Category Archives: rant

Reflecting on my mortality on my Death Day

No wrecks today except for a first-person (with supplements from other witnesses) account of a hit-and-run. Long-time readers of this blog know which wreck I am referring to, but as we have a bunch of new readers since then I’ll just open with the tl;dr version: At 0119 on 31/08/2001 I was killed by a hit-and-run driver. I stayed dead about 2 minutes, less than 5 for sure, and woke up to a world of pain.

The long version goes like this more or less. I was riding home from my second-shift job as a Windows help desk operator, and having to dodge thunderstorms along the route. My ride home was 15.2 miles from Farmer’s Branch to the northeast side of Garland, mostly along arterials because there was no connected grid of streets between the 4 cities I had to traverse to get home. In 3 of the cities I was mostly protected by LEO “not on quotas” following me to catch the crazy drivers that seemed to be attracted to me like moths to a flame, or as one LEO put it I was an idiot magnet and they could get a month’s worth of tickets just following me for a week. Except for Garland, my police shadow stopped when I crossed into my home city.

Any way, I had just crossed into Garland proper when some idiot driving a white pickup that might have been a late ’90s Chevy (I had rain on my glasses) stuck his head out the window to bellow, “Get off the fucking road!” As there was no place to get off the road and still continue to get home I ignored him and continued to ride. This infuriated the driver so much that the driver went to the next available cut-through in the median separating us to make a u-turn to get on my side of the road. Yes he was horribly upset that I was riding all alone on the opposite side of the street with 2 other unoccupied lanes of travel that he had to stop what he was doing to reverse direction and get on my side of the street. Did I mention he was presumed to be drunk at the time?

Location What it looks like now, there was a steakhouse where the mosque is now and no sidewalks

Anyway, after getting on my side of the street and about a quarter mile behind me at this point and driving on wet streets (rain) he basically floored the go pedal on the truck and got up to about 60 MPH (the guy that did the reconstruction put the speed as “between 45 and 65 MPH with highest confidence on 60 MPH”) I heard a noise behind me and started to turn to look over my left shoulder and heard “Get off the fucking road!” again just before everything went black. This is where what I remember about the wreck and what I was told about the wreck diverges sharply, because the people not in my body were watching a different channel than I was.

Location In the far right lane, notice how many lanes of travel there were

Watching from the outside people saw my body bounce off the windshield of the truck, crushing the roof, and then flipping and spinning violently on all 3 axis at the same time to land about 50 feet later on my face. My bike was crushed up to the seat post and went flying about a quarter-mile away to rest against a bus stop sign that is still there today.

My LZ Right in front of the camera car

And the bike’s LZ That sign! Still the same post, but the signs were different in 2001

Outside channel saw what appeared to be a broken corpse only oozing blood in the middle of the street as they called 911. The woman passenger in the car that was behind me and the weapon vehicle actually had enough time to grab her cell when she saw the driver make the u-turn in front of that vehicle and hit 9 and 1 between seeing me come over the top of the truck and landing on the street.

At this point the inside channel was being tuned to a new program. I didn’t get the “life flashing before your eyes” or the “light at the end of a tunnel” program, I got “welcome home, you get to become one with the Universe”. The only problem with that program is learning to use the zoom function, because from where they (whoever or whatever “they” was) left me all I saw was a bunch of dots that were galaxies on a dark background and no way to tell which one was the Milky Way from all the rest of the galaxies, much less find Earth and watch what was going on there (here). At this point I said something along the lines of “this is stupid and I still have things to do” and decided to be not-dead.

Inside channel and outside channels converge about this time as someone tried to move me and I told them I had “broken the upper end of my femur!” several times then I passed out again. Shortly after this I woke up in the back of the ambulance saying, “Did anyone get the number of that truck?” and wondering why it was so dark in there. I could see the cop asking if I saw the truck that hit me but only just barely, and I told him that it was a joke, that I said “truck” because it was already too late to be a bus. Yep, the second thing I said after coming back from the dead was a corny joke.

On that blindness, I should have been freaking out about not being able to see, but I was very calm about the situation and just decided they had the lights down low for my benefit. Obviously I was going blind from all the blood pooling in my head from the flipping compressing the optic nerve, similar to what happens to sprint car drivers after a violent flip. But I didn’t know that at the time. And I could see normally after about 3 days recovery. Well as normally as I could after losing my glasses in the wreck.

