Sunday, June 22, 2008

Crackheads and Broken Fingers

It's weird. I had definite thoughts this morning that it had been a while since I required a hospital visit due to a bicycle injury. I don't let things like that freak me out though, so off we went.

I sold Matt my old bike a month or two back and he seems to be enjoying it. He definitely wants to expand his horizons as far as bike trails are concerned and is riding things a lot more aggressively...which may sound counter-intuitive but aggressive riding = confidence = riding shit without killing yourself.

So I thought today would be a good day to pop his shuttle cherry. I had a nice trail on Seymour picked out (one of my favourites, actually, and one of the only things I like to ride on Seymour) and off we went. Me, Matt and Marty. We got about 30 seconds into the trail, no exaggeration, and Matt rode head on into a tree. I don't even know how he did it. I think he just panicked a bit on a wooden section and steered it right into a tree. I got a really bad feeling about things. His brake lever was twisted in a strange way and I was really surprised that we were able to bend it back (reasonably) straight. He seemed okay so off we went. Nobody did anything all that stupid for a while and we were having a good ride.

I will admit that the trail had some gnarly sections on it. We were doing okay though. I'd stop above them, point it out, tell them what to expect and generally leave it up to them to make a decision on whether to ride it or not. We got down a bit lower and reached a section that was quite loose. As I rolled into it I said "This is pretty gnarly up here. I'd think about it before you ride it."

Sure enough, I dropped in and it was pretty loose and took a bit of finessing to make it down in one piece. I got off my bike and yelled up to them that they should probably walk it. Marty smacked his nuts off his stem even before he got to the section so he hobbled around for a minute and then decided to walk it. I didn't think there'd be a question that Matt would walk it, but there he went...he seemed to be doing okay and then I saw him heading over the bars.

It was a pretty rocky section but I thought he would be okay. He was yelling as soon as he stopped but I thought it was the good kind of yelling. You know, "I'm okay, I'm okay!" But then he kept yelling and we ran up to see what was up. He kept saying "I think I broke my finger I think I broke my finger I think I broke my finger." I didn't take him all that seriously but then when he suggested we should take his glove off to make sure a bone wasn't sticking out I figured there might be more to it.

So he slowly pulled his glove off and...good was gruesome. Nothing poking out but it had a really unnatural kink to it. I'm alright dealing with injuries, I just don't really like thinking about it. I suggested we somehow bind it to his other finger and work from there. We had no tape, no knife, no nothing. We decided that we'd splint his good finger and then wrap the bad finger to his good one. This was an okay plan until I was about to touch his finger. He thought twice about it and actually looked like he might get violent if we tried to touch it. We decided to sling his arm up to his chest so that at least his hand wasn't moving around. Then Marty walked him out with his bike and I took on the job of getting mine and Matt's bike out of the trail. This didn't seem to be all that difficult.

We were at least a half hour hike into this trail. At least. So, I ended up riding my bike 15-20 seconds down the trail, running back up and then leap-frogging my bike with Matt's. I hate hate hate riding other peoples bikes but since his was mine only a few months ago, it seemed like it wouldn't be too difficult. Holy crap. By the time we got to the bottom I was ready to collapse. I didn't really think it would be all that difficult but I guess looking back it was the equivalent of a quick 10 minute rip down a trail, followed by running back to the top of it and riding right back down it again for 10 minutes. It was pretty steep so I was absolutely bagged by the time I got to the bottom. Matt made it out without too much difficulty and we had a quick little 10 minute ride out on a gravel hiking path to the car.

I had a few ideas for what we would do with the bikes but they all seemed to be coming up empty. We decided to ditch the bikes at Matt's boss' place down the street. Then we were going to go to the hospital, drop him off, drive over, get my car, pick up the bikes, go back to the hospital...and on and on.

Well, we took him to the hospital and holy shit was it ever bizarre. As we rolled in they were dealing with a couple that had been in a car accident. We saw their jeep later on (about 10 feet up an embankment leading onto the 2nd Narrow) in the evening and it was all fucked up. Apparently they were both wasted and we could overhear the nurses asking the firemen and paramedics how far they'd been thrown from the vehicle. Yikes.

There was also a 10-year-old kid with blood streaming from the top of his head. He was crying a bit, then he stopped, asked his mom why there were so many police officers there, and then started crying again.

Oh, and then there was the squeegee kid lookin' dude around the corner who had handcuffs on that he was gnawing on them(I didn't actually see the gnawing, but that's what they told me) telling people not to worry because they were his own handcuffs. He was sitting there rather peacefully an hour of so later without them on, so I tend to believe him.

