Thursday, December 30, 2010

Trauma Sponges

Work has been relatively slow past couple shifts, which is a nice respite after the go-go-cuckoo-ness of the middle of the month. Sure, we're still digging out fire hydrants and stumbling through knee-deep drifts from the street to the sidewalks, and the putative emergency routes are actually less wide than the single-sided streets thanks to the new no-fly zone the plows have been observing five feet from the curbs. Also, the regular work world is in that end-of-year torpor where half the offices are on vacation and flex schedules, teletubby commuting, and those of us on shift work keep wondering when the request for more shovels and toilet paper will be stamped and forwarded. Since the weekend before Xmas, there's been a skeleton crew in the Admin offices, which gives a sense of rudderlessness to the ship of state for those of us out in the satellite stations. Are you there, boss? It's me, your staff.

Xmas season is hard, and we managed to avoid, for the most part, depression tragedies. I've caught a few over the past decade: home for the holidays is too much, so the sad person disappears for a few hours, never to return. Shitty thing to do to the family. Others just give out: multiple natural-death discoveries over this period. Perhaps no greater number than regular days, but the holiday veneer makes it seem worse.

We had a near-miss, or save, I guess, last night. A teenager had been busted smoking weed (with her adult uncle...yay, family) and grounded. She spent day half-pouting, as is the wont of grounded teens, then ingested all the pills she could find. The family thought she was just sleeping and pouting; in fact, one of the older women in the house was resting on the bed with her, thinking it was a nap, when they saw she was turning blue. We got her breathing again and the medics got the narcan into her, bringing her back around. Two hours later, she'd have been left to sleep all night, and forever.

I gave her a parental/teacherly lecture in the ambulance: 'No matter how bad you feel today, it WILL get better. Tomorrow will come. It's hard to believe that when you're in the middle of it, but it does get better.'
She stared at me through her gummy, lidded eyes, doubt and refusal the only focusing energy coming through the narcotic haze. I'm sure I don't know what her life is like, but the risk with teens, as evidenced here, is their sense of perspective is so short and myopic that they take rash actions over nothing. The dust will settle but the suicide won't.

Three shifts ago, we had a fender bender where all the passengers of the medical transport service immediately claimed injuries. They were so ingrained in the victim cycle, so self-selecting as injured and victimized, the thought that they were NOT hurt never crossed their minds. We'd had a boy jump/leap/fall fifty feet onto the road: THAT was injured. This was bullshit. After checking the passengers, investigating the cars for impact-damage (relative speed indications), I could barely muster civil, professional neutrality. The mother whining about all her injured parts, while moving freely and sighing about the inconvenience of it all--she tested me. We're not allowed to tell people they are, in our opinions, fucking weak, fucking faking, fucking whiny, but, honestly, when we witness the on-going abuse of the system, it's hard not to point out the bullshit. I certainly tell all the smokers who call us for their respiratory problems that their continued habit of smoking is making their breathing problems worse, and, by implication, wasting our time. Why should we rush through shitty streets to get here because your poor lungs can't get good oxygen through the dank, dense curtain of nicotine and ash clotting everything?

And tomorrow night is amateur night. Let's hope for a paucity of drunk stupidity.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Opposable thumbs

We lose our autonomy in the vats of our comfort and complacency. A metric fuck-ton of snow fell at warp speed. There's only so much snow the plows can clear. We were shoveling the apron at the station every 90 minutes instead of 2-4 hours and we were behind. Surprise! Nature won. Yet people act as if there should be an app for that. Harden up and shovel more fucking snow. (Too, Mpls plows can/could aim for within a five meter reach of the curb; even on the putative Emergency streets, there's barely room for two Priuses to pass with Smart Cars parked on either curb.)

The hypocritical invocation of Xmas' sanctity in name of ... Republican politicians not-voting for benefits for the same patriotic workers whose visages papered their campaign literature (when it was convenient); now, they're as suspect and greedy as anchor babies. Religious smugness vs. anti-commercial smugness vs. not-so-veiled anti-Other mean-spiritedness: Reclaim Xmas. Reclaim America. Reclaim the Constitution (that thing tattered, shredded, Patriot Act-ed, and water-boarded until barely a postage-stamp sized memo during Good Old Days of W. Bush).

I saw a treacly piece of not-news about one of those guys who never drops the mask of Santa, 'just spreading Xmas cheer all year round.' It's a story. If I committed to playing Captain Ahab, or Hester Prynne, or MacBeth (Lady or Her Mister, Chauncy MacBeth), would people find it a sweet gesture for literacy? If I went deep to play a Harry Potter character, or the Tooth Fairy, or Satan, would they interview me on a slow 'news' cycle weekend?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

So, there was some snow? And, it totally, you know, fell. All over everywhere. And then more snow felt. The eskimos ran out of fucking words for snow, because we had so much fall today--and they probably don't have enough words for 'dumb-ass blindly determined drivers repeatedly miring their cars in deep snow.' I realize you live JUST OVER THERE, but the street really is impassible. Not for everyone but you, but for everyone other than Santa.

It's gorgeous outside, but the trick is that the temps are plummeting. Already kissing zero and heading south. Won't be above ten until Weds. That's depressing. Strong winds are depressing. Etc. Etc.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cyclotic Summary

I wanted to train & race more at the track all summer; three nights I had work trades set up, we were rained out. The final day of the season, rained out. I took the class in May, where three classes were rain-affected, but didn't get to race until early August. Good, in a way, because the beginner's men class is/was clogged with, well, beginners. A range of skills and speeds, with higher likelihood of crashing. My goal was to avoid a bad crash. It's a lot of fun, and I hope to do more of it next year.

I completed three of the AGRS races (100 mile gravel self-supported endeavors). There are those who race, and those who ride. I'm safely and deeply in the latter, but it's still a great deal of fun and challenge. I had to pull out of the fourth event, the Heck of the North, due to work. It was the week following the Gentleman's Ride, aka Almanzo Redux, which put sufficient hurt on me to disincline me to ride, even if I'd been able to get up there. Beautiful terrain, but hard shit.

And there are cats who RACE-race these things. Tuck and pedal hard for 100 miles of gravel, hills, descents, more gravel. Yikes.

I pulled something in my left elbow doing a ridiculously hilly ride in SW Wisconsin. Dairyland Dare is no joke, either. For the flat middle of the country, there're a lot of damn steep hills/valleys.

The men & women on Behind-Bars/LGR have been most welcoming this season. I am old enough to be the father of a few of them, but it's been a great time. While I'm continuing to 'build my base' (and I'll do that until I'm just stuck in a slow gear/land), while also developing racing skills, endurance, speed, handling skills, power, balance, etc, those around me were actively racing. I looked over the cyclocross results for Cat-4s, and recognized a handful of gents I was generally finishing with. It's pretty apparent that the starting positions made a decent difference for the short-lap races. The one time I wasn't in the way back, I had a glimmer of 'Hey, this might actually land me above the bottom-third!' and then someone ran over my rear wheel, knocking me to the VERY back. I never ended up DFL, and learned a little bit over the course of the season. It's hard and really, really fun.

My intention to ride all winter is tempered by my desire not to wipe out on ice/snow. Lots of people live by their bikes, but I acknowledge my fear of falling trumps noble intentions and daring desires.

Oh, and then we got a puppy...