Monday, June 21, 2021

The Folly of Medical Hyperventilation

Medicine has made great progress abandoning harmful treatments since its accidental euthanization of President George Washington in 1799. But modern medical practitioners are still figuring out how to optimally treat many conditions.  

An Achilles' heel is a weakness in spite of overall strength, which can lead to downfall.

My stories of the Taxi Wars are of humanity's struggles against the machines we've created for ourselves. One of my common observations was of people who are not helped (and often harmed) by standard medical practices. While this post is not directly related to my experiences as a taxi driver, it is highly relevant to humanity's struggle against our Medical Machine.

Modern doctors sometimes decide their patient's tissues are low on oxygen and prescribe various amounts of supplemental oxygen. A little extra oxygen is sometimes helpful. But investigators have repeatedly confirmed this fundamental fact: oxygen in excess is always toxic

Hyperventilation is when someone breathes too rapidly. This causes too much carbon dioxide [CO2] to be expelled from the blood. As discussed below, medically-administered oxygen also removes too much CO2 from the patient's blood, resulting in Medical Hyperventilation

While certain patients may seem to initially benefit from oxygen therapy, the science is clear enough to this simple former taxi driver that I do everything I can to caution people to not let their doctors hyperventilate them to death. I further believe there are perfectly reasonable therapies for poor oxygen saturation levels that incorporate the antidote for oxygen toxicity and thereby prevent Medical Hyperventilation. The evidence for these positions is summarized below.

There is no polite way to point out to the medical guild that their cavalier use of pure oxygen is not so different from the bloodletting, calomel (mercury) and blister agents that were used to finish off President Washington. The media will not jump to the cause of holding Medicine to account for their anti-scientific use of oxygen. Alas, I offer a proposal for a distributed second-guessing of the medical industry's backwards practice. 

If enough of us inquire whether a hospital routinely inadvertently deteriorates their patients with pure oxygen, the hospitals will hopefully stop harming patients with anti-treatments that  Paul Bert and J. Lorrain Smith precisely identified as harmful 143 and 122 years ago.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

False Prophesy

An anecdote on the toxic mix of gullibility and false authority

Somewhat recently I went to visit my mother. I'd seen reports of a lunar eclipse that night. We went outside at the appointed time and watched the moon turn red for a while. While watching the progression of that eclipse, I remembered the time I'd amused myself by becoming a false prophet.

On a night with a total lunar eclipse, maybe 5 years before, I picked up a group of three people in their 20's - two males and a female. I gleefully told my passengers about the imminent eclipse. I don't remember my exact delivery, but I made an effort to be a 'goofy taxi driver' to amuse my passengers. I was kind of like the crazy neighbor Kramer from the 90's TV sitcom Seinfeld.

I might have said, "... and tonight, on your taxi ride, THE MOON IS GOING AWAY."

The guys recognized my faux seriousness. The woman cautiously asked, "What does that mean?"

I might have responded, "Everyone needs a vacation, the moon is no exception. The moon is going to dim for a while. "


"It's not like it's getting moon-napped, it's just taking an involuntary break from its duties, of lighting up our night sky."


"It's completely normal, it's called a blood moon." I tried to explain a lunar eclipse, but she didn't have the references to understand my explanations. 

Failing to explain, I sensed an opportunity to amuse myself. 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Small Acts of Kindness

A few months ago I got a txt message from my one-time taxi passenger. It said she'd passed:

Screenshot: txt message from 'Cab Lori Terrified Hot Flashes Calmed Down'
I sometimes saved passengers' phone numbers with little notes to jog my memory, if I thought they might call me directly for a ride. But it's been years since I was active. 'Who was this?'

