Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Let's Review StewMade Guitars of 2008 and 100th Post.

Well this ends the year and this marks my 100th blog entry! Wow, only 100? It seems like more for some reason.

I'm so ready for a "Do Over" in 2009. 2008 marks a year of a series of unfortunate events. Rather than imagining Baby New Year passing by Father Time 2008, I imagine a teenage New Year thug kicking the crap out of 2008. I want to thank Switch to Plan B and Epic Beat for being there for me, just to listen to me, while I worked through many issues that came up this year. Not to mention Epic's patience with me while dealing with my hand issues for worship services.

So rather than rehash out a year in review for me, I would rather reflect on what was accomplished in the StewMade shop. I set out to build about 3 guitars this year and with hopes of squeezing out maybe an additional one. Turns out it was a different combination of the three.


The 70's Muscle Car Guitar. Really happy with this one. I got the vibe I was after. It really sounded nice and was very comfortable to play. Unfortunately, the guy who bought my last two guitars bought this one as well. He seems to be buying up all of my guitars rather than letting me send out my babies into the world to be enjoyed by all. I think secretly he was hired by Fender to purchase my guitars and destroy them upon delivery (LOL).

I keep getting hits on this blog regarding the Muscle Car Guitar so I might build about two next year. I'll probably still go with Sublime Green and possibly Plum Crazy. I dunno.


Mark's J-5 Signature Bass. Really nice bass and my first 5 string build. This wins the "eye candy" award for Stewmade this year. The wood grain just popped off of the guitar and just looks stunning when stage lights hit it.

I took a leap of faith and used a local guy, Carey Nordstrand from Yucaipa. He uses a scatter wound technique and I guess has a machine that simulates the hand tension winding process. Many feel that this process is what really makes a pickup stand out more, in a good way. There is much talk that the reason why early Fender pickups sound so good is because they were hand guided onto the pickup bobbin (spool) in a random (scatter) fashion. The tension was also "felt" as the pickup is being wound, something modern winding machines lack; the human factor. I subscribe to this theory only because I've compared the two and there is a noticable difference, to my ears.

Anyway, I was really impressed by the tone of these pickups. Relatively quiet yet had that great classic J bass growl. I would really like to include another bass for 2009.


Fall Leaves Guitar. This guitar was made a bit late to capitalize on the fall season. I had this guitar body that was to be another Beach Scene Guitar. The body had been lying around, getting in the way of things. I couldn't come up with a third beach design when I was curious if I could maybe carve something other than surfboards and tide pools. Plus I'm such a sucker for the fall season and have always wanted to build something that just made you feel like it was fall.

So with the same "what the heck" ambition, I sketched out some leaves and started cutting. Once I started, I realized I was in for some major work. I couldn't just stop, I had to finish what I started. I studied countless images of leaves; the way they curled up at the ends without compromising the construction of the guitar.

This guitar was not planned out until the last minute. But now that it's done, I think I got it close to what I pictured. So far I've faced much criticism on my choice of colors and wood choices. But I guess that comes along with any art form.

The guitar is lightweight and I used my friend Tommy to finish the neck for me this time. I was very impressed. The neck is a satin finish which feels really smooth and friction free.

Also, I choose pickups by Jason Lollar; "Blondes". Let me explain for you folks who are now wondering why "blondes" (WARNING, HEAVY ELECTRONIC GEEK CONTENT! SCROLL PAST THIS PARAGRAPH IF NECESSARY). Jason, like Carey, makes his pickups hand scatter wound. But Jason voices each of his pickups with the amplifier in mind. During Fender guitars Strat history, there were different amp coverings in relation to the time the amplifiers were manufactured; early 50's tweed amps, early 60's blonde tolex/vinyl amps, and the mid 60's black tolex amps (also known as blackface amps due to the color of the amp's black control panel). So Jason matches the output and specs according to what the guitars were being played through at that time. If all there was available to play in the late 50's was a tweed Fender Bassman amp, then your guitars of that same era didn't have much bass response since you got that tonal aspect from the amplifier. So theoretically, if you play a real 1956 Strat through one of today's modern amplifiers, it would sound a little on the thin, treble side. So if I typically play through a very bassy sounding amp, then Jason would recommend using the Tweed or Blonde pickups. But if I have a '65 Fender Deluxe or Twin amp, then the Blackface pickups would sound better based on the amp voicing. Dig?

