Monday, June 25, 2007

A hovercraft in the front yard

I went down to Hemlock Ravine yesterday for my walk and to do some mapping. On one of the back streets, I saw a hovercraft that someone is building in their front yard:

The owner was there working on it and I had a chat with him. He started building it last year, and so far he has the frame done and most of the fiberglass panels, next job is to finish installation of engine and fans. He told me to come back later in the summer, and "if she's dropped down you'll know she's not on blocks any more". The plan is to take it down to the harbour when it's done and store it at a dock somewhere there.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The best laid plans of mice and men...

Progressing with physio, off work until July 30 2007

So, the results of the Xray are that my fractured humerus has healed and I just need to do physio. However... it turns out that my shoulder socket also has a break in it that no-one mentioned to me, and that hasn't healed at all. I'm now off work until the end of July, and my question about getting back on the bike resulted in laughter and a comment that "well, we'll see about that next visit". I guess my plans for riding in Newfoundland in August are well and truly screwed.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

"Jeez, Steve, when're you going to get a car?"

(Yes, this is a rant. The voice recognition software seems to work better when I express some vehemence.)

I've lost count of how many times I've heard that question. Very few people seem to believe me when I say it's safer not to be in a car, from both anecdotal and statistical bases.

* I've been in two major accidents requiring medical treatment, neither of which have involved major trauma. Since I've been at home the last couple of months, I've been reading the local paper. For every day I've read the obituaries (which is admittedly most, but not all days) someone has been listed as dying in an automobile accident. A quick search of the Chronicle Herald for this week, to give a sample:

"Memorial service today for mother, 3 children

Natalie Margaret Crawford loved to play the violin to her three children. They were her life.

Ms. Crawford, 27, her children, Sara Marie Barnes, 7, Kyle Angus Kaiser, 5, and Justin Fredrick Boutilier, 3, were killed in a car crash June 3 in Alberta."

"Retired music teacher has condition upgraded

Vesta Mosher, a retired New Glasgow music teacher seriously hurt in a car crash last week, has had her condition upgraded from critical to serious, a hospital spokesperson said Tuesday.

Last Wednesday, Ms. Mosher, 79, was thrown from her car in a single-vehicle accident near Shubenacadie. She was airlifted to the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre with serious head trauma after the crash."

"BRIDGEWATER — Fenton Thompson was convicted Monday of failing to stop after hitting a man in a crosswalk with his car, even though his videotaped confession was thrown out.

The confession was ruled inadmissible because police failed to tell him he had the right to apply for legal aid.

The 19-year-old Blockhouse man told police and the judge that he was behind the wheel when Matthew Berry was hit last Oct. 14.

But he pleaded not guilty and went ahead with his trial, as well as a separate hearing to determine whether his statement to police was voluntary.

At the hearing, Mr. Thompson said he freely confessed. He said the arresting officer read him his rights, told him he could call his own lawyer or a legal aid lawyer, and that no one pressured him into saying anything. "I said I was the driver," he said.

He also said on the tape he was guilty, but added in court: "When I said on the video I was guilty I mean guilty of failing to stop at the scene of an accident."

Mr. Thompson said in his confession he knew he had hit something but didn’t know what. He was arrested after returning to the accident scene a couple of hours later and a police officer saw his father looking in the grass to see if he could find what his son had hit."

"Accident victim worries about cap on insurance
Industry says rates went down

STEWIACKE — Shirley MacPhee has paid both physically and financially every day since the vehicle she was riding in two years ago was hit at an intersection in nearby Brookfield.

"It’s been a long, hard time for us," Ms. MacPhee, 68, said in an interview at her Stewiacke home.

"It just doesn’t seem to get any better."

Her husband Percy, 69, pulled out a folder full of receipts, letters and business cards.

"It’s this cap the Province of Nova Scotia has put on for the insurance industry that worries me. People like us keep paying and the insurance companies get off pretty well scot-free," Mr. MacPhee said.

The couple said since Ms. MacPhee’s back injury, they have shelled out more than $3,000 in medical expenses. So far, the insurance company has paid them $500."

"Victims of N.L. accident mourned
Wet, foggy road conditions blamed for crash

Two Nova Scotia families are in mourning after a van crash killed two local men who were working in Newfoundland.

Local rapper Shane Jackson, 27, of Lower Sackville and Richard Slauenwhite, 28, who moved to Dartmouth from Bridgewater about a year ago, died Tuesday night when the van they were passengers in left a highway near Terrenceville, N.L."

"Unlicensed driver loses wife in fatal crash


Wayne Hubley only meant to pick up his common-law wife from work last Friday. He never imagined it would be their last day together.

And now Mr. Hubley, whom police charged Wednesday with driving without a licence, is left to reflect on his mistake in a crash that cost Diann Marie Weeks her life."