I tried to search my notes, but I put most of them in a file format that's not easily searched. I recently heard about ripgrep, a command line tool for searching all types of files. I thought back to Laurie again this afternoon, installed ripgrep on my linux machine and used it to find the note:
216241 - 15555 N XXth Pl Pho - Lori 602-888-1111 - drove up, called, pulled forward, found her sitting on the back of a red truck. Totally spooked - first cab ride ever. I turned around, she got in, wanted to go to 2212 E Bell Rd, the QT, to redeem her winning scratchers. Got back - she has hot flashes. Later called me to thank me for helping her feel safe.
She'd never taken a taxi before, and had a problem with anxiety. I tried to get all my passengers to laugh, usually adopting a 'goofy taxi driver' persona. Some did not appreciate my antics, but they apparently were calming to Laurie. I'd made her entry bold, probably because she was one of those passengers whom I had the impression was sent to me specifically.

I recently saw this tweeted picture from CALM magazine:
Not all of my passengers needed "small acts of kindness", or big acts of kindness, but I tried to take the opportunities when they presented themselves. These moments were satisfying in a way that a normal job would not have provided.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Ordinary Rendition: The Public Servants' Quagmire

Media reports about the predicaments of public servants remind me of the passenger who brought my efforts as a taxi driver full-circle.

She started out like most the others: the buzz of a fare offer and "835 yards" as the distance. When the address came through I turned around, turned right, and arrived at the apartment complex in about 4 minutes. I called the provided number. A woman's voice gave directions to a building in the back of the complex.

A group came out; a woman in her 20's got in the cab. An 50-ish male stood outside and gave directions to where his truck was parked. As we pulled away the passenger said, in a flustered voice, “I don't know why he messes with her, she's like 20 years younger...”, and this wasn't the first time they'd had to take a taxi or a bus to get the truck back.

I didn't care, because I was happy to have a longer trip than someone going across the street with groceries. I broke into my standard line of questions.

Before long she asked me her own question: "Did you ever pick a girl up downtown, take her to [West-Valley city], and she wasn't able to pay?"

'I would do that. Let me think.... ... .. .' I glanced at my passenger to jog my memory. Recently: no. Semi-recently: no. Then I remembered, 'THAT WAS A LONG TIME AGO!' I looked at my passenger again, 'Was that... YOU?', and cautiously confirmed that I had.

She said with glee, "THAT WAS ME!"

I remembered her trip well.

Friday, September 22, 2017

America's Make-Work Sheriff: The Anachronism of Joseph Arpaio

The name given to the Arizona Department of Corrections expresses society's hope that we can help people who cause problems for others learn to make better decisions. At some point over my 3.5 year taxi driving career I came to appreciate the harm that is perpetrated on people in the name of "justice", and began to think it more appropriate to call this the "Department of Gratuitous Punishment".

Make-work programs are "jobs that have less immediate financial benefit to the economy than the job costs to support." No one is overtly harmed by make-work programs.

Make-work justice uses the criminal justice system to traumatize people who make mistakes, who get caught in the system through 'circumstances', or for 'doing what they gotta do, to survive'. The usual effect of putting people through the Justice pressure-cooker is not to correct their behavior, but to trap them in a destructive feedback loop that frequently prevents them from ever figuring out how to correct their own behavior.

The deposed-but-still-Notorious Sheriff of Maricopa[Note #1], Joseph Arpaio, branded himself "America's Toughest Sheriff" and instituted a cult of personality around his antics. Really he was a tin-pot attention whore [Note #2] whose greatest skill was attracting media attention and outrage for his actions against politically-disadvantaged groups: depressed people who turn to the street pharmacy to ameliorate their physiological imbalances ("drug addicts"), economic refugees, U.S. citizens who happened to be minorities, etc. He was popular enough to get re-elected a few times, was long under investigation for civil rights violations (costing the county millions for his defense and payments in settlements), and was finally ousted in the 2016 election.

The recently-convicted & pardoned Arpaio was really just a figurehead for the United States' failed approach to helping people 'correct' their problematic behaviors. Other states have justice programs which are just as cruel & ineffective as Joseph Arapaio's brand of make-work justice. These programs don't have a firebrand as a figurehead, so they get a pass from regular media attention.

Justice Trauma: The Predicaments of the Accused and Punished

As told by my passengers...

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Perpetual Quest for Decent Fares

Most taxi fares are short trips. The taxi company's meter started at $2.95; some people's fares only got up to $3.20. The minimum for an insurance-paid trip was $6. It’s hard to make money with a bunch of $6 fares.

