Playing in traffic

After I left college, I dated John Schmidt. John was my second boyfriend in college, having dumped me for a senior, Nicole (who has since married Gaylon Lovelace). John and I lived with his older brother Dave, who has only 3 of his 9 lives left, is one of the luckiest men alive and keeps his guardian angel quite busy. We all lived in a one bedroom apartment in Monrovia, and later moved into a 3 bedroom house in Arcadia. Although the end of the relationship was hard, the beginning and middle were pretty darn good.

I have a lot of John Schmidt stories.

Some of them good.

John had a friend who was in many motorcycle accidents. His main mode of transportation was his motorcycle, so he rode a lot. Since more time on a motorcycle means greater exposure in traffic, he was at a greater risk for accidents.

When John first started spending time with this friend, he thought he was just one of the unlucky people who balanced the great cosmic scales with his amazingly lucky brother. The guy was in three motorcycle accidents, each time having been hit by the other driver, and survived each one. Sure, he sued the insurance companies, won each time as the other driver was clearly at fault, and had his medical bills paid for. He was hit three times: that was three times he could have died.

Just an unlucky guy, right?

John and I each purchased motorcycles soon after we started dating. We took the Motorcycle Safety Foundation CC Rider Safety class, learned safe riding, rode defensively. John enjoyed the experience more than I, and would ride more than I. He would often go riding with this friend.

One evening, John came home in a fit. He threw down his helmet (not really), and talked in a huff about his friend and his riding style. Turns out, sure, the friend always rode the speed limit, but he didn't ride in a safe location. He would ride in other drivers' blind spots. Or he would approach a car from behind at high speeds, not giving a driver a chance to see him. He would assume the other drivers saw him, instead of assuming they didn't.

So, sure, the accidents were technically the fault of the other driver, but the friend could have driven in such a way to prevent his being in a dangerous position: he could have prevented the accidents if he drove differently.

Last night, Kris and I were walking the dogs along our normal route. As we approached an intersection, Kris stopped at the corner with the dogs. The girls aren't allowed to cross the street without being told it's okay, so Kris always stops at intersections with the dogs. I often continue walking, as the three of them will always catch back up.

I started crossing the street, noticing a car approaching the intersection from the right. The intersection is a four way stop sign, so I think little of the car. It was approaching the intersection fast (25, maybe 30 mph), but it started slowing as it approached.

Slowing, but not stopping.

The car went right through the intersection.

Straight through.

Towards me.

I was still crossing the street when I heard Kris cry, "Watch out!" I planted my left foot and spun around, pushing off as hard as I could.

The car missed my back foot by less than 8".

I turned back around and screamed some completely unintelligible curse words, raising my hand up in an angry gesture at the red Acura with a license plate with a 4ND in it. The car screeched to a stop a short distance down the street.

The driver didn't get out of the car. He did see the angry woman gesturing menacingly at him. No one was hurt, he drove away.

Kris hurried up to me, to see if I were okay. The adrenaline rush was fading, causing the sick, tired feeling in my whole body. I was fine, just a bit shaken up.

The incident started me thinking though. Is there something I'm doing, or not doing, when I walk that is causing drivers to just not see me? Do I need to walk more defensively? Could the problem be that I force my pedestrians-have-the-right-of-way right-of-way too much, or in situations where, sure, I have the right of way, but if I'm dead, it's small consolation.

 It was funny at 1:00 am

Last night, after watching another episode of Ultimate Fighter, a nominally bad, "mixed martial arts, reality, sports, non-event" series on Spike TV where 16 guys compete for a contract with the Ultimate Fighters Championship in Survivor-like challenges and beat-the-shit out of each other elimination rounds, Kris and I cleaned up the living room a bit. Note, I say, "nominally bad," but I watch religiously every week, Kris watches it with me, we'll be watching the finals on April 9th and don't think for one second I'm not paying the $40 Pay-Per-View fee to watch Coture and Liddell beat the crap out of each other in the Championship showdown on the 16th (go Coture!).

Whoops, side-tracked there.

I had recently rearranged the furniture and moved several pieces out of the living room, opening it up, making it look bigger. You could see the rugs in the room, for the first time in a long while.

While wandering into the space, marvelling we had so much:

Me: "Wow, look at all this open space. I think I should fill it."

Kris: "Therein lies the problem."

Kris then proceeded to show me just how nice having the extra space can be. He arranged a few of the couch pillows on the floor, and, stepping back, ran across the room, and took a flying leap into the pillows.

