May you live an interesting life

I’ve had an interesting weekend. In the Chinese-proverb sense of the word.

Friday night I got an email from dad informing me pop was in hospital. This wouldn’t normally bother me too much as it’s not an uncommon occurrence. That dad felt it necessary to send me an email, however, was unusual. When I spoke to him thirty minutes later – I’d been intending to call shortly anyway – I got very much the impression that this was not a run of the mill case.

But I was optimistic for him. It did really reinforce the costs of having moved here, overseas. Obviously my presence there would not have done anything useful, but for my own sake it would have been easier.

Anyway, I couldn’t really do much so I got on with things. On Saturday F2 messaged me about riding La Honda, which I thought was swell idea given the brief outbreak of lovely weather here this weekend, so we went and did that. Well, half of it. We rode from my place up to Alice’s, stopped there for fifty minutes or so to have a burger and some drinks… it wasn’t too bad getting up there, slightly easier than the first time I did it, and good to have F2 setting the pace, providing encouragement…

We’d been discussing in detail the route back, via Portola and Alpine, and were all psyched and ready to enjoy the fruits of all that hard work collecting gravitational energy. Alas, not too far down as we were going around a corner, F2 suddenly wobbled, hit the guard rail, and disappeared over the side. I slammed on the brakes, nearly lost it myself, ran over his bike, but managed to stop.

He wasn’t in good shape. He wasn’t trying to get up and his breathing was extremely laboured. There’s really no chance of surviving a crash like that without serious injury – we were going at least 30mph at the time, as measured by his bike’s trip computer, and metal guard rails designed to stop three ton SUVs don’t have much elasticity for humans. I hoped he was mostly just winded, and I think he was, but that really was the least of his worries.

When I jumped the railing to see if he was okay, the first thing I happened to find was $20 half-buried in the dirt. “I don’t suppose you can appreciate the irony that I just found twenty dollars?” “NO”. Fair enough.

When we’d been at Alice’s we’d been lamenting the lack of mobile reception there.

“Call 911-“. “Ah, yeah, about that… remember how we were just talking about no service?”

I tried to wave down the passing cars, and while they seemed jolly amused and slowed down to wave back, none of them seemed to make the connection “two bikes, one dude, trying to wave us down”. Morons.

Luckily F2 had picked a good spot to crash – right above Grandview Drive. So I rode round the corner and down to one of the houses. A middle-aged guy answered the door, already on the phone. “I’m really sorry to bother you, but could you call 911 for me please; my friend’s just come off his bike”. He nodded seemingly knowingly, told the other end of the phone he’d have to call them back, he had to take care of a bicyclist, and called 911. He provided the address and directions, and proxied a conversation between me and the 911 operator to get the various details. The first question they asked was whether a car was involved. This is not a surprising thing, sadly; it just proves what arseholes you can run into up on those roads.

Five minutes later, a fire truck and two emergency vehicles arrived from up the road, and casually set about the long process of processing F2. We were later joined by an emergency bike (I think), an ambulance, and a police car. They blocked La Honda for the thirty or forty minutes we were there, for which I feel terrible about for the hundreds of people stuck in queues up and down the hill, and to whom I can fully empathise having been on that side of the police line before.

Anyway, I kept well out of their way, holding an IV for a while (which they didn’t actually use), and the plastic board on which they eventually strapped F2 and lifted him up back onto the road with. He had sat up a couple of times initially, before I’d gone to call 911, so I doubted he had any kind of paralysing back injury, so the whole laborious process of trauma-stretchering him into the ambulance seemed kind of excessive, though in hindsight I wouldn’t have had it any other way – it’s not worth the risk of being frivolous with an accident like that.

I was actually more worried about organ damage, at the time – he’d hit and tumbled too fast for me to really grasp what happened, so – given he said it was his back that hurt – I figured he’d hit back first, and was worried he might have burst a kidney or somesuch. Broken ribs seemed a likely thing, too.

Anyway, the ambulance took him off to Stanford Emergency Center, one of the fire fighters took his bike back up to the fire station, and I rode back to Stanford. Nobody offered me a lift to the hospital with him, but, I’m certain they would have given as much if I’d asked; many of the emergency crew there didn’t realise I was actually with him – they presumed I was just some other random rider that had found him.

I made good time to Stanford though – probably my best yet.

It took a while before I could get in to see him – when I first got there I was only fifteen or so minutes behind the ambulance, which I’d seen go past me as I was riding up Sand Hill, and they didn’t have him in their computer system yet. The receptionist went and found him, though, and after a little while I was able to go in.

I was simply impressed by how well he was taking it all, that he was still perfectly reasonable, calm, humourable… in a great deal of pain, even for all the morphine and whatnot, but still in good spirits.

I stayed for two hours or so, until Danielle arrived and we had to tag ’cause of their 1-visitor rule. I’d called Follis, Danielle and his parents earlier, the latter of which was quite stressful since his mum couldn’t understand me to any useful degree at all, and his dad didn’t have much of an easier time. It’s extremely difficult to not freak people out unnecessarily when all they know is that someone they don’t know has called them from their son’s mobile and the only word they really made out was “hospital”.

Luckily, though it took some time and very careful pro-nun-see-aye-shun I eventually conveyed the whole story, particularly that he was going to be fine. Or at least I hope I did.

Once tagged out I figured I should get home, which I did, but only long enough to get my car keys and head to F2’s place to get him some clothes – they cut him out of all his, which seemed a little gratuitous – and head back to the hospital.

An hour or so later, we finally left the hospital, and F2 got to go home. The timing for this accident was particularly shit on account of the house party long ago scheduled for that night. Which went ahead – F2 wouldn’t have it not – but was a little put out by his absence for most of it; when I got there, shortly after he had, he’d just finished telling his hilarious tale to everyone there, before heading upstairs to rest a bit.

The party was very good, sadly for F2. I had a great time, though not too late a night – home by 2am or so.

On Sunday I went down to the Ski & Snowboard Expo in San Jose. I wandered around for a bit, checked things out, casually looking to get a snowboard set, and ultimately bought instead some ski boots. For roughly the same cost – $240 or so. If I have trouble again with my toes, with these boots, I’m going to hunt down the sales assistant and throttle him with their laces.

When I got home, I rang dad, at work, to see how pop was doing. I knew just from the few words Nikki said that something was wrong. It turns out, he passed away at what would have been around 2:30 this morning, my time.


And that pretty much brings us to the present. I’m determinedly not thinking too much about it right now, but there’s not much else to do that wouldn’t feel completely pointless or ridiculous or …


The older generations are really so selfish. ;)

There’s no ascii smiley, of which I’m familiar, that can express “I’m being facetious and irreverent in the absence of any other option”.

Now it’s just logistics, I guess – finding out when the funeral and everything else will be, and seeing about flying over there for it, if reasonable.

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