Every taxi driver has a strategy for getting large fares. Some drivers will spend hours in certain areas hoping for a 30-mile trip from a resort to the airport. Some will stick to the areas where they’ve gotten lucky before. There are good fares everywhere, so I went to the areas my passengers took me and listened to my intuition.

A friend of mine recently pulled up to a random house in the east valley. The passenger started to bring her bags out. He asked for her destination, so he'd be ready to depart. She was going to Snowflake. My friend was floored: “you know that’s a $300-400 trip, right?” The passenger had been quoted a price by the dispatcher, so she knew what to expect. My friend couldn’t take her because he would have been 2 hours late getting the cab to the night driver. But he transferred the passenger to his friend, who appreciated having a nearly $400 fare.

In my 3.5 years of driving, the best fare I ever had was a trade. It was a relatively short trip. I made out like an bandit.

Saturday, July 30, 2016


The current posts and pages here were originally posted as diaries at (K5). I'd started blogging about my taxi passengers at K5 in March, 2012, after my eighth lease. My original intention was to help me better remember all the interesting people I was meeting. I posted at K5 because I wanted to be anonymous, and was not looking for attention (the site had already shrunk to a skeleton core of users at that time). went down when the site's owner neglected to prepare for when the data center hosting his site moved.

K5 users voted three of my story submissions to the site’s front page, and one to section.

Electronic Taxi Dispatch, v1.0 is about how the taxi company’s pre-smartphone/pre-tablet GPS-enabled computerized dispatch system matched passengers with cabs.

Who Are Your Lifelines? is about the time that I bailed my passenger out of jail. He was a down-on-his-luck tech worker, who could have been anyone. He’d called me because he remembered my phone number.

Humanity’s Second-Best Hope is about the dreadful seasonal job that I had just before I started taxi driving, mixed with some 2012-era political commentary.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

the difference between boys & girls

One night I pulled up to the now-closed 7-11 convenience store near 35th Ave and Thomas. The taxi computer said the passenger's name was Blanca, and did not provide a phone number. A ~20 year old Hispanic woman, whose name was NOT `Blanca', was sitting on the curb. She concluded the sale of her Nintendo Wii to her new friend, who also prepaid me for her taxi fare. The woman got into the cab and we departed towards her destination. After I said a few words, my passenger remembered me and said, "I've had you before." Hmm? "You put your hands on my head."

What? I never do that... Sometimes, when passengers were stressed, I would tell them how to put their own hands on their own heads in a specific manner to help normalize blood flow, thereby helping them process stress better. I briefly looked at my passenger. I remember places not faces, not even faces with distinctive tattoos, and drew a total blank.

"Where did I pick you up?"

"At the Dream C___."

"Where's that?"

"On Grand Avenue."

I still drew a blank. After a bit more of the exchange, the night I'd almost taken this woman somewhere came back to me in a flash. "Oh yeah. How ya doing?"

She was much better - She was proud of having quit meth, and said she just had to kick the blunts and she'd be good.

It'd been about two months since I'd met this woman. Previously she'd been in the middle of an emotional crisis.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Imaginary Workplaces

While reading on the internet recently, I was reminded of a passenger...

The pickup address was at the Mercedes Benz dealership on Scottsdale Rd just north of Frank Lloyd Wright. The passenger was a single gentleman who I estimated to be in his mid-70's. I asked if he'd dropped his car off for service. He said that he'd dropped a car off at the auction, across the street, and was going back to his condo for the other car that he was selling.

One of my standard questions was to ask people if they'd lived in Phoenix all their life. If not, I'd ask how they found their way to the desert. Then I'd just go with my intuition to figure out if this person had something to share that I'd be interested in.

Maybe because he was old, or because I was just a random taxi driver, he told me of some things that younger retirees with security clearances would have never even hinted at.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

electrolytes help people survive the heat

50C (122F) is a a hot day in Phoenix. It's only ever made it to 50C once in the last hundred years, in 1990. We lived in the northern part of the state at the time, but grandparents had a flight that day, so I was present for the record.