Under Construction!
As far as the Orange Crate Guitar is concerned, I'll be working on this pretty heavily to meet my Spring '09 deadline. I hit a road block in one element regarding weight and stability. But I think I worked it out. And yes, this will even smell like oranges when I'm done. HA! What other guitar manufactured today can say that?!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Confusing December!

PC282326

So I guess since the weather is just now getting colder, our maples and liquid amber trees are just starting to turn fall colors. Yet in the distance, there is evidence of large amounts of snow in our mountains. Just seems kind of strange to see this late in December. Usually this time of year, all the leaves have turned color and fallen.

PC282323

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas: Presents Over in 30 Minutes!

Allison has finally passed out from Christmas joy. Our new kitten looks on as Allison snoozes.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Yet Another Look Alike Sighting.

I guess now I know what I'll look like in about 10 years. This is the Italian football manager and professional player Fabio Capello. I say it's the glasses that does it. It's weird looking to the future. Thanks for the comparison YouTube viewers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another Unsung Hero of Christmas.

Sure you've heard stories of those who were overlooked. The 5th Beatle, the reindeer with the red nose. But did you ever hear the story about the 4th wise man?

There once was a wise man from India. His name was Paruhm Pa'Pumpum. He was visiting that night in the West end of Jerusalem, the night of the Christ child's birth. Paruhm could not help but to notice the very bright star in the East.

In Paruhm's amazement at this star, three wise men carrying gifts passed him. He asked the three men, where they were going with such fine gifts. "We were told by King Herod that the King of the Jews has been born this night, in Bethlehem. We were told that we shall find the child if we follow the star."

Paruhm wanted to join the wise men, but they stopped him. "What can you possibly give the King?" they asked. "I have my drum to play" said Paruhm Pa'Pumpum.

"We have gold, frankincense and myrrh as our gifts. Drums are too loud for such a small child. You shall be a disturbance" the men said. "And besides, there is only room for each of us on our three camels." This refusal saddened Paruhm.

Shortly after the men left Paruhm Pa'Pumpum, a group of angels appeared. After some confusion as to whether or not the star turned into three separate angels, Paruhm realised that the angels were sent to give him a message. "You too are to come and worship a saviour, he is Christ the Lord. Come" they told him.

So Paruhm traveled by foot by the light of the star all they way to Bethlehem. By that time, the three wise men had already visited the small child lying in the manger among lambs and oxen. Paruhm was overwhelmed with joy when he viewed the small baby. Although he had nothing that could compare with the precious metals and oils that the three wise men offered, Paruhm offered to play a song on his drum. "Shall I play for Him?" said Paruhm Pa'Pumpum. Mary nodded yes and he played his best for Him. The Baby Jesus smiled at Paruhm while he played his drum like he'd never played before.

It's sad how unsung heroes of yore often fall by the wayside. An attempt to acknowledge Paruhm was written in a song around 1958. But because of the powers to keep this historic person hidden from the history books, it was rewritten to hide his name within the song. Disguised as a drum rhythm, Paruhm's name is still unknown and has yet to recognized by the world.


Ok, actually this story was inspired by a student at work. We were listening to Christmas music when "The Little Drummer Boy" came on. The student laughed and told us that when he was a small boy, he wanted to know who Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum was. His mother never told him. He never knew the song was sounding out a drum rhythm. So I started thinking, wouldn't it be strange if there was actually a fourth wise man that never made it into the history books. I just thought I'd write a funny fictional story about this idea. Of course I kept imagining the voice of Khalil, for Paruhm. (The caterpillar from "Jonah, The Movie" from Veggie Tales).

Guitar Plans for 2009.

Working on them at the moment. I may be introducing some main stream guitars, a signature series for an un-named musician. I'll be finishing up the "Fall Leaves" guitar (a little late) and the Orange Crate guitar.

As far as goofy one-offs, I'm working on an idea that's sort of left field; The 70's Appliance Guitar. Yeah, stew on that for awhile. It should look really nasty when it's finished. If your imagination takes you to where you think I'm going, then you've already got the concept. Possibly due out in March or April of '09. I can't decide on a Jazzmaster style or Strat style. Most likely Jazzmaster style since there's more body color shown on that. I'm having to order the color special from Dupont.

More ideas to come.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Reflections of 4 Decades.