I have done the inventory before, but there have been many new readers since the last time so from the bottom: I had some abrasions to the top of my left foot from where my shoe came off in the initial impact, there are still a few scars left but you have to know where to look. The front of my lower leg blew apart from the impact to the back of my leg, exposing both the gastrocnemius and the soleus as well as the tibialis anterior and part of the extensor digitorum. All of those muscles had scarring and reduced mobility in some degree with the gastrocnemius taking the brunt of the scarring and reduced function. I can only raise the front of my foot slightly beyond level now. There was also much nerve damage that healed, for lack of a better description, “cross circuited”, I have numb areas and areas that touching one part will feel like another part of the leg or foot. I also broke the tibia and fibula, but the tib reset while I was flipping and the break wasn’t detected until after it had healed when they did the MRI of my knee. The swelling of the damaged muscles effectively splinted the leg until the bone knitted.

Moving up I lost some skin off the knee and tore both cruciate ligaments and the meniscus of the knee, both of which were not discovered initially because of other damage preventing the diagnosis. The internal damage I mean, the skin was quite easy to see. Above that I also broke my femur somewhere and broke the hip off the end of the femur, which was the only injury I felt at the scene. Since the treatment for the broken hip also took care of the other break nobody bothered to show me where that one was, but I got to see a lot of X-rays of my hip because that was the one they were afraid wouldn’t heal. I was also told that this one was a major pain in the tuckus because of how dense my bones were, requiring the use of power tool that had been only used for carpentry at that point…

I also lost skin off my hands where the gloves were not covering them, a large patch of my left forearm, and part of my face was detached when I landed face first on the street and had to be sewn back on. That one was the most annoying injury in hospital because it felt like ants were crawling on my face while it healed. And that segues (not Segways) into the other major life-altering injury, the TBI that didn’t get spotted because they didn’t know to look or how to look for it back then. I have what is now called Diffuse Axonal Injury, what was back then called severe concussion. I had 2 seizures, one in the ambulance and the other in the ER, that should have tipped someone off, but like I wrote they didn’t know what to look for or how to look for it back then. These days there are two ways to find the injury, one is with an MRI that can see the damage in the first hour or two after the injury, the second is to have a baseline CAT scan for comparison to spot the brain swelling that accompanies the DAI. These are required for F1 drivers and I think IndyCar, but AFAIK they are the only ones who do this. The NFL were considering this, but I don’t know what became of the consideration.

Anyway, the rest is history, my left leg got much shorter, my TBI caused me to lose some cognitive functions and a huge chunk of my vocabulary and foreign languages, and I went on long bike rides because I couldn’t get a job after the wreck because of very little overlap in what I could still do physically and mentally. Basically riding a bike and this blog plus basic life support are about all I can manage since the wreck. Other stuff could be done but not at a level of proficiency that would get me paid for it.

And that’s my 14th anniversary of the day I died. I will have a small party tonight, and then I get to do a massive blog post tomorrow with the links that have been accumulating since Saturday.

PSA, Opus the Unkillable Badass Poet.

No post tonight, the visit to the Lab Rat Keeper drained me

I just wish that was not quite so literal as it turned out to be.

First is the lack of sleep issue. Last night’s post did not get finished until about 0230 or so, after 0200 at any rate. I was tired, but the brain refused to shut down and let me sleep, so I was awake until sometime close to 0400. Then the alarm went off at 0715. So I have been semi-functional all day on maybe as much as 4 hours of sleep.

The comes the dehydration. The relative humidity has been very low and the temperature has been high by “normal” standards, low by “Texas” standards, about 97-99°F. That just sucks the fluids right out of your skin. I compounded that by only having one cup of coffee with breakfast and then forgetting to drink water during the day until lunch. Lunch was a Wendy’s Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, small fries, and the biggest Diet Coke they sold. That helped for a little while until I had to sit in the sun waiting for the bus that was about 20 minutes late arriving. I was a bit thirsty when we got to the transit center, but not enough time to grab a drink before the bus home.