Most summers it doesn't get past 49C/120F. Parker and Lake Havasu (along the Colorado River) get slightly warmer. 125F is a hot day in Lake Havasu, 128F is the record. Bullhead City (of Airwolf Helicopter fame), gets up into the mid-120's too. Someone who used to live in Parker told me that the water pipes are very close to the surface, so all their showers were hot showers in the summer.

Poll: heat, humidity, or cold?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Computer Maintenance

When I borked my laptop with the Windows 10 preview this past summer, I was in a bit of a pickle. My Windows Vista desktop was in my ministorage, and even if I got it out, I had no internet but my phone and wifi hotspots. (tl/dr summary of my k5 comment: After the Win10 installer booted, I thought better of experimenting with my only functional computer and clicked 'cancel'. My old Windows 7 install never booted again...)

My father wondered why I supported myself by driving people around in a taxi, when I could certainly have made more "fixing computers". While I'm not a hacker like my cousin, my credentials (degree, expired certifications [CCNA/CCNP], etc) could probably get me a tech support position somewhere. Before I moved back to Arizona, I almost had a job at a community college, and was the only person to recognize one of the items in the box of parts they tested candidates with. Maybe the Taxi company would hire me, if I wanted to be an employee.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Airplane Maintenance

My father had the news on when I went to visit him a few weeks ago. Did you all hear about that Delta flight to NYC that slid off the runway, when it landed in the snow? This reminded me of a pair of passengers.

The later passenger was going home from a neighborhood bar. It came up that he was going to work tomorrow. I offered a guess at his profession, but was not correct - he was an airplane mechanic for Delta.

"Really? Let me tell you about this other passenger..."

A few months earlier I'd pulled up to a condo in a gated community. A woman came out of the house and said to take her to the airport. Then she said that this was her second trip to the airport in a cab that day, and that she hoped that she'd get on a plane to Hawaii that evening, as she only had 9 days to spend with her family there.

She'd gotten on that day's first Hawaiian Airlines plane to the Islands... But the pilots found something in their preflight checks. Hawaiian Air has a maintenance contract with Delta, and the mechanics came over. After a while they all got off the plane to wait in the terminal. The passengers were told that the part their plane needed was in Los Angeles, and to just wait.

My airplane-mechanic-passenger sighed and said, "yeah, THAT plane..."

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Twilight Missile Launch

A few months ago I noticed that my laptop's LCD backlight powered off if I leaned the screen most of the way back. The image was still visible in direct sunlight, there was just no power to light it up. At the start of September I bought an external hard drive, imaged my laptop, then sent the laptop off for repair. It was returned a week later. They'd restored the factory image to my hard drive. I might've preferred otherwise, but at least this takes care of the OS-decay problems I was having. For example, Windows Explorer wouldn't always load the desktop when I first logged in. I'd have to ctrl-alt-del, start the task manager, kill explorer.exe, start explorer.exe, and poof, the desktop would appear.

I've been using Dropbox to back up my taxi notes, and to store my keepass password file. The network-sync feature quickly moved these files across the network to (and from) the loaner-laptop I'd borrowed from my dad.

Yesterday I restored my photo directory from the external drive, and was reminded of one of the cooler things I've seen while out and about in the taxi.

Inside: photo gallery, and the back-story.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Predicaments of Imaginary People

For some time I have quipped when asked for an id, "You're not a real person if you don't have a plastic card." This was mostly to acknowledge the plight of illegal people, but I guess we're all illegal if we can't demonstrate otherwise.

Two fellows were trying to buy beer at the convenience store I visited at the end of my shift today. One had his plastic identification card. The other offered a card decorated with a hole punch. The clerk did not accept it for their beer purchase. This aspiring beer purchaser pulled out a second card, which the clerk examined and also declined because it was expired. I don't know if they ever got their beer, as another clerk appeared to take my gas money.

In the cab was my passenger with his own plastic card dilemma. I met him over a year ago, at the QT on Bell Rd. near Cave Creek Rd. in Phoenix. He'd said someone had stolen his car, and he has been without a plastic card ever since.