So, we got Matt in there and then ran and got the car. When we got back to the hospital they had him in a different waiting room and he'd befriended one of the paramedics that had been treating the couple in the car accident. Apparently one of them had started freaking out and had somehow pulled his IV out and jabbed it into her arm or hand or something. She said it was worse 6 months ago when a junkie on the downtown east side had pulled on out and stabbed her in the shoulder with it. Nice.

So, Matt was telling us to leave him there and he could take a cab home. We didn't think that was a great idea so we told him we'd run, grab some food, chill out for a bit and bring him back something to eat. Sliced brisket sandwich from Memphis Blues...oh man. I'm still feeling it. We grabbed Matt a pulled pork and got back just as the doctor came over to treat him. Incidentally, I've never seen somebody eat a pulled pork sandwich so quickly.

Honestly....that was pretty funny as when we had it tied to his body the finger poked off at a crazy angle from his hand so it looked like he was flashing a pretty bad-ass "Westside" hand sign. That's how fucked up it was. So, the doctor had frozen it up pretty good before we got there, just kinda marched over and started pulling quite violently on his finger. I couldn't watch. He was telling us that we could have, maybe should have tried to do this while we were out on the trail. We explained that Matt probably would have punched us each in the face if we'd tried to do that on the trail. So, he pulled it back straight, wrapped it to the other finger and then put this fiberglass thing on it, wrapped it and we were good to go. He decided to take another batch of X-rays.

Oh man...those X-rays....the before was gruesome. The bone was completely broken in two and the angle that finger was sticking off at...good lord. The after X-ray was impressive though. The finger was completely straight, just cracked in two. He suggested it might be alright just like that but figured a hand surgeon should take a look at it to make sure. They gave him some Morphine pills and we were drive back over to Seymour to pick up the bikes.

I must say though, all in all, it was a pretty good experience. It was 3 hours at the hospital from check-in to check-out, which doesn't seem all that bad to me. And then, being at the hospital it was pretty nice to look around and think "Man...these people are fucked up. I'm glad we're only dealing with a broken finger." Ladder accidents. Gruesome car accidents. All kinds of shit.

And...I'm really glad that Adrienne (Matt's wife) seemed to take it all in stride as well. I was worried that we'd not only have to worry about the hospital and picking up the bikes and all that, but then we'd have to throw a hysterical wife into the mix, demanding an immediate pick-up to come out to the hospital. Calm and rational is always nice to deal with.

So, I'm definitely throwing some tape and tylenol into my backpack. Maybe some popsicle sticks too. And I've learned a bit of a lesson about riding alone. I mean, we probably would have been in trouble if there had been two of us. Anybody facing that alone would have problems. Three made it manageable.

I'll post the X-rays if I get a copy.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I think we've lost...Plus fishing photos!

I was over at a friends place last night and I met this dude that is some kind of rep for Universal Music. He was a nice guy and I enjoyed talking to him. However, his views and mine on music, labels and the new Copyright bill didn't really jive.

I can't remember exactly what we talked about but at one point he said something to me along the lines of "Only 2% of the acts on our label make money, the other 98% don't. In essence, 2% of the acts are subsidizing the other 98%." His point with this was twofold:

1) Look at how great we are by supporting all these bands that don't make us money.

2) Look at all these bands that don't make money, how can you take food from their mouths?

First up, I call total fucking bullshit on this stat. I was thinking about it today and I remembered this Steve Albini article from a few years back. Read it (if you have any interest in how labels handle bands).

So, maybe it is fair to say "98% of the bands on our label don't get a fucking cent from us" but I don't think it's fair to say these bands aren't making money for the label. And that, my friends, is the entire point. The OLD system was great for the major labels. The bands had nowhere else to go. They had to take what they could get from the majors or nobody would ever hear their music. The NEW system is great for the consumer. And I'm not even talking about free music. I'm talking about access to shit that we never, ever, ever could have accessed before. Freedom for bands to do things on their own or stick with a smaller label. Bands made and found through word of mouth and yes, through file sharing, that would never have stood a chance before. This system will never, ever disappear. These new laws will just create martyrs out of a few unlucky bastards that happen to get caught.

So, on to the fishing. This past week was the annual Ucluelet fishing trip. I was hoping the weather was going to be better, but at least it didn't rain. Ucluelet is a pretty interesting place filled with interesting people.

The first day was salmon fishing in the sound south of Ucluelet. This area is my favourite place to visit in the area. It's always a lot more interesting to have land on either side of you and to watch eagles flying around. Fishing for salmon is also a lot more interesting.