Today, on my 44th birthday, I'm lying in bed reflecting on the past 4 decades of my life (deep, I know!).

1968: I'm turning 4 years old on this date and living with my Mom in an apartment in Rialto, CA. At that time, I was totally unaware of what I mother struggled through in order to make a life for me. This being a short year after the divorce of my parents, I still don't ever remember feeling down or unhappy. I remember my grandmother's fiancé dying in a helicopter crash that year, but still not really having any real feelings of life struggles or anything like that.

One thing I do remember, was when I attended a Christian Day Care/Pre-school. It was a church that doubled as a nursery school and kindergarten. Besides sprinkling playground sand on my head and groovin' on the feeling when I'd massage it around my scalp (me an Quintin), I remember looking up to the San Bernardino Mountains and actually believing that was Heaven. I would stare at the mountain crest and imaging people walking around with sheep and wearing biblical robes and sandals. In those days it was so clear you could actually see the pine trees at the tops of the mountain from Rialto.

1978: Today I'm 14 and attending junior high. Strange time for me. I'm just getting into guitar playing. I'm taking lessons at a local music store once a week, handing over Molly Hatchet albums over to my instructor who effortlessly takes 3 minutes to listen to the song I want, then jots down the music for me to learn. I was amazed by this.

I'm in love with Kim Delo who was my Marcia Brady to me. First girl to actually have the nerve to call on the phone. She was nice enough to keep me interested and to keep my gifts coming (bought her some earrings for Christmas, but that was not enough to win her over as girlfriend status).

That summer, I remember learning how to water-ski with my stepfather. We got along really well during these years, unless I really blew it with school grades, which I struggled with at this time.

1988: It's been little over a year since my break up with a 4 year relationship. Now turning 24, I have just met the most amazing girl in my life, I'm living in my own apartment in Redlands, CA, and I have a steady job which I keep moving up the ladder. Longest job I've ever had (ha, one year).

But since November of '88, I can't get this girl out of my mind. I have to see her everyday. We're leaving mushy voice messages on each other's answering machines.I remember thinking at this time that I was glad to get out of my home in the mountains and be on my own. Parents were treating me decent now and not getting on my case for everything I did. At least that what I remember thinking at that age.

1998: Age 34 and I've been working at my current job for 4 years now. We've been living in our current house for 1 year now. I've been married for 8 years, have a 4 year old daughter and now earlier this year, have a new addition to the family, my daughter Libby. Allison is quite the talker and full of energy and crazy off the wall comments. This year becomes a challenge to provide equal time for both girls, making sure Allison does not feel like she's second best now that there's a new baby in the house.

Oh yeah, and I got my first Fender Custom Shop Relic this year! I'm playing occasionally with a band that's primarily made of police officers. It's good money and I really enjoy playing out in public. Lots of fundraisers and benefits which would usually equal about $150 for me that night.Had a '94 Fender Blues Deluxe amp.

At this year, it's the pivotal moment that I start considering building my own guitars and what begins as my Fender Replica building stage. It's that Custom Shop Relic that inspires me to see if I can build something similar.

2008: Tough year, probably the toughest up to date. Lots of tragedies, family, friends, work, just too numerous to mention here. This year has probably troubled me the most. This year will be an adjustment for every holiday to come. There has been no escape. It came from every direction.

My family has really been my anchor and refuse for me this year. Usually I would turn to my music to get away from everything. But with my hand issues, I've felt like that was taken away from me too. Can't spend money (which I like to do to get my mind off of stuff), can't drink (too much) because that could develop into something more serious. And going to church which used to be my second sanctuary reopens my frustration to not be apart of my ministry, playing in services.

Flip side, our home addition was finished, and that means that everyone is happy with their own rooms. No more fights over bathrooms. I've been blogging a little over a year now. It's been very therapeutic for me. It's a little known fact that after blogging about a difficult time or frustrating moment, that I feel like I've had a huge weight lifted off of me. We have a new kitten which we can't seem to name. But it's been really fun to have a cat that's fun again. We haven't experienced that since our old cat Emerson was young (died in 2006).

Building guitars doesn't seem to hurt my hands. So that's going well. I've got a whole bunch of ideas planned for 2009.But I have hope for age 44. Other than my hand and back, I'm generally healthy. I've had my flu shots (we'll see how that pans out). And my plans are to start working out, eating better....after the holidays!