"Charges expected after pickup rams into house

PICTOU (CP) — It was a typical night in front of the television for Donald Gendron — until a pickup truck slammed into his house.

“It was so loud that the neighbours up on the next street and down below heard the crash,” says Gendron."

This one is deserving of a muppet award:

"Driver who slammed into boulders sues HRM


A Halifax woman who drove her car into a row of boulders on a municipal street is claiming the city did not provide adequate signage to warn motorists that the road comes to an end.

Fatina Elkurdi filed a lawsuit against Halifax Regional Municipality in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on Monday.

According to court documents, it was foggy on June 10, 2006, the night Ms. Elkurdi was driving her 1997 Hyundai Accent on Prospect Road near Peggys Cove.

It was just before 11 p.m. when she pulled into a gas station for a drink. When she left, the documents said, she turned right onto Evergreen Place, thinking it was Prospect Road.

Ms. Elkurdi then drove a ways on Evergreen at the posted speed limit of 50 kilometres an hour until she spotted a row of boulders blocking her path."

"Car accident sends man to hospital


A 45-year-old man ended up in hospital after he lost control of his car and slammed into a parked vehicle in Spryfield on Monday evening.

The man was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre after his Chrysler Intrepid hit the parked vehicle on Williams Lake Road and slid onto private property at about 8:15 p.m."

"Woman killed in crash
Parking lot entrance was also scene of fatal accident in March

By DAN ARSENAULT Staff Reporter

A woman died in a car crash Friday afternoon near the same Dartmouth parking lot where a man died following a similar midday collision in late March.

At 12:39 p.m., the 45-year-old victim was a passenger in a Chevrolet Corsica that tried to enter the lot at Ben’s Bakery and Dave’s Farm Market at 322 Main St., according to police."

"Funeral held for beloved young mom killed in crash

By DAVENE JEFFREY Staff Reporter

Raella Haines was remembered Thursday as a kind, gentle young mother with a winning personality who knew how to pick out a killer pair of shoes.

“She loved people. People loved to be around her,” Pastor Glen Lucas said as he tried to comfort nearly 350 mourners during the afternoon funeral service at the Atlantic Funeral Home in Dartmouth."

"Friends pour out their grief

By BEVERLEY WARE South Shore Bureau

BRIDGEWATER — It was the wee hours of the morning in January and Mindy Baker’s car broke down on Highway 10 just outside Bridgewater. The nearby Irving was open, so she went in for help.

Tanya Robar was inside laughing away with her co-workers. She had just spilled gasoline on a cut on her hand and was joking about the hazards to which she was now exposed. She laughed and cracked jokes and Mindy Baker joined in.

"She seemed like such a wonderful person, hell-bent on making people smile and laugh, and I could tell that in just the few hours that I spent there," wrote Ms. Baker on Facebook on a site friends and relatives set up as a memorial to Ms. Robar, one of the five people killed in an horrific crash Sunday afternoon at Exit 11 on Highway 103."

Now, this isn't Toronto, but for the size of Halifax that seems pretty high.

* I know lots of people who have been injured in auto accidents; I also knew several who died in auto accidents. I know several people who've been injured while biking, but I don't personally know anyone killed while biking (although I've heard of people like Ken Kifer).

* Statistically, it's safer. The canonical example is the Failure Analysis Associates study:

Fatalities per million hours
Skydiving = 128.71
General aviation = 15.58
On-road motorcycling = 8.80
Scuba diving = 1.98
Living (all causes of death) = 1.53
Swimming = 1.07
Snowmobiling = 0.88
Passenger cars = 0.47
Water skiing = 0.28
Bicycling = 0.26
Flying (domestic airlines) = 0.15
Hunting = 0.08
Cosmic radiation from transcontinental flights = 0.035
Home living (active) = 0.027
Traveling in a school bus = 0.022
Compiled by Failure Analysis Associates, Inc. (Design News, 10/4/93)

So statistically, driving (or simply being inside) a car is almost twice as likely as cycling to end in death.

* Another comment is that I would be safer with a steel cage around me. My personal opinion is that cars are too safe, so people tend to take risks they wouldn't otherwise. My solution would be to ban airbags and replace them with a metal spike in order to concentrate the driver's mind. I doubt this would be accepted, though.

The flip side of having a steel cage for protection is the massive increase in inertia, increasing the stopping distance dramatically. The effect of this is that if a car suddenly pulls out in front, a big heavy vehicle has less chance of stopping in time and avoiding an accident than a small light vehicle (ie, bicycle). Naturally, most people want to buy an SUV because it's "safer" (presumably so long as it doesn't roll over, anyway).

