RL439 - Dick Meningitis

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The Problem: You can’t cheat a transparent man, referring to

The show title refers to blogs warning you that you will get Meningitis if you use someone else’s CPAP machine and Merlin thinking that someone for sure has tried to fuck one and got Meningitis in his dick hole.

John starts the show clearing his throat and they go into that metal song with the cough that they already did a few episodes ago.

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

John working on his book about the long walk (RL439)

John has started working on the book about the big walk again, a friend of the show is helping him, and it happened in 1999, a lot time before podcasting was invented. He had already written a bunch by the mid-2000s and at one point he gave some of it to Madeleine (Merlin’s wife) and he was dogged by a mystery section about Romania that was his eminent’s grease (?). He also had a lot of hot takes, long before anybody else had hot takes, that he wrote into his journal at night and later on in 2003 he went back and fleshed some of them out.

John having problem with memory loss and dropping the thread (RL439)

Merlin doesn’t like to talk about the show on the show and he doesn’t like to flirt too heavily with the notion of continuity between their episodes and he doesn’t reopen a wound, but he wants to talk more about dropping the thread. He watched a documentary last night about Nirvana influencing Britain, he could talk about music, but the thread thing has been dogging him (see RL438).

Hot takes, asides, and pivoting are key to their content, the product they are making for consumers, and it is crucial that if John leaves the trail he will go back to the trail, and when he loses his thread he wonders what else he is here for if not to stick the landing, and they will be just one of 100.000 podcasts where people are rambling and talking over each other and don’t remember what they were saying.

In their backyard episode (see MSHOW) they were talking about different kinds of bullshit, for example in connection with concert promoters with their cigar and their rolled-up bills, or there is nerd-bullshit, which is two guys sitting on a stoop in Greece, or wherever, drinking coffee and bullshitting.

John got a lot of feedback from people about his memory loss, but he didn’t want to pretend because he has always believed firmly that if you confess to everything then the KGB has nothing to use to turn you into a double agent. If they come to Mister X and tell him they know he is cheating on his wife and he better give them those files, he is in deep shit, but that cannot happen to John and he was not going to pretend in this case either. It has sparked a dialog and even to the very small degree that he is online he got a lot of feedback from people suggesting it was probably symptoms of sleep depravation.

John is in a current iteration of a midlife crisis, which he likes to have every 3 years, where he is not eating right, not sleeping well, and not exercising. He is trying not to have a huge bowl of chili at 4am which has happened at other points in his life. The other day he came into the kitchen and took all the ingredients out for one of Daddy’s special goulashes, but when he was looking at the clock he realized it was 3am and he told himself to put it all back, leave it and go to sleep!

John trying to go to a sleep clinic and get a CPAP machine (RL439)

John was at a sleep clinic. All the hospitals in Washington have pivoted to using MyChart, which is there to help you as the patient to interface with the medical profession. They are online 24 hours a day and you can write your doctor, but in reality it is just an app. Merlin might have a MyChart, but he doesn’t know about it, but his wife probably knows everything about it. All of John’s medical records are on there, even notes from a doctor’s appointment he had in 2000.

Like every app, they just want to shovel you over there and somebody will reply. In the end it was a Zoom meeting where John was waiting for a doctor. He has been trying for 2 years to go to a sleep clinic, but why can’t he just get one of these machines, it is not like he is going to abuse it. Merlin’s wife yelled at him last night because he was snoring, which is understandable, but Merlin doesn’t know he is snoring or how to stop doing it. He tried appliance and all kinds of things and nothing helped. Like before he discovered Ephedrine he would take stuff like Ginseng, but just give him the real stuff.

When John ran for City Council 6 years ago in 2015 he didn’t have a single doctor and he was happy, the only thing he had was a dentist and that made him unhappy and he would have been happier without one. By ”happy” he means catastrophically depressed and he kept breaking bones and didn’t get them fixed. Now he was talking to his psychiatry doctor about having sleep problems and the doctor said that back in the days, which wasn’t that long ago, they would send you to a sleep clinic in those cases, they watched you sleep, they wired you up with a bunch of wires that makes it virtually impossible to sleep, but the insurance companies didn’t like that because it is expensive and the first thing you have to do now is get a consultation to see if you can use a home sleep monitoring kit.