Today, I'll go to church, look over a friend's new Tele, have brunch, go to Color Me Mine and relax the rest of the day...while doing some laundry.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

New Obsession: Fender J. Mascis Jazzmaster



Well I blew it again and missed out on winning the auction of my old '87 Fender Strat Plus. I guess the original owner will never reunite again. So I've sold off a few Stewmade guitars to finally obsess over this gem, the Fender J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr. fame) purple sparkle Jazzmaster. It's like the Jaguar except it's got bigger single coil pickups and is 25" scale. I've heard that the pickups are garbage on this model but that can be fixed easily with some Lollar Jazzmaster pickups. Prince would be envyous.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Muscle Car Guitar, Sublime Green; Lots of Traffic.

Ok I'm noticing a lot of hits on this site for my Muscle Car Guitar that I made earlier this summer. I ended up selling this guitar rather quickly. I can't help but to feel the need to produce more of these based on my hits regarding this guitar.

If you are interested, please contact me, even just for feedback. I'm planning on offering the other 70's Mopar colors as well; Vitamin C Orange, Plum Crazy and possibly even Viper Snakeskin Green Pearlcoat!

stew@stewmadeguitars.com

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sorry, Nothing To Blog.

I guess you feel free to comment about whatever you want for now. I'm pretty happy with this month's Shag header. I dread the month I run out of themes.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ok, This Is Just Creepy!

Three people have approached me and claim that I look like Ralph Covert. You be the judge. It's scary to me.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Visited My College Roommate/Bandmember, John, and Walked Away With Some Insight.


John's studio at Magic Box Music, north view

So I drove down to L.A. to visit my college roommate John Sponsler. We have not seen or talked to each other in 21 years. I found John by doing a Google search as well as searching on MySpace. Luckily his sons set up a MySpace for John as a gag.


Same studio, south view

John looks the same as he did back in '87. A little older, a little wiser. We talked about recording, film scores, movie trailer tracks, old bands, family and so on. It was like those 21 years had never passed. We got along just as well as we did back as roommates and band members.

John is the co-owner of a company called Magic Box Music which does movie trailer music, commercials, and movie scores. John has worked with John Williams, Hans Zimmer and Trevor Rabin in addition to many others.

His studio is very streamlined and comfortable while a set of french doors opens up into a spacious area as a getaway from all things brain clouding. He was currently working on tracks that were recorded last week. The recordings were made via cable hookup between his studio and a recording studio in Prague, Czech Republic. Between a live video feed, orchestra translator and mp4 transfer, and some software that syncs the signal to recording real time, it was as if the orchestra and choir were performing in the next room. John never had to leave his studio or even make a flight out of the country. This event took a few weeks to coordinate and although John had to record this event between the hours of 12:00 AM to 8:00 AM (in Prague it was 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM) John seems to be pretty happy with the results.

After catching up, John and I headed off to lunch where we discussed our new common interest, Jesus Christ. When I say new, it's because we were not believers the last time we were together. John's been a believer since the early 90's, I became a believer in 2003.


(My first Cops in Concert gig. L-R; Ricky, John, Diane, Larry, Tim, and me....with a mustache, click on image.)

After talking for a good 45 minutes, I could clearly see how much John has grown in his faith. Out of nowhere in the early 90's while John was a parking lot security guard for the set of "Tales From The Crypt", John took it upon himself to read the Bible from front to back. From start to finish, John read about 6 hours a day without worry of critisism from passing celebrities.

All of John's connection with Christ came while there was no encouragement of other believers. In fact, John was alone in his beginning journey with Christ, no fellowship, nobody to ask questions to difficult passages. I was at the edge of my seat listening to how God started working on John. It would take literally paragraphs to explain what John went through to get where he is today. His story is incredible yet inspiring.

John in addition to recording amazing trailer music and movie scoring, (National Treasure, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Matrix, Memoirs of a Geisha, commercials for Scion, etc) he also is a worship leader in his outreach Saturday services. He had some great insight regarding worship music and those who come to critique rather than worship and celebrate God's love (I'll have to share some great advice for Epic Beat.)

This meeting with John was much needed right now in my life. I have been feeling like such a fraud in my own faith. I've been pushing God away from my life out of frustration and for selfish reasons. I have not been understanding God's plan or timing with the events that have occurred in my life this year.

