Falling Down

In which I was hit by a car…door.

small accident
Image by chdot via Flickr

Last week I had a small accident on my way home. I was driving with my bike on the right side of the street, with parked cars on my right, when suddenly, just one meter in front of me a car door from the driver’s side sprung open and I had barely enough time to swerve to the left while making a small warning shout. Unfortunately I wasn’t fast enough and the door clipped me on the shoulder and after a brief struggle for control, I ended up on my back in the middle of the road.

Fortunately the road behind me was empty, otherwise this could have ended far worse, but as it was, I didn’t get as much as a scrapped knee (I’m very good at falling. Years of experience as a kid. Hey, flaunt them if your have them.) After a brief pause to pause to compose myself, I got up and looked at the careless driver and…saw him checking up the door for damages…

I angrily shouted “Seht gut gemacht” which translates to “well done” but in retrospect I should have said something wittier, like “Is your door ok?” or something. At that point I was too shaken to be witty though. The guy, who was around his 60s, started apologizing profusely and people started asking what happened but at that point, once I verified that nothing was hurting, all I wanted was to continue on my way home. The driver of course was being now very very friendly and asking me if all is OK,  if nothing hurts and so on.

Call me cynic but I know that his main concern was that he wouldn’t get sued. He was very fortunate that I had no damage on myself or my bike ((My bike actually stopped squeaking after this)) and he was especially fortunate I’m not a typical German. Almost every one I speak to says that if a typical German was in my position, they would have called the police immediately, just in case something started hurting down the line. From my perspective, calling the police, taking statements and so on would have been so much a waste of my time that it was just not worth it. The hassle I would go through would be far too much of a cost.

The whole incident however pointed out to me how material-oriented so many Germans are. The guy who hit me was primarily interested in the state of his car, not because a scratch is a big issue, but because the car wouldn’t be perfect and that would speak bad about him as a human person. It sounds ridiculous but far too many people around here think like that. It’s like a nation-wide Keep Up With the Joneses situation and it really ruins human relations.

It’s the reason people are so emotionally cold around here. The judge themselves, and consecutively others, by their material wealth and avoid mixing up to those lower than them. This in turn leads to more and more alienation from your fellow human beings. In the case of my accident above, another person would very likely have a more angry reaction to the door hit, not just because of the carelessness of the driver, but because of where the driver’s primary concern was. The fact that his first instinct was to make sure his status was social unaffected and not to worry about the person he could have harmed.

It’s like a prime example of how crass materialistc individualism can go wrong and poison our society as a whole.

Epic Bicycle Fa[i/l]l

Not only did I crash my bike but I managed to do it spectacularly as well.

Gawd this hasn’t happened to me since I was a teen. Yesterday as I was returning from work with my bicycle, I had one absolutely cinematic bicycle fall, the kinds of which that you just assume have been specifically prepared to make the stuntman have the most impressive drop.

I was on the large area in front of the Opera House and I have my umbrella hanged on the steering handle of the bike. The umbrella was one of those cheap plastic/aluminum ones where they have a hook at the end, so I had put it there to free my hands and I was holding it steady with my hand on top. In retrospect, such close proximity to the wheel was not the best place for an umbrella to be.

As these thing always do, the inevitable happened and at some point the tip of the umbrella managed to get too near to the spinning spokes and “sucked” in to the point where in jammed next to the fork. I didn’t really see that though. What I did see, after a short “I can see my house from up here” moment, was the ground coming up to meet me and say hello. I even did a satisfying grunt when I was ejected from my seat just because the jerk was so sudden.

I managed to land approx 1 meter away from my bike

Fortunately my years as a bumbling youth have conditioned me to fall as gracefully as possible and I managed to put my hands down first which meant that my right wrist took a nice strain, and then fell flat on my chest, which all things considered is not a bad falling location due to the amount of area the force can spread to. The initial pain was minimal and nothing was sprained or broken but I still have lingering pain on my wrist and chest now. Could have been worse I guess.

Of course such an event could not turn out without victims and in this case it was the unfortunate umbrella who dared to investigate the shiny-spinny thingies. After I managed to extricate it from its stuck location, I ended up with a vaguelly umbrella-shaped object which whished to become the greek letter Sigma “Σ” in the next life.

Once I had fallen, I turned around to shake my head at my misbehaving bicycle and noticed that a family around 50 meters ago had stopped to look at the undoubtedly humorous event. They didn’t look for long and moved along as soon as I got up. At this point some young guy approached me to ask (I guess) if I was ok. As I was a bit too stunned to decode his German at that point that is what I assume he was saying, although in retrospect I think he may have been saying “That was fucking awesome dude“. I couldn’t think of anything appropriate to say, so I said what was on the top of my mind at that moment:

EPIC Fail!

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Slap in the face

This mountain bicycle features oversized tires...

