Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bicycles, accidents and police

Here is a story from the NY Times regarding a confrontation between a bicyclist and a police officer. While you are drawing your own conclusions I'll tell you a story.

On September 30th 2004, about 4 pm, I was riding my bicycle on Massachusetts Avenue from my home in Dorchester, that is I was heading into town. I had only just started riding again after the summer during which I was struggling with medication resistance and the damage that AZT had done to my bone marrow. It felt good. After months of thinking that life was over I was starting feel like there was a future and strength would return. I was exercising, I was out in the free air, I was also fairly weak still and being quite cautious.

I am a long time bike rider- I started riding racing bikes in 1964, and I always rode fast. I discovered in high school that the guys who bullied me started to back off when I started to pass them on the long straight road that lead to the High School. They were in cars, I was on my bike. My philosophy of bike riding is that the cars can't hit you if you are going faster than they are.

But on that day in 2004 I discovered a flaw in that reasoning. Mass Ave, as we call it, gets a little complicated in the area where the food markets, Melnea Cass Bldv. and the exit from the central artery all converge. there is a huge detour around the fire department buildings, unexpected one way changes and very odd traffic patterns. In my hay day this would have been a signal to sprint- and perhaps if I had things would have been different, but I was cautious. There is a sidewalk on the left hand side, and I slowed down, got on the sidewalk, and was proceeding cautiously. As I was crossing Gerard Street, quite properly in the cross walk, a car came full speed down Mass Ave, turned into Gerard Street, and plowed into me. So much for being cautious. These are my memories: I remember flying through the air, thinking an expletive about not being able to "get out of this;" I remember coming to in the ambulance, I called my brother, I am told, and remember the EMT saying the car was doing 30 mph when it hit me; I remember having my clothes cut off and then a doctor apologizing profusely about how long I was in the Emergency Room. I assured her it was my quickest trip to an ER ever, I had no idea that it was midnight and I had been there for 6 hours. That's it, no memory of anything else.

Weeks later, when I went to get the police report, thinking of a nice law suit, I discovered that the officer, of whom I have no memory, entered a report saying that the car had been parked and that I ran into it, and in addition that I had been belligerent toward him. No explanation of how it happened that the front and rear wheels of my bicycle had been bent sideways, or of how the hood and windshield of the car had been damaged. I say nothing about how an unconscious person expressed his belligerence.

So that is what I have to say about bicycles and the police!

Watch this!

Here is a link to a film about Kevin Bright teaching blind students at Perkins School for the Blind to use a video camera. It is a "Must Watch!"

I am reminded, by one of the incidents in this short clip, of an exchange I witnessed, I should really say overheard, in the locker room of the Metropolitan Health Club many years ago. I should mention for the benefit of those who live in the real world that the Metropolitan Health Club was Boston's first avowedly gay gym. There was a blind fellow who worked out there and was quite popular, and he was chatting with another fellow while they were changing. I was in the next row of lockers but recognized the voices.

Our blind friend ask what the other had done over the weekend, to which he responded quite readily that he had gone out on a "blind date." By the time he finished the statement, however, he realized that he had probably transgressed all sorts of codes, manners and PC standards, and so without taking a breath started profuse apologies for making this thoughtless statement to one who was actually blind.

"No, no, it's fine, I use the term myself" said our very secure and grounded friend. But what followed was, to the ears of an eavesdropper, a foolish and continued insistence on the part of the sighted fellow that he was in error, while all the time the blind fellow was consoling and reassuring him.

I have learned how often it happens that it falls the lot of an assumed victim of affliction to take care of his comforters. I encourage you to watch the video!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Speaking of rain

I posted a photo last year- see Rain- which I had taken in response to a various comments I had heard at Emmanuel about our being in a bleak time of year. As it happens last year, at the end of March, we were also having a good bit of wet weather. While that photo made my point about color I was always dissatisfied with it. My Canon camera was new, and I eventually replaced the lens. This year on the same date we were having similar weather so I returned to the location, this is the result. The location is the Longwood stop on the green line. This is taken from the bridge over the Muddy River which brings on from Beth Israel via Winsor School, a route I travel all too frequently.

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's Raining Today So I Hope You Are Going Out!

I came in from the Friday Matinee at The Boston Symphony to find the message "It is raining today so I hope you are staying in." I had been reveling in the extraordinary beauty of the day on my way and on my return, the colors in the soft moist light, pinks and whites and the hot lavender of the early rhododendrons. The walk was ravishing. why would one stay in? I grabbed my camera in order to show you!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

An Explanation

A few days ago I open up this blog in order to send a new friend a link to it and was surprised to find new "followers" I will take advice on whether the quotations are correct in this context. This is a pleasant surprise, and makes me feel badly that I've been so negligent about making posts over the last months. A number of factors have been contributing, not the least a large increase in the difficulty I experience typing, these resulting from the neuropathy that I developed a few years ago. It seems that the nerves are not carrying the signals from my brain to my hands at the same speed, left and right. I sometime have to try two or three times to coordinate the cap shift with the intended letter. It has been very frustrating. I am getting around it however, and hope to be more communicative. Posting photos and poems is a way to get around that ofcourse so I will not make excuses, but try to be more attentive. Someone asked me a few weeks ago if I was a famous poet, I responded that yes, very famous, but only amongst a group of five people. Now I find the group is extended to eight, and I've been ignoring the possibilities. Mea Culpa!

What have I been doing all this time? I've been working on building projects at Emmanuel Church and reading Sir Walter Scott.

Every one asks why Scott? The answer is simply that other authors refer to him so frequently that it seemed like a sensible idea to familiarize myself with his writings. This intention received a solid push when I discovered a copy of "Guy Mannering" at a recent Boston Public Library book sale. While I was paying my dollar for it the librarian said wistfully,"Ah yes, Scott, ahhh, Guy Mannering, so dear, my favorite!

It turns out that picking favorites is very difficult. I struggled with the dialect in Guy Mannering, became completely hooked, and promptly decided that if one was going to struggle with the dialect and the vocabulary one had best get on with reading them all at once; which I have, pretty much. I'm reading all of the Waverly novels, in order as well as I can manage that, and am now up to "Woodstock," number 22 of 26.

The remark was made the other day that I must be some kind of masochist to attempt such a thing, but the truth is that they are all amazingly compelling, enormously interesting, and great fun to read. Taken as a whole they are an astounding accomplishment, and each is fresh and new and unique. I can't put them down which is something to say when reading the twenty second novel by the same author in the space of five months. There is no repeat of plot, or characters. There lurk surprises at every turn, and one can see very clearly the source of much in Dickens, Thackeray, Elliot, and Trollope. One also finds bizarre and convoluted premises for the tales- one person relating it to another who writes a memoir that gets read by a neighboring antiquary who tells us this story.... and heros who are ambivalent and blown by fate one way or another, bad guys who turn out to be essentially good and good guys who are motivated by evil, it's almost post modern.

I'll try to be better about sharing all this, but to be honest, until I'm finished, I just can't put them down!