During the whole ride home from John's studio, my mind kept recalling John's enthusiasm for God's love, God's plan for us, and how I need to allow His love to work into my life. John totally gets it. John was more than happy to express in detail God's patience, awesomeness, and His truth to me. It's a level that I have been scared to reach.

So John and I were about to leave the restaurant when he says, "I had this feeling you were a believer". I don't in any way think that this reunion was about a get together among friends. This was meant to be God's drop-kick to the butt for me. "Wake Up, I Love You, allow me to work in your life again. -perceived lesson quote from The JC."


Stew, October 1987, right after disbanding with John and Voyager.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Missing This.

I'm really starting to miss weekends at The Grove. Haven't been going much mostly due to my work schedule. But I've removed myself from the Worship Team because of my hand issues. I won't go into more boring details about my current hand problems but it does bum me out about not being able to play guitar at all.

Going to church and seeing my friends onstage feels a little like watching 9 people open up presents while you're not allowed to open yours, or not able to actually. I miss the fellowship, I miss the connection with my faith through music.

Despite all my efforts to get better, it seems as though God has something else for me or is allowing me to endure some process in order to enable my growth in this area of my life. A shift in focus?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Music Appreciation. Sam Brown.

Talk about a risky performance. Electrical instruments and rain? Notice how her makeup starts to run halfway through the performance. Plus, watch the water fly whenever the drummer hits the cymbals. Nice vocals.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I Hate Seeing My Old Guitar Up On Ebay!

Just out of a random search for an '87 Surf Green Strat Plus, I find this auction....the guy who bought my Strat Plus earlier this year! It was like catching my ex-girlfriend dating another guy. Really hit me in the gut.

But hey, if I hadn't sold this Strat, I would not have my Master built Jaguar that was built just for me. The Strat was made for the masses. Plus I'm a little pissed he's selling it for more that I got for my auction after being told I wouldn't get anymore than the winning bid. Plus the auction was won by a mistake that had made. But that's water under the bridge though. Like I said, I have my CS Jag now.But I'll be honest with you, after getting my MB Jag, I'm already thinking about having Dennis build me a Custom Shop version of my old '87 Strat Plus, in Surf Green. I'll have a tough choice deciding which child to sell off to a Malaysian child labor sweat factory. ;0)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Orange Crate And "Fall Leaves" Might Be Finished By November '08.


Looks like both guitars might be finished by November. I have no idea what to call my carving guitar so I'll just refer to it as "Fall Leaves" guitar. Looks like I got both guitars mixed up in seasons; Orange for Fall and the Fall might be ready for Spring?
By the way, that's not supposed to be a moldy leaf on that corner section of the guitar. That's a mistake that I haven't cleaned up yet.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My Youngest Wants To Play Sax!

My youngest daughter comes home from school today and she said the school's music teacher made a presentation to their class regarding band. He was listing all the different instruments that they offer for starting players. They talked about where to rent or buy, what was the best price, what's the easiest to start on.

So she wants to either try the clarinet or saxophone. The clarinet would be cheaper and easier to learn on, but the sax might have more uses but costs more. Hmmm. Pretty cool. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Called Into DA's Office To Discuss My Last Blog.

Don't worry, everything is cool. I managed to avoid any red flags like actual names, locations, facility name, exact situations have been changed around. There was some concern that I might actually start "opening up" more on future blogs. As an administrator, you can't really condone this sort of stuff, but I could tell they could understand my plight.

I guess I was venting (ha, you think?) a little since it seems so hard to be viewed as a professional in an overwhelming low opinion of your position.

I mean, nobody says they want to grow up to be an x-ray tech, right. Patients are usually at their worst when they've had to sit in traffic, maybe leave their work early to pick up their injured kid at school, or just having to wait forever in our waiting rooms. So yesterday being the day after a holiday (also our busiest days), there were more occurances than usual. And I guess all experiences of being put down, insulted and made the cause of whatever error, came to a head yesterday.

Ok, I'm a little freaked out that two techs now read my blog. Won't THEY be disappointed when they find out it has more music and guitar building topics than anything else x-ray related. Hey you two, if you look up "art" in my TOPIC LINKS. You'll get to scroll down and see a cool heat map enhanced KUB I snapped. And please tell me that you're NOT digital. We're still using Dynasonics (Dino-sonics).

Did some research today and found that the physician who blamed me for taking the wrong views, actually was referring to the nurse who ordered the initial exam. She said, "oh, they did the wrong part" meaning nurse. The patient took "they" as x-ray's fault.