John’s psychiatrist was saying this with an eye-roll attached because no-one says: ”I can’t sleep and it is killing me enough that I talk to a doctor about it!” in order to get prescribed a CPAP machine to get high. There is zero fraud in this game. 98% of the people end up getting all the way through to a sleep study because this isn’t a thing that anybody is trying to scam anybody. The insurance companies were trying to save themselves money, but now three different things stand in the way between you and coming out the other side with somebody saying: ”Yes!” John feels like Meat Loaf standing on the front porch with Edward Norton, screaming at him that he is too fat and he needs to go home (reference to Fight Club).

John had a Zoom call with his doctor and he had a spinning beach ball for 30 minutes saying that the host hadn’t started the meeting, and he was wondering if he was doing something wrong. With Skype you can see if the other person is there and you can click and talk, but with Zoom you have to open the right meeting, and almost every week on Do By Friday Merlin has to text his friends and say: ”I think I am in the right place. Do you see me?” because he has no way of knowing.

Back before John had an iPhone he had a Macintosh laptop and Blackberry or flip phone and they all talked about being able to look at emails on your phone for the first time, which at the time seemed like something you really wanted to do and we had no idea that it would one day become a nightmare. The challenge was to integrate the emails on your phone and on your computer, those were exciting times. Merlin remembers it was even worse with your contacts. Now everything is synching, John’s calendar is telling him that he has an appointment, MyChart is sending him updates, but he does not have any real confidence that a real human being at the other end has any awareness.

John looked up the phone number of the sleep clinic to ask them if he was in the right place, and their phone tree was playing some classical music, some Mahler or something on a very tight 1-minute loop, and every 30 seconds the music stopped and a voice said: ”Your call is very important to us. If you want to leave a message and want us to call you back press ”1”, otherwise stay on the line!” Somebody in this clinic must have made the decision that although sleep is a mental health issue, they are going to push you over the edge.

When they finally answered John’s call it turned out that he had the wrong kind of appointment. He was in a Zoom call waiting for a consultation, but he already had a consultation back whenever and he needed a different kind of appointment where he would come in and get the home sleep study. John said he can be at their office in 15 minutes, but she said: ”No! You have to now get a new appointment!” - ”I have this appointment and your office has been sending me emails to confirm it and you sent me a form to fill out. Somebody knew that I had this appointment, but now it is the wrong appointment? I am sleeping 3 hours a night and I desperately need you to help you get this thing!”

It is just something you clamp to your finger! Any kid can drive a Honda Civic. Driving a car seems like something that should be very difficult, but millions of dumfucks all around the world are able to drive cars that are increasingly complicated, but John can’t clamp a thing on his finger unless he has 20 minutes of instruction from a qualified professional and in order to do that he needs to have the right kind of appointment and the only time she could squeeze him in on October 5th, but John has to drive up to Issaquah.

John wondered why he had to go through all this to get a machine he doesn’t even want, and he decided to go online and googled ”black market CPAP machine”. Merlin had also recommended him an article written by his friend where he recommended specific machines. The big players in the CPAP game have used SEO to crowd out any mention of CPAP that is off-license by putting multiple blog posts in the space with the headline: ”How to get a black market CPAP machine”, but when you open the article it says: ”The last thing you want to do is get a black market CPAP machine. Contact your doctor!”

It is a racket because there is no reason why you couldn’t just buy one at the gas stations, so they have to scare you and tell you it needs to be calibrated, otherwise it can make it worse and it can kill you. On YouTube there are 4000 videos of guys telling you how to calibrate your CPAP machine. It is just a knob! If a 16-year old can drive a Honda Civic, then John can figure out how to calibrate a 1-kob CPAP machine, but it is a prescription-only thing.

It was infuriating and John kept digging and went on Craigslist. There is nothing hot about it, but it is something you only do when you absolutely need it, you look a bit like an electronic elephant, like those people in Dune, the floaty guy with all the pimples, Baron Harkonnen. Within a 3-hour drive because none of the CPAP machines are in an urban environment… and they all say that once you get it you never want to be without it. It is like Merlin’s mother in law’s Ambien addiction.

John has not yet bought a CPAP machine on the black market from a 75 year old man in Enumclaw because the blogs are so emphatic that you will get a paralyzing case of Meningitis if you even touch someone else’s CPAP machine, although the ones on Craigslist come with their instruction manuals and are fully sterilized. Merlin thinks that at least one guy has been trying to fuck it and you hear a lot of emergency room stories, maybe you will get Meningitis in your dickhole. There is a great potential to use the CPAP machine in a Blue Velvet way (movie).

