On bicycles

I bought a new phone today. The kind that plugs into the wall (I’ll talk about the other kind a little bit tomorrow, I think). Our old one has been broken for a few weeks, but I didn’t care until today – I have someone I need to call.

A friend of mine had a bicycle accident a few weeks ago, just before I went to Canada. She’s there. In Canada. With a broken face.

I didn’t see her while I was there. It’s not that I didn’t want to see her. It’s just that time was short (six days, I believe, in actual measure) and I was dealing with my own shit. By which I mean that my mother died in January and I was there to assist in the spreading of her ashes around a garden.

In retrospect, the needs of a seriously injured close friend were more important than most of my peripheral obligations in Canada (if not the ceremony itself), but life conspires against me. I was not aware until late in the week that my friend was hurt, and she was in no shape to meet us while we were out with other friends. And my pre-existing emotional fetal position was unable to re-arrange my priorities to take in the severity of my friend’s injuries and act accordingly while in the vicinity.

So now I need a phone.

I don’t know if the phone is a good idea or not. It may be useless. Which is not to say without use – I’m sure my grandmother will be happy, tomorrow, when I press it into service again. But in that the purpose for which the purchase was intended – to call my injured friend – might be fruitless.

She was riding her bicycle to work. There was an accident. She has a concussion. Or a post-concussion. Or … whatever this is called by medical professionals where a severe blow to the head means that you have to avoid what the rest of us would term “living” for an extended period of time.

I don’t even know if she can receive phone calls. A large part of me is wondering if I shouldn’t just be engaging in an email exchange with her. But I’m not – I won’t – because I already missed seeing her in person. I can at least see her in voice.

If she’s even allowed to answer the phone. If she should even be listening to a phone ring. Doctor’s orders can be strange things, and this is uncharted territory.

I should probably also talk to her before hitting the “Publish” button to my right. I will not do this. I will call her after publishing this. I term this “Bloggeritis”.

There is a bicycle hire scheme in London. These bicycles are affectionately called “Boris Bikes”. I have a key for these, and can ride them at any time.

I do not.

I think of my friend, riding to work. I think of my friend, waking up in an ambulance. Or a hospital. I’m not sure where she woke up.

I wonder if I might be more unlucky than she was. That I might share the same bad luck of an accident, but not share the good luck of waking up. I think of my daughter, and wonder if she would remember me if that happened.

I think of my mother, and know that my daughter will never remember her. She loves her very much, right now, but will not remember ever having met her. This is the saddest thing I know. I cannot stand the thought of her not remembering me. I cannot unlock a Boris Bike.

It is two-and-a-half years since a friend of mine, from high school, died in a bicycle accident. I don’t think of him often. I didn’t think of him often. We weren’t close in high school. If we were any less close, calling him a “friend from high school” would feel disingenuous. But I knew him then, and I liked him.

He shared my much closer friend’s bad luck of a bicycle accident. He did not share her good luck. He did not wake up, in an ambulance or a hospital.

We weren’t close. But I continue to be struck by how his absence can sneak up on me and sadden me, to this day. A person I never expected to see again, should he be alive, impacts my life through his death.

Bicycles scare me now. I suspect I’ll get over it.

If you’ll excuse me now, I have a phone call to make.

The morning coffee gets drunk and walks around

Here at the Big Bad, we’re pretty big fans of Freakonomics. We bought and enjoyed the book. We regularly read the blog. The regular analysis of social phenomenon from an unusual perspective tends to be entertaining and insightful.

But when they go on about Drunk Walking, eyes over here start to roll.

Drunk walking is like drunk driving. But instead of driving, you’re walking. And, it turns out, if you walk and drive the same distance, while intoxicated, you are more likely to die if you are walking.

This should come as no surprise — if you’re in danger of heading across a busy intersection while not paying attention, you’re far more likely to die as a pedestrian than an individual tied down inside a steel shell. And the initial revelation, as it were, was fine and good.

But the folks at Freakonomics seem to want us to take drunk walking as seriously as we do drunk driving. But, while walking drunk is foolish — take a cab, by all means — it doesn’t deserve equal billing with drunk driving. Because the tragedy is not one of people endangering themselves by their own decisions, but endangering others.

People should be able to make their own bad decisions. Help to inform those decisions, sure, but unless you’re hurting another person, why not leave it there? Let’s save the over-the-top stuff for the real tragedy: when those decisions kill others.

Image is Coffee and Donuts, available for sale
Webcomic is
Gods of the Moon.

The morning coffee notes that it’s Friday

We wake today to find that Friday morning has arrived, and the week has passed the morning coffee by with nary a drop for Big Bad Blog readers. Here at the Big Bad Blog we feel for you. Really. It’s been exhausting, which is why we haven’t been dragging our sorry butts to the keyboard to entertain you every morning.

But it’s Friday, and so we made an exception, cast off our laziness, and present the coffee once more …

Proponents of filesharing, and opponents of the major media conglomerates, have long held that when the industry sues filesharers, it is suing its biggest and best customers, monetarily speaking. The industry, on the other hand, holds that it is these exact individuals who are responsible for slumping profits.

It turns out that filesharers make the best customers, after all. In a not-very-surprising revelation, a report commissioned (and then buried) by the industry found that those who download movies and music illegally spend far more money on movies and music, on average, than those who don’t.

Almost as if they like the stuff.

This corner of the internet hopes that this finally gives that push to the entertainment industry to enter the twenty-first century. This corner of the internet also expects the industry to sit in the corner with its fingers in its ears, and then complain to governments worldwide that the internet needs to be turned off so they can keep making money.

Photo is of Manhattanhenge, by Vivienne Gucwa.
Webcomic is Cyanide and Happiness.

The morning coffee and the case of the shrinking moon

We present to you: the incredible shrinking moon!


(via Things Organized Neatly.)

Now that jailbreaking is legal, Apple is working on ways to disable your jail-broken phone. The Big Bad Blog is starting to think that Apple does not think very highly of its customers — they seem to be out to break our shit.

Stats-heads: Here is an interactive graph about Lonodn’s cycle-hire scheme, looking at the time, weather, and number of bicycles in use.