I guess compared to what doctors go through, I should tolerate the lack of respect. In other words, be happy I can just "shoot and scoot" a patient (a crude term for taking an exam and then sending them on their way). I don't have to answer to the patient if their meds didn't work or that surgery made their pain worse. The only rath I feel is from my radiologists (physicians who are trained to read and dictate diagnostic studies).

Many would think, "You still get paid the same, why let it bother you?" I guess when I trained to become a Radiology Technologist, I thought I was getting into a field where everyone contributes as a whole team unit. Like a Verizon Wireless network all standing together backing up the little nerdy guy with glasses, except with a lab coat, oxford shirt, slacks, wing-tip shoes, stethoscope hanging around his neck, clipboard in his hands with a big thumbs up. You know, all working together to help out who matters most, the patient. On the surface, from a patient's perspective, I'm sure it all looks like we're a team, but it's all blue team against the red team behind the scenes. To me it's very high school and petty. And no matter how crummy any staff is at any level, I'm still killing them with kindness, a smile on my face and still willing to go out of my way for any of them. Who knows, I may just convert everybody's opinion....one person at a time. I'm even getting some Urgent Care nurses to actually wave at me when we pass by NICU.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Hero vs The Fall Guy (Big X-ray Rant).

X-ray techs seem to be the fall guy when it comes to mistakes. It's aways X-ray's fault. When ever every upper level area of expertise messes up, it was always "X-ray". When we go up stairs to do a portable X-ray, we screw up the sheets, we mess with the I.V.'s, move the heart monitor leads around, and never put the bed back in the proper position. It's like how the jocks and cheerleaders view the drama department and band geeks (I am in no way saying that our doctors and nurses resemble jocks and cheerleaders, and hey!, drama and band is an important form of self expression!)

We are the most disrespected part of the whole medical community. It's true. There was a study made about 7 years ago that a fellow X-ray tech, now an ER Physician's Assistant who showed me a study regarding a survey asking all levels from top surgeon's, physician's, and nurses. Radiology Technologists were rated as the lowest respected in the field, lower than janitorial staff.

I find this interesting because if it weren't for x-ray, many diagnosis would never be discovered. Without X-ray, how would you know if you, a doctor, had placed a broken bone back to it's proper position (post reduction), a P.I.C.C line in it's proper place, making sure your hardware pins are going directly into the fractured bone for a hip pinning? Kidney stones, bone erosions, calcifications, bone malignancies, colon cancer, brain cancer, brain bleeds, subluxation of the cervical spine, scoliosis (degree of curvature), Calve Perthe's disease, displasia, growth plate fractures, radiculopathy, dislocations, foreign bodies, cardiomegaly, degree of severity of fractures (either trauma or pathological), pneumothorax, hemothorax, heel spurs vs plantar fasciitis, osteophytes, osteoma's, Osgood Schlatter's disease, nurse maid's elbow, osteoporosis, COPD, CHF, pleural effusion. I don't list pneumonia because I think some physicians can diagnose pneumonia without an x-ray. That's what the stethoscope is for, right? Or is that just the universal badge that says, "I'm a doctor"?

I'm not sure what reputations past X-ray techs have bestowed upon us but we are the filter for other people's mistakes. Today, I got an order for a wrist. Performed the x-ray and sent the patient back to the doctor. One hour later, the patient returns with another order. The Mom insists on coming into the exam room this time. She has been informed by the head UC physician that WE took the wrong views on the first visit. The new orders were for a hand x-ray. No matter how much I tried to convince the patient that I did exactly what was ordered, she accused me of trying to get out of my incompetent mistake because doctors don't make mistakes like that, only underachieving x-ray techs. Like I just sit here and pick whatever body part to x-ray.

To many people's surprise, x-ray orders are like prescriptions; you can only do what's ordered. All the time I get, "Hey, my shoulder hurts too. Could you take one of my shoulder also? CALL MY DOCTOR TO HAVE HIM ADD IT!" We have more than 50 doctors working in the building and sometimes they all send just one patient to us. When we have to stop and call to do one of these "add-ons", it puts the breaks on our operation, making all other patients checked in wait even longer.

