.

How it works is that despite solemn vows and determined resistance, I will end up in town on Black Friday. I will probably do it again on December 24th. If I were the paranoid type, which I am, I would say that some omnipotent force was working to drive me insane. I don’t want to point fingers, but there is only one omnipotent force in the room and it isn’t my orchid. I don’t think. As far as I can remember, I have never done anything to God or my orchid to make them mad enough to send me to town on Black Friday. Obviously, I am mistaken.

I am debating on withdrawing my Good Day for the occasion, but it might be a waste. Even a good Black Friday excursion is torture. Why waste a Good Day on that? I have medications for that sort of thing. I know people who are not daunted by the prospect of teeming crowds, calamitous Christmas music with several songs playing at once, store lighting amplified to blinding levels, and everyone feeling obliged to talk to you. I admire people who can endure that. I cannot.

Yesterday our cat was lying behind the curtains of the sliding glass door as she is wont to do as the heater vent runs under the floor. I could see her little paws and tail sticking out from under the drape. I told my wife as we were leaving to watch out for the cat. She said, “What cat?” This incident is further proof that a Black Friday assault is not in the cards for me. If my wife is unconcerned about stepping on an invisible cat, what is she going to do with me in the maelstrom of a large store?

I am going to stay my home, pull out my Good Day, and go invisible critter hunting. The forest is an interesting place in this condition. I saw a skunk the size of a Labrador Retriever once. A Good Day is a very useful thing in a situation like that.

If you have found yourself in a disorienting place having forgotten to bring a Good Day and are insufficiently medicated, there are a few things you can try in order to avoid a mental evaluation. Read How to Pass a Mental Evaluation before leaving for town just in case.

- There is a sea of dazzling lights directly in front of you. You have fallen down. Get up. Don’t say, “I’m fine”. Say, “I need to eat”.

- The crowd has turned to a Fellini-esque assemblage of leering faces with distorted features and lurid colors. You are in the toy section. Leave before you get to the war toys. They are worse.

- You wife has unexpectedly become hostile and people are looking at you even more strangely than the dolls did. It is not your wife. Apologize and walk away (not into the toy section!).

Latching onto a strange woman will gather attention. You are now at the mercy of store security. Hopefully they will page your wife. Be sure to get her name right! Monkey Love was a doll. Don’t do this.
November 28, 2013 at 9:01am
November 28, 2013 at 9:01am
Don't do this:Do not repair extra-dimensional lights
Screwing with feng shui

The decorating is going well despite the hazards. Our windows are filled with breakable and valued things, except for the rocks, which are just valued. I have knocked a couple of things off the shelves but they either didn’t break or I caught them in time.

I feel the windows can be decorated without removing all these items. I would never get them back in the right place, which is important because they are placed in accordance with some bizarre feng shui. It is also time consuming and I need all my available time to consider why bizarre feng shui rules result in seemingly foreordained mishaps instead of preventing them.

The factor which makes the operation feasible is that the lights and tinsel are very distracting and minor mishaps are disguised. There is one foreordained incident that hasn’t been discovered even these two years later. The relationship between our other-worldly feng shui setup and the universally foreordained discrediting of my competency is something else I think about.

I am not given to moderation in any of its forms. Having a condition which is infamous for its immoderate effects is just one reason. The other reason is that if the truth regarding the universe is to be discovered, it is going to require some work. It is essential to the mission of Don’t Do This that we know if the universe is conspiring against us. If it is, that takes a lot pressure off. For instance, we will know before hand that there is no possible way to make a gasoline powered rocket safe, and that relieves us from the effort of trying. I am making progress. I am close to having nothing ever go right. Then the universal forces will be in balance and I will know the truth.

It is that time when some advice concerning seasonal activities would be useful. Here are a few tips regarding another universally foreordained condition concerning Christmas lights.

-All the light strands worked when you carefully laid the lights in the container eleven months ago. Now, some of them do not work. We all wonder why, but it is due to some unfathomable foreordained feng shui failure and I am thinking about that for you, so make a hot buttered brandy and continue on. Your innate inability to act out of moderation and buy new lights may prompt you to debug the problem. Don’t do this. Modern light strands fail extra-dimensionally and you won’t be able to get back if you go there.

-You may be frustrated that light strands cannot be straitened out. It seems to defy nature that something twisted cannot be untwisted. Christmas light strands are twisted extra-dimensionally. They may look like right when on the ground, but they aren’t. Screwing with them will aggravate pre-existing universal conditions and will cause catastrophic failure somewhere along the line. Just put them up.

-It is said that hanging wall paper with someone is the true test of a relationship. In fact, it is only one. Hanging Christmas lights is another. Mess with your spouse’s feng shui and the universe will show you what foreordained really means. Don’t do this.
November 27, 2013 at 10:54am
November 27, 2013 at 10:54am
Don't do this: Nine-year olds know best, don't argue
The holidays are tough for many people, including me. Of all the things I am not built well to handle, I am not built well to handle the holidays the most. Besides the obvious things that a person of uncertain temperament might object to, there are the increased demands that require a higher level of competency. I am really very bad at that.