Then there was the actual visit with the Lab Rat Keeper. This visit was “torture day”. First the usual weigh-in and BP testing. Then the stuff that was not a part of the routine get more meds and go visit, the blood draw(s, I only got stuck the once but there were at least a half-dozen Vacutainers that had to be filled), the EKG (which only took one small patch of chest hairs off :P ), and then the mental acuity tests. First the good news, my memory impairment seems to only be relative to my previous standards, compared to other guys my age I’m a memory giant. The one that impressed the lady doing the test was the repeating back 8 digit numbers backwards. I missed one and got the other one which was a “pass” and would have allowed me to go on to the next level, except that was where the test maxed out. Remembering stories I didn’t do so well. I kept forgetting details like the names of the characters. Names have never been my strong point, just ask Mrs. the Poet how many times she gets called “Bob”.

So, when I got home I was tired. Run down. Vaguely thirsty. Sweaty and slightly stinky. And not really thinking all that clearly. So this is all the blog post you are getting tonight.

PSA, Opus the Unkillable Badass Poet

I’m beat, no links tonight

As you may have figured out, I’m not going to link to anything tonight after the ordeal I went through running around today. First of all was getting up way too early for a guy used to working until 3AM, a 0715 alarm to catch a 0828 bus then the trip to the ATM and the bike shop. All the parts are back in the house now. After the very quick and easy exchange to get the bike parts I stopped of at a C-store to grab a drink to go with the lunch I had to eat on the run, between trains and busses. I had lunch at a normal lunch time, just before noon, than caught the bus that took me to about a mile away from my destination. I walked that mile with no sidewalks and lots of puddles left over from the rain the night before, then spent about an hour filling out paperwork and paying co-pays.

Then the real fun began, as their MRI machine is so loud that they give you earplugs for it. Between the loud noises and the shifting magnetic field I had a bad case of vertigo inside the chamber which made my strategy of remaining completely still by way of meditation tricky. There was some kind of pump that made a “shoop, shoop” noise in the background that I could hear over the MRI machine and through my earplugs that I used as my meditation focus, and thanks to all the training on meditation I have been doing the past few years I was able to remain completely still inside the tunnel.

Then the pain began as I had to have an MRI contrast agent injected to make my blood vessels stand out better so the doctor could determine how vascular this particular lump is. This is important to determine if this is some kind of slow-growing cancer, or just another lipoma. Well the tech tried to use my right arm, the one with the rolling veins and I ended up feeling like a pincushion as he repeatedly stabbed at vein after vein, until he finally got a good one in the back of my hand. Then he injected that contrasting agent. You know they really should think about getting that stuff somewhat close to body temperature, that expression “felt like ice in my veins” was literally true today. Then I got to spend more time meditating, this time trying to ignore how much my arm hurt along with all the noises and wanting to scratch my nose.

Another thing, for a long time after I got out of the MRI machine I had no sense of direction. Near as anyone has been able to tell I am part of that minority who have a magnetic sensory organ located inside the inner ear, which allows me to know which way is north fairly accurately. That won’t be known for sure until they do the autopsy after I die, but given how dizzy having my head inside an MRI machine made me I think they will probably find it.

Finally they got their pictures, and I will hear back from the doctor shortly and find out when and where the lump is going to be removed from my neck, and I will be able to put my helmet on and ride any bike I want from the garage.

PSA, Opus

I’m having back issues on Grocery Day, and the Feed

One of the problems I have been dealing with besides the thing growing on my neck has been walking around with both shoes the same, like a person who doesn’t have 17mm missing from one leg. Well that didn’t work after the wreck, and it doesn’t work now. I can withstand not having the lifted left shoe for a few days, but we are coming up on a couple of months since I ruined my old shoes coming back from the property hearing on Blue. The results are quite predictable, I have been walking around with a sever pelvic tilt and the part of my back on the up side of the tilt had been trying to go into spasm more and more frequently, and it gets worse on days I spend more time walking or standing, standing being much worse than walking. I have had to take several breaks today from filtering the Feed to lie down and let the spasms settle down a bit, then get back to work. In fact I should probably take a break right now as my back does not take kindly to sitting hunched over the laptop either.

Up first is a memorial for a cyclist killed down in Austin. Multiple communities mourn cyclist’s death Another left-cross with idiot LEO dilly-dallying about filing charges. This is another reason why I don’t do wreck analysis these days, because stuff like this just raises my blood pressure to no good ends.