Things started out really slow. We didn't get a bite for a while. I caught the first fish, but it was just a little rock fish. The guides are always baffled by my dad when he wants to keep them. I'm not sure what the hell he does with them, but he likes them.

Eventually we caught some salmon. Poor Mike (my brother-in-law) had the first salmon on but he lost it. You can tell that my dad has to use all his self restraint to prevent himself from yelling at Mike when he loses a fish. Soon after that, my brother and Dad both hauled in a Spring each. One was 18, the other was 19 pounds. Then I got one on but it broke the leader. I was a bit bummed about that.

The next day we headed out to the open ocean for some halibut fishing. As I mentioned, this isn't usually as exciting as fishing for Salmon. There's a lot less to look at and when you do finally snag a halibut it's about as exciting as reeling in an old boot. The other problem with the halibut is the whole "open ocean" thing. Some people tend to get seasick.

I've only ever caught two Halibut in my life. The first one was a couple of years ago and I think it was about 35 pounds. And then, this guy...

Holy crap! 52 pounds of halibut is tough to reel in. It took a lot of my energy to get it to the boat. I have no idea how the guide got it into the boat. Here's another shot from the wharf.

The other cool thing about the day was the whales. We usually see a couple of whales, but I think we saw at least 30-40 whales over the course of the day. Although this picture doesn't really come across as terribly exciting, it is pretty cool just to be able to see an animal that large.

On the way back in, Mike pointed one out to us and we were looking over towards it. All of a sudden it rocketed out of the ocean. It's head must have been at least 15 feet in the air. The only thing still in the water was it's tail. It was crazy. It looked like this Ted Leo cover. No joke.

The next day, we slept in and walked around Ucluelet. Shit is going crazy development-wise. There's lots being cleared and houses being built all over the place. It's nice there, but I'm not sure what you'd do with all your spare time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The History of the Internet

I love Vanity Fair magazine. I love it. I don't actually read the magazine, but the website has most of the important stories and it's well worth checking out every month.

Especially interesting is this nice little History of the Internet that they've put together. It starts out a little bit slow, highlighting the technical developments in the 50's and 60's that lead to it's creation. But once it gets into the history of start-ups, information dissemination, Monica Lewinsky, etc. it's both informative and hilarious. It's difficult to remember how things were back then. This is a good reminder.

The most important bit of info from that article:

The information is a force that will bring power to everyday people and it cannot be stopped.

So...Why the fuck is the Conservative government trying to create a copyright police state with this new legislation? Why is this story in the Technology section? Honestly, this will seriously fuck shit up. Think about these points:

1) File sharing has created a legitimate form of distribution for independent music. It has created markets for small, obscure bands. Yes, it has busted the monopoly of major label music. It has taken away their ability to sell millions of shitty albums just because that is all that is available. This is not a bad thing. File sharing takes power away from music labels and gives it to everybody else.

2) This law may make it illegal for you to rip CD's that you own onto your iPod or Computer. The music industry said this was okay a few years ago (before iTunes) but now it isn't. Fuck that.

3) This law will allow hardware manufacturers to dictate how their product is used. Want to buy an iPhone in the US and use it in Canada? Nope. Not allowed to break their software locks. Want to use your XBox for something other than video games? Nope. Not allowed to break their software locks.

4) This law will not allow you to download a TV show that you may have missed that week. I mean, you might watch it every other week and you couldn't get back in time and being able to catch up on the Internet might actually ENCOURAGE interest in said show. But fuck you, you can't do it.

5) Not really attached to this law, but the government is working in tandem to make this happen...They actually want border guards to be able to look through files on your laptop and ipod and if they determine that you have pirated content they will be able to fine you and take your ipod or laptop away. I mean, who the fuck knows how they'll decide what is and isn't pirated...they just will and you'll be fucked.

This is a terrible, terrible law. I can't even begin to explain how angry it makes me. This deserves a note to your Member of Parliament. This deserves a note to the douchebag trying to stuff this shitty law down our throats. This deserves telling Stephen Harper to go to hell. Do it.

Oh. To end this off on a positive note, I never imagined I would ever live to embrace Canadian Bureaucracy. Honestly though, going through the motions of Incorporation and all that was very easy. I was shocked to be able to phone the Government up and get relevant answers without too much difficulty. We take it for granted that you fill out a simple form, give somebody $100 and you have a passport in a month or so. Ya, you might have to wait in line a bit, but that's dieing down. I'm thinking about obtaining a Hungarina Passport...holy shit. It doesn't seem like the difficulty will be in proving my eligibility, the difficulty will be the bureaucracy. Tonnes of money. Tonnes of hassles. 8-10 months waiting time. Bizarre.