Breathing easier thanks to doctors

This column appeared in The Herald-Sun in January 2014:

It’s not that I hate doctors. Most of them seem like perfectly fine people.

But I’m almost certain you’d never hear me utter anything like what my wife told the dental receptionist over the phone the other day:

“Wes would love to see you at 11.”

“Love” isn’t a word I splurge on teeth cleanings.

Sure, I might “agree” to see you at 11. I will “satisfy the contractual obligation implied by the appointment.” But I haven’t met a medical appointment that I “liked,” let alone “loved.”

In the past week or so, I’ve spent more time than I prefer among doctors.

The routine trip to the dentist came just a couple of days after I visited another medic for a sinus infection that absolutely floored me over the weekend, turning what should have been relaxing days off into a restless blur of steaming showers, chicken broth and facial tissue.

I don’t mess around when it comes to respiratory illnesses. Not since I got pneumonia in college at the University of South Florida. Before that rude awakening, I’d been immortal. Nothing could hold me back.

I didn’t take care of myself when the cold hit while I was working at the USF college newspaper.

I kept working through the nights on a wretched fantasy novel as bronchitis took hold.

I wandered the streets of Ybor City during Guavaween, hacking and wheezing.

When my friend Jeff performed a monologue at Eckerd College that I’d written for him, I watched in phlegm-choked misery from the nosebleeds.

Creative genius would trump modern medicine, I reasoned.

Or maybe not.

I remember shivering on the mattress in my dorm, calling home to tell my mother that I should probably, maybe – finally – see a doctor.

And so I had pneumonia.

He told me that if I had waited any longer, I would have ended up in the hospital. As it was, I spent a week in bed, drinking fluids when I wasn’t sleeping. For at least a month after, thanks to the strain of violent coughing, I sounded like Froggie in “The Little Rascals.”

The doctor said I’d be susceptible to lung ailments for the rest of my life.

No, I’m not a fan of going to the doctor.

But I will say this: I’m glad they’re around when I need them and I’m grateful to live in an age when a handful of pills and some nose spray, taken per the doctor’s instructions, means a sickness is short-lived.

Take care of yourself too.

Wes Platt can be reached at or 919-419-6684. Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at

Meanwhile, an update…

Now that the holidays are behind us and The War of the Weavers arc is wrapping up, I’m doodling on my to-do list, just to keep everyone apprised of what I’ve got on my radar, including potential timetables:

* “Weavers” conclusion, hopefully this weekend, with an in-game event aboard the Galaxy Galleria (accessible via automated shuttle in the Ancient Expanse).

* Construction of Leucohoyle’s customized ship. Long overdue, just need to find the time. Hoping to get this finished next week at the latest.

* Crafting revamp. I’ll probably start tinkering with this in earnest in early to mid-February. Mostly, I just need to sort out what stays and what goes in the crafting chain and accordingly adjust SP costs for various items. Will seek feedback from the math gurus in-game about those final costs once I come up with the new proposed architecture for the system.

Got questions about any of these things? Feel free to pose them in the comments.

Another benefit of play-by-post

As we get closer and closer to the conclusion of our War of the Weavers forum story arc experiment, it occurs to me that there’s another decent benefit of running major events like this in a format that’s unmoored from the rapid-fire nature of real-time RP.

A complaint I’ve heard in the past, especially in large-group activities in real-time events run by a single referee, is that some people pose actions or dialogue that get lost in the shuffle. Text scrolls off the screen as the scene rolls along. Refs try to catch what they can, when they can, but I admit that I’ve missed my fair share. Sometimes players call me on it and I’m able to loop back around to them. But sometimes they get frustrated and simply take it as another sign the admins have it in for them.

With the forums, the pace is much more manageable and it is virtually impossible for the ref to miss a scene participant’s contribution.

Furthermore, from the ref’s perspective, it’s actually nice to have some time and space to deliberate over the next scene pose, the next potential plot twist, instead of trying to cram it all into a two-hour session.

Worrying about the storms we can’t track

This column appeared in The Herald-Sun in January 2014:

I was almost finished building the new toy box for John Michael last Saturday when our smartphones buzzed about a tornado warning in Durham.

Soon, we found out that – although it’s not a comfortable fit for all involved – it’s possible to cram two adults, a baby and a nervous Great Pyrenees into our downstairs guest bathroom.

The storm blew through quickly enough, I’m happy to say. We just had a few limbs knocked down by the wind; nothing major.

But we were ready for that crisis. We knew it was coming.

It’s the storms we can’t track on radar that really worry me most, though.

A hair-trigger motorist just looking for a reason to rage. A troubled youth driven inexplicably to kill his classmates in school. A man stymied by the legal system, afraid of losing custody of his child, waving a gun around a public square.

Or an ex-cop apparently so gung-ho about movie previews that he’ll shoot someone over texting.

The incident in Florida, in which retired Tampa police officer Curtis Reeves is accused of shooting Chad Oulson, struck especially close to home for me. The theater where it happened is smack dab in the middle of territory I used to cover for the newspaper. Oulson, the man who died, was just a few years younger than me.

Both men were in the theater with their wives to watch an afternoon showing of the Mark Wahlberg movie, “Lone Survivor.”

Officials say Oulson was texting his 3-year-old daughter during the previews when Reeves, 71, confronted him and then left the theater, presumably to complain to a manager. When Reeves returned, the men exchanged more words and Oulson allegedly threw popcorn at Reeves.

Police say Reeves shot and killed Oulson in response.

Over the years, I’ve grown quite leery of watching movies at the cinema unless it’s a movie that really begs to be seen on the big screen. Originally, it was the rising ticket costs and the insane concession charges that turned me off. Then came the people chatting around me like it was their own living room. And then the texting and the phone calls.

Now I’ve got to worry that I’ll somehow offend an unbalanced guy in the next row and turn into target practice?

We might be better off hunkering down in that guest bathroom, watching movies on Netflix while we
wait for people to flip their friendly switches back on.

Problem is, I think we’d be in for a long wait.

Wes Platt can be reached at or 919-419-6684. Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at