Next because this has been burning up the Internets, multiple links to the Russian cyclist sideswiped by a tanker truck making an illegal pass. Unbelievable helmet cam footage shows the moment a Russian cyclist is struck by a 40ft lorry and LIVES and Cyclist riding down middle of road wiped out by truck very misleading headline, that, and Watch moment cyclist is thrown from bike in horrifying motorway crash with lorry The driver in this wreck was driving in the exit-only lane as the cyclists rode in the furthest right through lane, then the truck drove straight through passing on the right after crossing the “do not drive here” markings for the exit-only lane.The cyclists (all of them) are very lucky to have survived this one.

Great minds think alike? Don’t make bicyclists more visible. Make drivers stop hitting them. How many times have I posted exactly the same words here in my blog? I have lost count.

And to top that off, the VERY next link in the feed is about the glow-in-the-dark spray paint mentioned in the WP link. Volvo launches Life Paint initiative to improve cyclist safety in the UK This is like mandating women wear ever stronger chastity belts to prevent rape without ever prosecuting rapists. Except chastity belts have a finite chance of actually working to prevent rapes, making cyclists more visible won’t work unless there is someone looking for a cyclist out the front of the car in the direction the car is going. That would require LEO to file charges and prosecutors to actually prosecute them. More on the reaction from Oz. Volvo LifePaint: cycling safety trial product causes controversy

Some good news from NYC for a change. 2014 Was The Most Popular Year For Bicycling In NYC Now to do something about the door-zone bike lanes before they kill again?

And this little tidbit makes my heart all a-flutter. Bike Theft On The Rise In NYC Palpations are the same as “all a-flutter”, right? Anywho, the proposed enhanced fines for stealing bikes are a step in the right distraction. And yes, I spelled that right… My take is remotely detonated bike frames keyed to the owner’s cell phone. Pull up the app, enter the detonate code and the bike frame turns into a pipe bomb.

And rare unanimity between cyclists and the NYPD. Cyclists & NYPD Agree: A Cell Phone Bike Ban Is Dumb Aside from last year’s statistical outlier of 2 fatal bike/ped wrecks bicycles are very safe around pedestrians, and even if all you went by was last year they are still very safe around pedestrians, by a ratio of 50:1 in favor of cyclists. Best line from the article: “There isn’t a mandatory class for motorists who kill and maim New Yorkers. Why should we start with cyclists? It’s motorists who need a reeducation.” Amen.

I was not the only person who thought this sentence was grossly out of whack. Prosecutor appeals sentence in fatal cyclist crash Kudos to the prosecutor.

Why does the driver waste everyone’s time by pleading not guilty? Grief follows cyclist’s death as suspect charged They pulled him from the weapon vehicle with the victim’s blood still on it, and his BAC was 0.108 81 minutes after the wreck. You’re guilty dude, admit it and take your punishment.

Another ad for on-board video recorders for bicycles. Man seriously injured, but sheriff’s office doesn’t know how “They just didn’t think he would have all those skull fractures just by crashing his bike” Apparently the injuries were in a part of the head that would be hard to injure in a fall-off-the-bike wreck?

Another ad for getting better reports on bike wrecks. Make This Woman’s Cracked Bicycle Helmet Count The broken helmet was enough property damage to trigger the report, but how many wrecks don’t get reported? The one where I knocked the mirror off the truck with my elbow sure as hell didn’t. It would have been nice to have a name to put to that driver and compare it to the name of the guy that sold Blue to the pawn shop.

Here’s yesterday’s Daily Ted. Morning Links: Driver arraigned in death of Matt Liechty; ribbon cutting planned for bike-friendly PCH in the ‘Bu There is a link to one of the people working the second edition of Finish the Ride that is really inspiring.

And here is today’s Daily Ted. Morning Links: El Monte rider victim of vicious attack, hit-and-run rewards passed, and why sharrows don’t work Sharrows are the abstinence-only sex ed of bicycle infrastructure, never proven to work, but they still keep getting thrown out there like they do.

And still in CA a little lifestyle as a bridge is named for a cyclist. Humble Cyclist Memorialized

This monstrosity is from the son of the man who gave us the C5 and the doorstop computer. Crispin Sinclair Innovation Launches World’s Safest Bicycle, the Babel Bike I would say this bike is lacking a few things, but the steel tube cage would be a handy place to mount a coroplast body and a string of Christmas tree lights. People I know who have crashed a coroplast faired bike tell me the bodywork goes a long way in preventing injury when sliding over pavement and spreads out impact somewhat, especially compared to Spandex shorts and a jersey.