I’ve been trying to control and introspect my feelings lately, after the recent event where the Barefoot Bum abruptly terminated his self-hosted blog. This sudden turn of events left me stunned and hurt, very much like a slap in the face.

Thus, I’ve been waiting for the last few days to get an explanation, a reason or something anyway to understand what led to this. But after my emails were ignored and my IM attempts were shot down, I’m starting to believe this is for him, somehow personal.

But why is this a slap in the face for me? Let me give you an analogy.

Lets say that you have an old fashioned bicycle which does not have any speed control but always moves at the same old speed. This bicycle does not have anything fancy but it takes you where you want it eventually but like all bikes missing speed control, when the road gets upward, it makes you struggle and when it goes downwards, your pedaling becomes useless.

I see this and I explain to you that there are new types of custom bicycles with speed control. They takes a bit of time to setup and get used to but give you much more power in your rides. You’re sceptical at first but once I explain the rest of the features and widgets that a custom bicycle can have and that I’ll be glad to set it up or you as a gift (once you buy for the material) you’re sold.

I also explain that I’m trying to convince more people to try these out as I think it’s worth it.

So I spend some time to setup this bicycle and you start using it. The first week goes just fine and while you don’t yet have the perfect understanding of speed control, you can ride it. Sometimes it gets a bit harder as you’re not used to switching the speeds but nothing serious. As far as I know, everything seems to be going fine until…

One sunday, I wake up to find you shouting how much these bicycles suck. You start calling them an absolute piece of crap that only bike mechanics could ever setup and ride, regardless of the fact that many non-mechanics are doing exactly that. Not understanding what changed, I try to explain that this criticism is a bit harsh.

And the next time I wake up and find that you’ve smashed your new bike into millions of pieces. This bike which as a gift I helped you setup, without any expectation of reward and with the best of intentions, is now scrap metal.

How do you think that makes me feel?

All along you knew that as my first attempt to setup a custom bike for, you are the first sample people are going to look at as an example. And yet, you now start saying that custom bikes are not working and that you can’t remove those dynamos I suggested for your old bike either.

You don’t consider that custom bikes may not fit your style. You don’t give me a chance to fix any problems. No, you smash it and then say that they are crap. As if you’re trying to deliberately turn people off and sabotage all I’m trying to achieve.

How do you think that makes me feel now?

If you thought hurt and surprised, you’d be spot on.

Like a slap in the face.

And here I am now. A few days after the “slap”, and I still do not know the fuck happened. I’ve been patiently waiting to see if anything will be explained but in vain. I’ve also been trying to suppress my outburst but I’ve had enough.

All I know is that from one day to the other a succesful migration was trashed and I’m reading impressions that I didn’t expect. At least not from someone I respected. And make no mistake. The migration was succesful. All the posts from the old blog were moved. All the comments, from both blogger and IDC were moved ((Save one post with ID Comments)). Everything was working. The only missing was the moving of the old blogroll and widgets to the new blog, and the only reason I did not do this as well, is because I was not given access.

There was absolutely nothing more complex left to do, than going to your dashboard and clicking on “Write new post”. Others agree.

As for the setup difficulty; do not be confused by my step-by-step process. In that, I went into excruciating detail in order to make it as easy and fool-proof to follow as possible. I could have easily shortened it to half the size.

That’s it then. This post was mostly a rant to take this stuff out of my chest before it easts me up and burst out like an alien of bitterness and anger. I cannot claim to know why BB acted the way he did but for me, it was certainly the wrong way.

For me, it is especially troublesome when we’re talking about atheist activism, solidarity and cooperation to have my first attempt to help others, pissed on like that from the get go.

UPDATE @ 02/11/2009: This post was never posted publicly until now. As a result of recent developments with the Barefoot Bum, I’m making it public as I see no hope of salvage. Make of it what you will.

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Bicycle protection

I had to investigate after having my own bike stolen when I really should have done it before but at least I’ll know better next time right?

In any case, here’s some quite good information on how to protect your bicycle. Next time I’m certainly buying two types of locks and leaving the bike in the ECB parking spot.

With the number of [tag]bicycle[/tag]s around, I really wish Frankfurt had a bait program like the one the Victoria police department implements.

Bad luck comes in threes

And it seems I might be getting the treatment…

  • Yesterday morning, I discover that my internet connection has b0rked
  • After leaving work, I find out that my brand new used recently-repaired bicycle was stolen just outside the office
  • This morning, I forgot my security badge and I am afraid I might have lost it

Now among these, the third one is the least, the first one can be fixed (I hope without too much hassle) but the second one really brought me down. Especially since I had very recently spent €70 on repairs and I had grown quite accustomed to it :'(

I’m going to report it to the police but I’m afraid it is not going to do a bit of difference. Especially seeing as the bike was used and I do not even remember the brand.

Damnit! At least I hope that this string of bad luck is at an end.