Although the first shot is my favorite, Kris was determined to get a good picture of himself completely horizontal.

I haven't laughed so hard in months. My stomach is still aching from laughter 12 hours later.

 Letters to My Children: Try Your Hardest, But Know You May Still Fail

One of the hardest things to accept is that the good guys do not always win. They don't always wear white, and they don't always win. In the same train of thought, you can try your hardest, you can give it your all until you have nothing left, and you still might fail.

You can have the biggest heart, the most passion, and the strongest desire.

And you still might fail.

A sad fact of life is that even when you try very hard, you may not always get the results you want. It's going to happen, my child. You will fail.

Aw, Mom, I hear you whining. Why are you such a downer? Why do you have to tell me this? You're supposed to cheer me on. You're supposed to always tell me to keep trying, never give up, try harder, better luck next time, chin up kiddo, I'll get them next time.

And I will. I'll keep telling you these things. I'll keep singing positive songs, cheering you on, encouraging you to be more than either I or your father could have imagined.

But I'll also tell you that the reality is you will fail over and over and over again.

What you do after you fail reflects more of who you really are than any victory could ever do.

Because this is the way it is, kid. Everyone fails at some point. Professional baseball players miss the ball 7 out of every 10 times they step up to the plate. And those are the good ones!

Professional (American) football players need 4 tries to move the ball 10 yards. 4 tries! With flags and penalties, they often get more. And even with those four tries, they will fail to score more times than they will succeed.

How many track runners are this close to being the best? This close? A lot. And you won't hear about them, because being this close is still not at the top. But they are still damn fine runners.

And those are just athletic performances. The same is true with academic trials or even affairs of the heart.

In any competition with a zero sum game, one with a winner and a loser, there will be one side that wanted that win just as much as the other side, but just didn't make it. Some of those wins will be heart-breakers. You can work for something for weeks, months, years, and, for whatever reason, still not achieve it.

It'll happen. But, here's the difference between the loser of that competition and a loser: how you view that competition afterwards. If you let that moment define who you are, if you believe that you are a failure, then all is lost. If, instead, you recognized you failed, and that it was the action and not the person, you can keep trying. You can keep going. You can become the success you are destined to be.

Don't let that one performance define who you are.

You are not a failure. You will fail, but you are not a failure.

 No, I spent it all on fish.

Me: "Do we have enough money to put some away into an IRA this year?"

Kris: "No. I spent it all on fish."

Kris participates in a Fantasy Baseball league every year. Actually, two of them. One is drafted by email, another one is drafted by auction. In the auction one, each team manager (i.e. Kris is one) in turn calls out a player name, followed by an opening bid for that amount. All other managers are then allowed to call out higher bids until a high price is met, and the player is drafted onto the highest bidder's team.

Each manager has $260 for 23 players: 9 pitchers and 14 players.

Kris has been playing for a few years, each year refining his process for selecting a team. This year, he wrote a program to help him out. And, like all good software developers, he wanted to test his software in an as-close-to-real-as-possible situation. He invited several friends over for dinner, software testing and, time permitting, a game of Settlers of Cataan.

This morning we started getting ready for the group to head over. I cleaned up the house as Kris went to the store for fixings for salmon fajitas. When we had fajitas last, I used a little over a half of a pound of salmon for the four of us. It wasn't quite enough food, but it was close.

I must have forgotten that I used only half the fish I bought last time, or forgot to tell Kris how much it was, because when he returned, he had more fish than I was expecting him to have.

He had eight pounds of salmon.

Eight. Pounds.

Any idea how much eight pounds of fresh Wild Alaskan Salmon costs?


That IRA?

Maybe next year.

 Paypal Observations

I'm in the process of adding PayPal Instant Payment Notification functionality to a site. Following are my observations about the whole process, starting with the biggest one:

Paypal makes it nearly IMPOSSIBLE to use their sites.

I'm kicked out of my session every 5 minutes. 5 minutes! I take that long to read a page sometimes, and I'm a quick reader.

I have to type in my password to access anything on their developer network. That means, for each new tab I click at the top of the page, I have to type in my password.

Bloody hell, people, make it easy for us to develop on your platform! Sure, make it hard to steal money from other people, but make it easy to get to your documentation, your toolkits, your examples. You want us to use it, not think, "This is the worst possible system I've ever encountered ... there has to be a better product out there ... let me look."

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