What John wants is to sleep for 8 hours a night. He doesn’t want to or should take medicine to sleep because that is a bad precedent, but he will do it against every fiber of his being that still sees himself as somebody who could sleep on a freight train at any given moment. You never see a Hobo with a CPAP (lalala, referring to a Merlin-bit).

Even if John is going through the rigmarole and goes to Issaquah on October 5th, there are going to be 2 weeks before they are going to figure out what his little oxygenator told them, they are going to schedule a follow-up appointment for a sleep clinic, the soonest they are going to get him into that is Thanksgiving, if that happens, and afterwards there are going to be another 2 months where they are sitting in their MyChart, looking at each other laughing, going: ”I wonder how much longer this guy can go without sleep before he dies. Let’s see if we can get him right to the edge!” There are people dying from lack of sleep!

John is past the point where it is just an inconvenience, but he has sleep apnea where he stops breathing in the middle of the night for a while, as has been pointed out by some lady friends who - because he is in his 50s - have a predisposition to make old-man jokes and to say: ”Should I call an ambulance?”, which is a general theme that runs through some of his relationships. John already has a grey beard and looks older than he is.

The advantage with going out to Puyallup and getting a used CPAP machine is that when he finally gets his actual good CPAP machine, if he hasn’t contracted Meningitis from not having it sterilized properly he will have two CPAP machines, and who is the patient now? How is that ever a bad thing? He will have a home CPAP machine and a truck CPAP machine.

A CPAP forces air in, whether you want it or not, and everybody says that the first thing they did when they woke up the next day was go out the front porch and lift a car off a trapped child and they threw a javelin 150 meters which they couldn’t do before, and they gave sex to their wife because their blood was invigorated by this new influx of oxygen. There is a lot of blood in John, probably two extra pints, and that is the only reason he is not dead yet because the extra blood gives him more oxygen. Imagine if he had normal amount of oxygen in his blood!

For several years in the mid-2010s a few people close to John would every once in a while look up from their book and say: ”Stop tweeting at me!” He and his daughter have a relationship that is increasingly based on her contempt for him, but she has not figured out yet that one day she is going to tell him: ”Stop podcasting at me!” because she will ask a simple question like: ”Why don’t you get a new mailbox because your old one is rusty?” and John will start: ”In 1874 a man by the name of…”

Merlin mentions Tom Selleck in connections to sponsors John could have on his podcast like Rocket Mortgage and he says that Tom Selleck has a whole new series of ads because he is frustrated of having to explain to elderly people that a reverse mortgage is not a way to take away your home. He is losing his fucking mind! John could do a bespoke intra-podcast in his house to his kid and although it would not even be recorded she could still use the special offer code at checkout.

John is very interested in people like Tom Selleck. If you were George Clooney, you are rich and you are living in Lake Como, you got a lovely family, and you wonder why he would ever work again. Tom Selleck also probably has enough money to live just fine, but he is out there, super-angry about reverse mortgages. Yesterday Merlin found an ad for Door Dash that has a basset hound in it and he had a hanker in for a basset hound for a while and he submitted that to his family. Basset hounds can stand on their ears. Merlin wants a dog with short legs and big feet.

John is going to get a black market CPAP machine and he will be so on fire on their next show! You can always sell it again to some software guy in San Francisco who embarrassed to even need a CPAP machine. Today Merlin accidentally put on two different shoes, that is what he is dealing with, and the Breathe Right strips are not doing it for him. He also needs a CPAP, otherwise he will not be able to keep up with John. They could double the amount of content in an hour of show because they will be so oxygenated and there is going to be overflow, they are going to hit their first major scale problem.

Merlin signed up for MyChart, but without an activation code, so it sent him through a truly hilarious series of questions powered by Experian.

John can’t do it today or tomorrow because he has to go to baseball games. It is the end of the season and the Mariners are doing well and all of John’s baseball friends got the gangs back together by going to baseball games during the summer when COVID was supposed to be over and John went to probably 10 games this summer with different little gangs. You have Jason Finn over here, Ben and Chad over there, George Meyer over here, Ken Jennings threw out a first pitch at a game.

Ben was carrying Merlin’s daughter when she was a toddler, it might have been the night John spit on the street car, the night they went to M.C. Hammer’s birthday party and met M.C. Hammer’s mom. It was literally Hammer Time!

But it is not inconceivable that on Wednesday he will drive down to Spanaway or out to Lakewood and pick up a black market CPAP machine and he will watch YouTube to learn how easy it is to sterilize and calibrate it, and he is going to go rogue! He might become the most oxygenated man in Washington! How much oxygen can you really take? There must be a point at which you get too much oxygen, but a CPAP machine is just putting air in you, except for that one with the little tank that also has a humidifier. Maybe you could pipe in a little bit of Nitrous Oxide? Your dreams will be so amazing!