The UK’s professional traffic engineers are starting to revolt over bad infrastructure. Profession reacts: make London safer for cyclists I still think that the people who back in 2012 voted down fixing the intersection where the cyclist was killed this year need to be charged in the death.

And I’m out of links.

Billed @€0.02, Opus the Poet

No post today, I got hypothermia on the way back from court

I really wish that was a joke. After I got the papers to get Blue out of the evidence locker this Friday I got caught in a frog-strangler of a thunderstorm, that was rolling in on the leading edge of a massive cold front. It was 51 when I left the house and 31°F when I got home soaking wet as I got caught in ankle-deep streams that covered half of some of the streets I had to cross. Between that and the horizontal rain blowing under my umbrella I was completely soaked from the waist down. But before I did that I got Blue out of jail! I can have my bike back as soon as Friday, the first day I could get a ride together. Looking at the recovery pictures Blue was in pretty good shape, not too many added scrapes and scratches, and all the electronics seemed to be intact except for the dead batteries. I am dreading opening up the lights to see what is in the battery boxes. When Blue was stolen there was about $20 in high-end NiMH rechargeable cells between the two lights. I’m expecting leaking alkaline cells or empty space in there instead of those pricey rechargeables. And I’m still freezing here, so I’m done now.

PSA, Opus

What LOTR and The Hobbit tells us about economic theory.

In a nutshell, it’s all about churn.

Tax breaks for the rich have much the same economic benefit as giving gold to Smaug. Smaug gets richer, but never spends any gold as he already has far more gold than he can possibly spend for his needs or even for his future needs, so it just sits there doing nothing except being dragon bedding. Likewise giving people who already have too much money than they can possibly spend on their needs more money just results in the money sitting there doing nothing. Taxing that money and using it on infrastructure and social programs results in that money being churned through the economy and growing the economy so that the rich still get the same amount of money, it just has to pass through a few more poor people’s hands before the rich get it, making everyone a little richer.

In order to stimulate the economy you have to develop churn, putting the money in as many hands as possible so that it then passes through as many hands as possible and creates growth. Savings that just sit in a bank or under a mattress don’t create any churn, and “investments” barely ruffle the surface of the water in creating churn. What has been shown to make churn on the federal level has been Food Stamps and infrastructure projects. Food Stamps go from the recipient to the grocery store and pay for the employees at the store as well as the people who transport the food (and other things) and the people that create the food. There are at least 4 stages of economic churn created by Food Stamps that can be easily identified and tracked.

Tax breaks for people who already have more money than they can spend on their needs or even on non-need items like TVs and computers (although I would put computers in the “need to work” category because I use one for work every day) is not the way to grow the economy. I mean how many new cars can one person buy in a year? How many boats? Unless you are out there spending money, you are an economic dead weight no matter how big your checking account is. Rich people don’t create jobs, poor people with jobs create jobs because they are the ones out there spending most of their money. Aldous Huxley had the right idea when he coined the term “conscripted consumption” in the book Brave New World . If you have a consumer economy, you have to get people consuming things to grow the economy.

And because I am not an economist by trade (I am a technical writer who translated jargon into plain English so that people in other fields can understand it) I will let real economists pick it up from here. Go for it guys.

PSA, Opus the Poet

OK now I’m pissed

Short post today while I’m not playing with my RPG group, which I bowed out from because I was supposed to work with the Wendy Davis campaign to GOTV, but the event was cancelled at the last minute without telling the workers. I don’t know why.

Something that is really chapping my butt is my daughter took out student loans that my father cosigned because my credit rating did not exist as I have been on the cash-only economy for almost 20 years now. Now that the people that took over Sallie Mae finally noticed that my dad is dead (we sent a death certificate right after dad died but that was to Sallie Mae…) they want their money NOW. Now as in they are filing collection actions against ME, who didn’t take out the loans or cosign any of them. But they are demanding that I pay the loans in full in 30 days any way…

And tonight is Death High Court held by the Arms of Verity at my church, a kind of Day of the Dead celebration, using one of the 6 archetypes revered by Verity. Those archetypes are Builder, Nurturer, Healer, Trickster, Death, and Destroyer. I’m still trying to decide if I’m going tonight, but my neck is telling me it isn’t very likely.

Speaking of my neck, I think it’s a good time to go ahead and end this post, because my neck is killing me…

Billed @€0.02, Opus the unkillable badass Poet