* Anecdotally, after seeing how people drive at high speeds on the highway for the past few weeks while I've been going to medical appointments, I really don't want to be out there. Just this morning we had a car approximately 3 meters from our rear bumper (or at least, so close to us I couldn't see his rear bumper). At the time we were traveling at 110km/hr overtaking a large tractor trailer; one gust of wind blasting through the slipstream off the truck would have been enough to slow us enough to hit the car behind, causing an accident.

Maybe when gas hits $5/liter it will have an effect. $1/liter certainly didn't seem to make any difference...

I'm starting to heal up pretty well. I've started physio, and as part of it I've been having Laser therapy. It sounds like the biggest crock of crystal healing ley line garbage, and I wasn't expecting anything much out of it, but rather surprisingly it's done the trick - after not being able to do anything with my right arm last week due to the pain of moving it, I can now get dressed without pain, tie shoelaces (albeit very carefully) and scratch my left shoulder, so I'm quite a ways ahead. The physio is helping, but I think it's going to take a while; the muscles in my right arm have wasted away so much I can't even lift my right arm without help from my left. I can at least straighten the arm out, after being stuck in one position for so long it was great to finally straighten it out - after I'd got over the pain of all the muscles tearing...

Back in to have an X-Ray and see the surgeon tomorrow, with any luck I should have some good news...

Monday, June 04, 2007

Halifax Alleycat

As requested by Jen, here's the info on the alleycat this week:

As I warm up to the idea of liability insurance and respecting municipal law, the next Alleycat conveniently lines up with the HRM's bike week. Don't worry though, you can expect an alleycat like any other, only with a longer course than usual and more beer at the finish line.

Friday, June 8th, 7.30pm
Charlies' Club, 5580 Cunard St.
$10 with a donation to the food bank

see y'all there

Yet more accident info

After a few comments and e-mails from people who read my blog I finally got around to posting an update on how my accident is going. I had the pins taken out and that is all started to heal over, my bruised ribs are healed, and my left thumb is starting to knit together. Before I left after having the pins taken out I managed to get a printout of the x-ray of my arm with the pins still in it - here's what it looked like:

After the pins were taken out the nurse offered to let me keep them. Normally the hospital keeps them but she said, "you look like the kind of person who would like to take these as a souvenir". So, this is what I had in my arm for several weeks - and yes, it is about the diameter of a bicycle spoke, for scale.

I'm now starting to cut down on my painkillers, I went to the doctor and she said I should cut down on them after giving me a prescription for 60 tablets. This is also the doctor who said "I don't want to worry you are thinking of brain cancer". As a result, I think most of the pills are going to end up going back to the pharmacy. I'm almost off the painkillers now and I'm feeling quite a bit that as a result. The painkillers made me quite dozy and tired so it makes quite a change not to be sleeping around 15 hours a day.

I am pretty stuck right now but I is essentially only have four fingers to type with, and the speech recognition doesn't work too well with UNIX commands such as ls *txt | awk {'print "mv -vi $1" "$1".old"'} | sh - try to read that count, and the dictation software ends up with: LS Stott TXT type or left curly bracket quote print will quote MV -- GRI L-1 quarks" tall one.old quote" right curly bracket part shell. Unsurprisingly the computer find this difficult to understand.

I'm now off work until the end of June and I will be able to run my bike until the middle of July. This puts the kibosh on my plans to ride my bike from Port aux Basque to Cornerbrook in the summer with my father when my parents come to visit.

I managed to see a couple of brief flashes of critical mass on Friday last from a couple of WebCams in downtown Halifax. He said came over before and and picked up the bicycle trailer for his son - I'm pretty sure that was him that I saw pulling a trailer, hopefully Owen is enjoying it.

To answer some comments on the blog:

Revrunner, Nova Scotia has a $2500 pain-and-suffering cap. From talking to the insurance people I'll get the full amount, plus all my expenses reimbursed.

Dougii, I'd be interested in following up on it but I suspect it's now too long in the pins come out of it. I have the accident number written down somewhere, if you think that would do any good let me know and I'll e-mail it over - I'd be interested to know if the guy ended up getting a ticket or not.

Michelle, I medical expenses are currently running at around $300. Most of those are from the ambulance ride, which cost me $120. Most of the other stuff is just odds and ends of costs that aren't covered by health insurance, but will be paid by the other guys insurance when I make a claim.

Timo, I run my own server so I host my images on my own machine. Your best bet if you are looking for something free is probably to look at something like Flickr.

Ludwig, this is my second major accident in the past year. In total, I think I'm up to around 10 accidents of varying severity. Halifax is unfortunately not a particularly bike friendly city, at least not when one gets out of the downtown core and cars start speeding up and stop paying attention. All I can really do is wait for the oil to run out.