I am glad I am able to relieve my wife of the burden of shopping for Thanksgiving dinner. She works long hours, has an epic commute, and there is a person of uncertain temperament she must contend with. She takes care to make complete, explicit shopping lists with travel routes, stores to shop at, and anything else she can think of that will be helpful. As you might suspect, I never get it right.

I am not the only marginally competent person whose spouse has dispatched on a crucial yet impossible mission. There are aisles clogged with people (read: men) trying to discern the difference between canned onions and cocktail onions. We have two jars of cocktail onions in the cupboard.

Where my mission runs into trouble is related to the sequential nature of lists. Let’s suppose I am weaving down an isle and I spy something which is number seven on the list. I claim it and cross it off the list. That happens about half the time. The other half I have either crossed off the wrong item, or I have chosen the wrong item. Worsening matters, I fail to return to the top of the list from where I had left off. Lists should not be sequential, they should be dynamic. That is why I bride a grandchild with candy and have them help. If ever there was a dynamic system, a nine-year old is one of them. Plus, I can claim to have been distracted by them.

I am shopping today. I have the advantage of having our nine-year old grand daughter with me. The medication change I underwent last week has destabilized me, which is not unusual. They always do initially. That is not making this weekend any easier. I know we are picking up children, dropping them off, having dinner, not having dinner, and getting a day off, but I have no idea who or when. I have been enjoined from asking because it doesn’t do any good and my wife is tired of telling me.

I have to admit to a bit of fatigue with persistent mania. The dietary supplements I use are not compatible with driving a nine-year old personal assistant around town. Sallying forth in a desperate and doomed assault on stores full of holiday shoppers is not compatible with being of uncertain temperament. In short, I am not looking forward to this weekend.

But, I have put up almost all of the inside and outside lights. That makes things cheery. There is the possibility, remote as it may be, that the new medication will begin to perform as advertised. And, I do have a magic bullet for mania (draconian as it is). Children are not allowed in my shop by edict of their mothers and no one else is inclined to, so I have an escape route. As a word of caution, the holidays are possibly not the best time to cut back on the lithium. Don’t do this.
November 26, 2013 at 11:06am
November 26, 2013 at 11:06am
Don't do this: A spirit has no use for an address book
Don’t Do This is packed with valuable free advice you will find nowhere else. It is invaluable for helping you extricate yourself from troubling situations. But, it isn’t 100% effective. There are some events and situations that are so indelibly etched with your modus operandi that you may have well signed and dated them.

My wife’s address book was misplaced some time ago. The natural assumption was that I had done something with it. I couldn’t deny it because I have no memory of the events happening before yesterday. I seldom used it except when directed to in order to mail something. It seemed to me to be unlikely that I had misplaced it because I almost never handled it. That argument held no sway with my wife and she told me to find it. I did not find it.

The situation here is making it hard to raise any sort of holiday spirit, but I knew it would cheer my wife up to see the outside Christmas lights put up. I retrieved the large tub containing the lights from the storage closet and began testing them. I worked my way down through the layers of coiled strands, which all miraculously worked, and under the fifth coil of lights I spied something strange. I picked up the lights and there lay my wife’s address book splayed open.

There is only one person in the house capable of that, and it isn’t the spirit in the foyer. My wife thought it was funny. She had been able to get the addresses she needed elsewhere so it wasn't too much of a hassle. The worrisome part is that it further illustrates the acts I am capable of and I don't need any more examples. How and why the book was opened and deposited in the tub and then not noticed when more lights were piled on would be a mystery, except that it had to have been I that had done it, and that makes it obvious.

As for me, the incident doesn’t matter too much. That I am almost completely insane is not in question. For you that have not been found out yet, it does have some value. There are some things that I tried before I found it was useless to try. You might do better. The following applies to things that carry your mark so clearly that you may have well given DNA and urine samples (don’t do this):

-Do not blame fictional, imaginary, hallucinated, or corporeally-challenged entities. Except where plausible. Use your judgment on this.

-Do not deny the incident ever happened. This will backfire and cause your spouse to suspect you have become (more) psychotic.

-Do not claim you remember the incident and it wasn’t your fault. Your spouse is well aware of your memory issues and your propensity for constructing revisionist histories.

Deciding if one should simply admit their lapse is dependent on how much further along the harmless/dangerously deranged scale it moves them. If you are only suspected of being insane then good job! You are hiding it well. However, if you are treading a fine line then a defense of some sort is warranted. I hope it works better for you than it has for me. I am smashed right up against the dangerously deranged line and the appearance of the address book did not help.

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