Since December 10th of 1994 John has not had any drugs or alcohol, he won’t even take cold medicine, he doesn’t want anything to do with it, he doesn’t want pain medicine, but he will strap two fingers together with a pair of chopsticks and he will be fine. But when someone is making an ice cream sundae at the house and they get to the end of the whipped cream he will take the can and if nobody is watching he will take a Whippit.

Being prepared, having a small bag packed, how Nabil Ayers ended up in The Long Winters through a Frisbee (RL439)

Every time John walks out of his house, a part of him says: ”Be prepared to run!” Merlin is trying to teach his daughter to be prepared for the mission, that might be waiting out there, that you don’t even know about yet. You never know when you need to climb a fence.

When Harrison Ford left the office that day, he did not expect his wife to be killed by a one-armed man and he did not expect that he would have to jump off a dam in order to escape Tommy Lee Jones (in the movie The Fugitive). It is the whole philosophy behind keeping a small bag packed! John is always ready and he is always checking his six (see RL50), and when he sees two guys in black suits that look like Tommy Lee Jones he puts the car in maximum overdrive.

There is always a jacket in the truck, even if it is 95 degrees, and he always carries a tennis racket because you never know when someone is going to invite you to a game. He also has a baseball mitt and a Frisbee because he does’t want to run back to get these things.

The only reason Nabil Ayers ended up as the drummers in The Long Winters is that they were auditioning drummers in Jon Auer’s practice space from The Posies, and when they came there Jon opened the door just a crack as if he didn’t have any clothes on, and he asked them to wait in the parking lot. John had a Frisbee in the car and he tossed it to Nabil across the parking lot and Nabil caught it and threw it back in such a way that he was communicating to John.

This happened with Reggie Watts as well 25 years ago when they were walking in a park and somebody threw a Frisbee, John caught it, threw it to Reggie, and he threw it to the guy and all of a sudden they immediately formed a giant triangle in the park. Reggie, among his many other talents, is great with a Frisbee. Throwing a Frisbee is like improv, and at the end of the parking lot game John knew that Nabil was the drummer. He still runs the record label with Pixies on it, a deal he got at a cocktail party.

Last summer one of John’s tennis partners showed up with new tennis shoes while John was playing with boat shoes and no socks. He used to be a Stan Smith man and he still has some around here because he did the Chris Walla thing where he bought 3 pairs in 1994 and is still working his way through his second pair. At some point last summer John bought some shoes specifically for Tennis and now he has a tennis racket and shoes in a bag, he has a Frisbee, a baseball glove, and apparently in a week also a black market CPAP machine.

John’s daughter getting his tonsils and adenoids out when she was 4 years old (RL439)

When John’s daughter was between 2-4 years old she would stop breathing in the night and John was terrified and would wake her up. Merlin did the same thing when their cat was dying a couple of weeks ago, he would shake her a little bit and when she would move he knew she was not dead yet. John would sit next to his daughter’s bed while she slept and watch her stop breathing. When the doctor looked at her throat she laughed out loud because this child had the largest adenoids she had ever seen.

John does not have a large nose and for a kid that is very cute and he had ash-blonde hair and freckles and a cute little nose and he should have been on television instead of the kid with the big Coke-bottle glasses that was the new kid on Eight is Enough. John is confusing Jonathan Lipnicki with Mason Reese, Adam Rich and Robbie Rist who played Cousin Oliver, and that is who John was thinking about. When you get to be a full-grown person a little pug-nose is no longer an advantage and John is sure he has his daughter’s adenoids.

John’s daughter got her tonsils and adenoids out when she was 4 years old, which was a very stressful procedure, she still had her anesthesia mask and every once in a while she would pull it out and do a Blue Velvet and breathe through it, but three days ago John threw it in the garbage because it had become gross. John has some wonderful recordings of her as a 4-year old with her little tonsillitis-voice and now she can breathe and she has never stopped breathing in the night since then. John should have had the same procedure done when he was 5 years old.

In 1977 everybody got their tonsils out, but John didn’t because his mom didn’t believe in doctors. He couldn’t breathe his whole life and he still can’t breathe, and when you get a tonsillectomy at 55 years old it takes 6 months to recuperate. It gets worse the older you get, like chicken pox. You don’t want a surgery inside your throat!

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License