I am bound by law to perform an x-ray to the exact request ordered by a physician. Only physician's order x-rays....sort of. The problem is, we have nurses that order the x-rays for the doctors before the doctor see the patient. So the nurse makes a guess as to what orders to make and promptly send them to x-ray. We get orders like hand & thumb, wrist & hand, foot & ankle, foot and toes. We cannot pick and choose which order best fits the patient's needs. If your pinky toe was injured and they order a full foot, then you're entire foot gets "nuked". So that's what happened today: nurse thought the wrist needed to be x-rayed, has no real knowledge of anatomy, doctor sees the patient finds out it's actually his entire metacarpals are the area of interest and sends them back to x-ray. The mistake? Physician makes the X-ray tech the idiot, because x-ray always messes up, right?

In my training as a tech, we went over countless anatomy training, pathology training, alternative methods of getting the most out of an exam even when you get a patient for an abdomen who's in the shape of a pretzel. When I received my Radiology license, I made a vow to do the best I can for the patient, always have the patient's best interest and to maintain the responsibility to uphold radiation safety by limiting the amount of radiation dose to every patient regardless of age. That is out the window when it comes to patients who demand X-rays for sore throats and blood blisters. Exams like an 85 year old woman for knee x-rays to rule out arthritis......You think? Geez, if you own a mirror and can read the birth date on your driver's license, then I'm betting you already know the answer to that.

Doctors don't have time these days to explain and educate misled patients regarding the necessity for x-rays. There are doctors that feel that ordering these exams help give the patients a peace of mind. Sometimes if a persistent patient asks for an x-ray, they'll get it, just to shut them up. It works. Even though that toothpick won't show up on an x-ray, or that Dorito that you swear is still stuck in your throat, or that cat bite that didn't even break the skin. Hello people, you just nuked yourself for no reason because those things don't show up on an x-ray!

X-ray techs must be known for lying a lot too. We have nothing better to do than make up some story in order to get out of doing our job. Regardless if an Urgent Care patient is going back to..well, Urgent Care, I always ask if the doctor is expecting them to return today. Most everybody says yes. But sometimes, some people use Urgent Care just to be seen that day when their primary doctor is not available. Occasionally, those people can leave after their x-ray is finished. They might be following up with their provider later or being referred to a specialist so it's not necessary to return to Urgent Care. I took an exam of a Urgent Care patient today, he told me that the doctor told him he did not need to return but had to go back for some other treatment. Ok, what reason do I not believe this patient? I send the patient back and then 3 hours later get a call from that patient's nurse saying, "where are the x-rays, the doctor is waiting to leave and he can't because he's waiting for us to deliver the films." I explained the situation and then I was blamed for the delay in the patient's treatment. Of course the patient never admitted to saying they didn't need to return with the films. So it was now MY responsibility to call and track down this film because this was all My mistake.

Ever since my back injury, I am to never return to portables and surgery exams. I miss surgery. I felt like an important key to the OR "Team". I was addressed by my first name, not just "X-ray!" They knew my work. I could intuitively know when and where they needed my flouroscopy "C-Arm". I developed this 6th sense, knowing when to run up to OR before they would even page me. I was fast, accurate, and I always helped out with assisting patients onto the surgical table. I felt respected. That was my arena. Everyone seemed to breathe out a sigh of relief when I'd be the one on duty (well, maybe not to that extent but I was told once how many surgeons were glad I was working with them on those surgery days).

One last good one; nurse forgets to place an order for an inpatient for an AM Chest x-ray, pages the portable tech to come up for a STAT exam (STAT by the way is supposed to be for life or death situations, not for right away because I've got to get to lunch). The nurse does this so that she does not get chewed out by the doctor. The doctor comes up to the patient's room to see the film, sees the x-ray tech taking the exam, yells at the tech for sitting on his butt all this time when the order was supposed to be done at 7:00 AM and it's now 10:30 AM. Nurse sits in her chair looking at the tech in the room, and not a word is said from the nurse. Anything the tech says at this point sounds like lame excuses in an attempt to get out of trouble. The x-ray fall guy, it's always our fault. Wouldn't that be cool to have a fall guy at your job to make you maintain your professional status? Find someone who can absorb all of everybody elses incompetence.

But it is funny, being the fall guy also means that you are perceived you have a breaking point as to telling the patient "did you see anything?" For being the fungal layer on the basement of the medical staff, we sure seem to be important enough to get badgered with that question. Nope, that's for the glory of the physician to tell you (and legally the only one who can tell you the results). After all, he's the most respected one in the medical community. The hero.

