• Your life and health are your own responsibility.
• Your decisions to act (or not act) based on information or advice anyone provides you—including me—are your own responsibility.


Taking A Week Off, and How Not To Die (Part 1 of many)

As I mentioned at the end of last week’s article, I’m taking a week off to enjoy the summer holidays—and the ridiculous snowpack here in the Sierras, which has allowed me three days of excellent skiing in July.

I’ll be back on my regular weekly schedule next week, but in the meantime, it is important to not die.

How Not To Die While Slow-Roasting A Pork Shoulder (Also Known As A “Pork Butt”)

Earlier this year, I decided to slow-roast a pork butt overnight in the oven. After it had been in for several hours, and just as I was falling asleep, my carbon monoxide alarm went off.

This carbon monoxide detector most likely saved my life.

This carbon monoxide detector saved my life.

Winters are cold where I live. In order to be energy-efficient, I weatherstrip my doors and seal the drafts under them. And since my living area has good solar gain in the daytime, the forced-air heater often won’t come on until very late at night.

Apparently, in a well-insulated home or apartment, a gas oven can produce dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide in just a few hours. And since I was just getting ready to fall asleep, it is very likely that without a working carbon monoxide alarm just outside my bedroom, I would not have awakened the next morning.

At this point, I feel it appropriate to thank my mother (who insisted I have one) and the Kidde corporation (whose product still functioned correctly, even past the end of its advertised 5-year service life) for saving my life.

And because being alive is important, I strongly recommend that everyone own a carbon monoxide detector.

Yes, you’ll be irritated when it gives you that “low battery” chirp every nine months or so, and you’ll be annoyed that the batteries don’t last nearly as long as those in your smoke detectors.

You’ll also be alive.

You should be able to find carbon monoxide alarms at your local hardware store. However, if you’d like to support gnolls.org, you can buy them through the following Amazon links. (Plus, in my experience, Amazon is cheaper.)

Available models have changed somewhat since I bought mine: the most recent “Nighthawk” models come with a 7-year guarantee and are UL listed. And as a bonus, they come with batteries!

Here’s the basic unit: Kidde KN-COB-B-LS Carbon Monoxide Alarm. $23 as of this writing.

And here’s the next model up, which has a digital display that shows the actual CO level: Kidde KN-COPP-B-LS Carbon Monoxide Alarm. $35 as of this writing.

(Note that natural gas or propane heater malfunctions can also result in carbon monoxide poisoning, even if you have electric appliances. And a wood or pellet stove can get you if the flue clogs or the vents leak.)

How Not To Die While Riding A Mountain Bike

During the early season, there are often trees down on the trail—especially after spring storms.

Just a few days ago, I was riding a trail for the first time this year. In the middle of a fast and overgrown section with poor sight lines, I suddenly encountered a small fallen tree, whose sharp, splintered end was aimed directly at my chest.

Impaled On A Tree (almost)

If I had been going fractionally faster, or been paying less attention, this would have had my corpse stuck to the end of it.

I don’t think I’ve ever stopped a bicycle quite that fast—and the sharp end still ripped my glove and cut my fingers as it pushed past, stopping about four inches from my heart.

The moral of this story: Don’t override your line of sight, even on a familiar trail. And always keep your braking system properly adjusted and maintained. Someday you may need every last Newton of force it can provide.

Live in freedom, live in beauty.



Permalink: Taking A Week Off, and How Not To Die (Part 1 of many)
  • abby

    Well I for one am glad you’re still alive, as I’ve been really enjoying your blog. Stay safe and enjoy your vacation!

  • somachristou

    Duuude, glad you “lucked” out and can continue your interesting and informative posts.

    But of definite significance, you actually used the word “awakened” instead of “woken up”.

    Kudos, bro, and I mean it.

  • Elenor

    Whew! You certainly live in “interesting times.” Glad you’re doubly okay!!

  • Abby:

    Thanks!  I'll be back.


    I'm a writer.  It's important to know how to use language correctly.  Thanks for noticing.


    “Who wants a world in which the guarantee that we shall not die of starvation entails the risk of dying of boredom?” -Raoul Vaneigem

  • Lucky! Are you sure gnolls are not related to cats at well? Seriously, glad you stopped short of that. Enjoy your holiday.

  • Honora Renwick

    I can relate to the carbon monoxide poisoning close call. 30 years ago I shared a well sealed room in Saint Catherine monastery near Mt Sinai with 10 others. We had a gas heater going for warmth. Fortunately we got up at 4am to climb the mountain. There was so little oxygen in the room that we couldn’t light a candle until someone opened the door.

    Here in New Zealand, the houses are notoriously well-ventilated so carbon monoxide poisoning isn’t too common.

  • Asclepius

    Glad to see you are one step ahead of the Reaper!

  • Mike

    Glad you are still alive!

  • Paul:

    Hyenas are in the Feliformia, so they're more closely related to cats than dogs (as are, therefore, gnolls)…though their closest relative is actually the mongoose.


    That's a close call indeed…probably you had both the CO2 and the CO thing going with 10 people and a gas heater.

    Mike, Asclepius:

    Thanks for the well-wishes.  When I look back on my life, I can see a number of instances where I was either a few feet or a few fractions of a second away from dying.  Hazrah nachti: I'm still alive.


  • pieter d

    That broken tree would have made a great paleo death, though! But still, glad you’re still here. Really like the site and liked the book!

  • Spit-roast Stanton?

    What? He's the one who keeps encouraging me to eat my fat colleagues' livers Surprised

  • pieter:

    Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed The Gnoll Credo!  It's always good to hear from my readers, especially those outside the USA.  I think you may be the first Belgian gnoll.

    As far as “paleo death”, Line 11: “Nobly dead is dead.”


    I am tough, stringy, and unpalatable.  Grain-fed humans are fatty and tender.


  • Admit it: your eyes were on Gryka’s back, not the trail.

  • Rob:

    Gnoll butt isn't attractive unless you're a male gnoll.


  • I wasn’t implying that you were admiring her… just chasing. When playful, isn’t the chase a mock hunt?

  • Never play with a gnoll. Besides, you haven't seen what's hanging between her legs! The loincloth only covers from the front 😮

  • Rob:

    I wasn't following her, or I would have seen her dodge the tree!


    Gnolls are great playmates, as long as you don't mind getting your butt kicked and probably needing stitches.  They're still subject to natural selection and the weak ones get weeded out quickly.


  • Taking A Week Off, a

    […] Off, and How Not To Die (Part 1 of many) September 10, 2011By: J. Stanton Read the Full Post at: GNOLLS.ORG As I mentioned at the end of last week’s article, I’m taking a week off to enjoy the […]

  • Taking A Week Off, a

    […] Off, and How Not To Die (Part 1 of many) September 10, 2011By: J. Stanton Read the Full Post at: GNOLLS.ORG As I mentioned at the end of last week’s article, I’m taking a week off to enjoy the […]

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