The people who tirelessly work, to strive, to obtain the best images possible, in the patient's favor, the ones who are trying to assist by x-raying patients in order to assist doctors better help patients, are the ones who are frowned upon the most. The fall guy.

(Disclaimer: In spite of my opinions I do respect many doctors at my facility. There are many great doctors that don't abuse their ordering privileges. These opinions are a generalization regarding radiology technologists as a whole. There's good and bad in every facility. Most of my opinions are based on the hospital poll and some personal experiences. I hope this does not offend the many doctors that I'm friends with who read this blog. I am not pointing a finger at any particular physician or patient care entity in particular.Order and patients from experiences have been changed drastically to adhere to confidentiality and to avoid acknowledging the location of my hospital and individuals involved.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

How Would You Like To Have This View From The Stage?

This is a shot of my college friend Ricky playing at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison, CO, you know, the same place all the big bands play, like U2?

I can't wait to hook up with Rick next month and get to jam and chat with. I'm curious about his road stories. At one point, they had to cancel a few US shows due to Luke's strep throat. Nice, huh?

Monday, August 25, 2008

People Are Now Blogging About My Guitars!


Dweezil and the Original Hendrix/Zappa Strat.

This one I found in a random Google search in regards to my Hendrix/Zappa Tribute guitar that I built for myself. A gentleman from the UK found some images on the web of my guitar and wanted me to build him one. Evidentally, someone got to see his guitar and blogged about it. Check it out: Hendrix/Zappa post.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Oranges, Poranges, Who Said, There Ain't No Rhyme For Oranges."

Those of you who grew up with Sid and Marty Kroft Saturday morning shows from the 70's should remember that line from H.R. Puffinstuff. I believe the character "Witchie Poo" was the one who sang it.

Uh.......yeah..well, anyway...I made some oranges today. I used some birch wood and decided to see if I was able to make convincing wooden oranges for the Orange Crate guitar. Things are really starting to gel on this project. I want each one to look a little different so that's why the one on the left looks a little more uniform in color than the one on the right.
Not bad for my first try.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The StewMade Shop Was Busy Today.

I glued up the top to my Orange Crate guitar. It looks like I'm going to go with oranges being seen between the slats of the crate.....um, guitar.
And I finally took a chance on a spare guitar body I had lying around. It's been so long since I've carved anything, that I was wondering if I still had the chops. Since fall is coming soon (my favorite time of year), I decided to do a fall maple leaves theme carving. It will be framed with tree branches and I'm not sure what to do with the carved out sections yet. For just that little section, it took forever, like 3 hours. You have to think like a leaf and get your mind set to think in 3-D.I did a test of the leaf on a piece of scrap wood. All I did was oil the leaf to get this look. I did not stain it to look like this. Pretty cool?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Our New Family Thing When We Go Places.

I've decided that whenever we go someplace like a vacation spot or interesting outing as a family, we will do the modified "My Three Sons" shot. It's something I've been thinking about as the girls get older.

We had a great time at Disneyland and CA Adventure. We got there around 5:00 PM and stayed almost to closing. At one point, my 13 year old snuck out of the heat and sat in the lobby of the Grand Califonian Hotel. My wife and our youngest waited in line for the Roaring Rapids ride.

I really liked the house of the future that's being featured in Disney's "Innoventions". Here's some shots of the day.




Friday, August 15, 2008

Getting Ready For The Orange Crate Guitar!

It's glued up and ready to start cutting. But I still have the dilema of the oranges. Once I have made up my mind on what to do, then I'll start cutting. You see depending on the process I pick will determine how I will cut this blank.

It's yellow pine, the same material used for citrus shipping crates. More to come....soon I hope. So Vote!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

SOLD!!!!!!

Hardly ever even got to play it. So here's a brief moment in time when I was preparing some video to support the ebay auction that never was. The fun stuff is in the middle of the video (3:53). Enjoy. This was on a good day for my hands.


2008 StewMade "Muscle Car" guitar.

Gear Geek Speak: Fender '65 Deluxe Reverb amp, Seymour Duncan Classic Twin overdrive/distortion pedals.....that's it!

Friday, August 1, 2008

More Pics from Ricky.

I'll let the photos speak for themselves.


Ricky and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons.
Dirty Shame Solo Tk. 2