Monday, December 31, 2007

bicyclists, officials look for stricter laws

from the nonpareilonline, council bluffs
TOM MCMAHON , Staff Writer
Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber said the Iowa Supreme Court [1] has set the bar high when it comes to criminal liability for automobile collision deaths. The executive director of the Iowa Bicycle Coalition said his organization wants to lower it.

Mark Wyatt said the IBC plans to propose legislation to the 2008 Legislature that would increase penalties for drivers whose actions result in serious injury or death. He said a gap exists that needs to be closed.
In June, a Cass County man's vehicle stuck Atlantic bicyclist David Harris, 39, from behind. Harris was thrown from the bike and killed. The driver was cited for following too closely [2] and paid a $100 fine.
That same month, two cyclists in Dallas County were struck from behind and seriously injured. No charges or citations were issued. [3]
An officer who investigated the collision told Des Moines television station KCCI the driver did not see the two men. [4]
"They were side by side but could have been single file, which would have helped a little bit. Maybe one of them could get away," the Sgt. Mark Casey [5] said. "They have a right to be on the road like everybody else. When you've got 4,000 or 6,000 pounds (of vehicle), the odds are against you. [6] This isn't the first time this has happened. I hope it's the last time, but I know it won't be." [7]
Cass County Attorney Dan Feistner said he decided to file the charge in Harris' case after consulting with the investigating officer [8] from the Iowa State Patrol. He said the incident did not meet the definition of careless or reckless driving. [9]
Wilber said unless the driver is drunk or driving extremely recklessly [10], following too closely or failing to yield would be the likely citation.
"If a person runs a stop sign and accidentally kills someone [11], they would probably get a ticket for running a stop sign," he said. "We do not generally criminalize accidents." [12]
Wilber said the Iowa Supreme Court has set a high standard for proving someone was driving recklessly. He said while the driver might not face criminal liability, these type cases often end up in civil court.
Des Moines attorney and bicyclist Kim West said prosecutors should be more aggressive in filing charges [13]. He rode his bike to Harris' funeral to raise awareness of cyclists' deaths.
"It is convenient to say we don't have laws with teeth in them," he said. "But an attorney can find a section of the Iowa code that applies. In my mind, following a bicycle too closely with a car is reckless driving."
While Wyatt said IBC does not yet have a draft of its proposed legislation, he said it would suggest an intermediate charge when a collision causes serious injury or death. Feistner said he would be interested in reviewing any proposed legislation regarding bicycles on the state's roadways.
"We have a problem with our traffic laws and how they are applied in some cases," Wyatt said. "It is important that motorists take their responsibility seriously. It's not just hitting people on bicycles. It's people talking on cell phones or eating while they're driving and not paying attention."
He noted a recent Iowa City incident where a woman who was distracted by her children's yelling drove her car into the Iowa River. Bystanders pulled the mother and her two children out of the icy water.
"People are not paying attention and it can result in someone's death," he said.
the problem, as i see it here, is that the prosecutors and law enforcmentdon't really give a shit.
1--county attorney says it's not my fault [blames supreme court]; 2--files a traffic citation; 3--filed NO charges; 4--investigating officer blames stupid cyclists [said driver couldn't see]; 5--investigating officer blames stupid cyclists [says cyclists could have ridden single file]; 6--investigating officer again blames stupid cyclists [little bikes v. big car]; 7--investigating officer blames stupid cyclists [they won't learn not to ride on roads]; 8--county attorney says it's not my faulty [blames highway patrol]; 9--county attorney blames supreme court; 10--county attorney create new element to crime ["extremely" recklessly]; 11--as opposed to those who run stop signs and intentionally kill someone; 12--unless they have drugs, or are black or hispanic [when did they stop criminalizing ANYTHING?]; 13--i believe i said that when it comes to bicyclists, county attorneys are generally chicken shits. i pointed out that if they wanted to, they can find a crime to fit ANYTHING they don't like. with the notable exception of the recent conviction of jonathon quincy adams in the death of tina marie brown--
[A Des Moines man will serve at least 17 years in prison for the hit-and-run death of a bicyclist following his conviction by a Polk County jury on Tuesday.Jonathon Quincy Adams, 37, of Des Moines, was found guilty of homicide by vehicle, operating while intoxicated and failure to render aid for the December 2006 death of bicyclist Tina Marie Brown, 46, of Des Moines. The jury concluded after a weeklong trial that Adams was drunk when he struck Brown in the 1500 block of Southeast Park Avenue before leaving the scene. He turned himself in days later.
The homicide conviction carries a 25-year sentence.]
--county attorneys never prosecute drivers in the deaths of bicyclists. if you know of an instance where a driver IS prosecuted, let me know--i'll start a list on a little yellow post-it note.
it won't be a long list.

jack and the magic bean bus

chapter 10 - problems seen, and unseen
Unexpectedly, Brendan had just mentioned driving to Denver tomorrow, and Jack realized that this was his ticket for escape. Two problems came to mind right away. First, Jack wasn’t sure that Brendan would be willing or able to give him a ride to Denver. And second, Jack couldn’t find the beans that Sister Kim had given him. They might be anywhere along the night’s ride or even back at Dog Bait’s house. Jack would have to retrace the route to search for the beans.

A third problem was brewing, but Jack knew nothing of it. Raccoons had been tracking the scent trail left by the raccoon pee on Jack’s rear wheel as he rode all the way from Des Moines. And even though about a half dozen of them had been run over by cars and trucks at various points along the way so far, more raccoons kept joining their ranks from the fields and woods along the way as they relentlessly continued the chase.

Normally the hundred and some odd miles that Jack had ridden would have kept him well out of reach for a few days, but these raccoons had connections. In the middle of the night, along a very dark and lonely stretch of highway, a big Des Moines Register newspaper delivery truck pulled over to the side of the road. The truck’s bright headlights stabbed into the darkness ahead while the taillights bathed the scene behind the truck in an eerie red glow.

The rear door of the truck slid up, and a loading ramp dropped to the ground. Then a small army of raccoons quietly appeared out of the brush on both sides of the road and quickly waddled up the ramp into the truck. The ramp was pulled up again, and the rear door closed. Meanwhile, two raccoons that hadn’t climbed into the back of the truck jumped onto the running boards, and the truck pulled away.

For the rest of the night, the delivery truck rumbled along the same roads Jack had traveled earlier that day. The truck would stop at each intersection to allow one of the raccoons on the running boards to jump down and confirm that they were on the trail.
The plan was almost perfect, except that the raccoons that jumped down from the running boards to scout out the trail still had to waddle out into intersections where they were easy prey for approaching cars and trucks. The carnage was as relentless as the chase itself. But for each raccoon that was hit, another one from the back of the truck took its place. Back at the hospital, Jack took a risk and asked Brendan about getting a ride to Denver. “No problem,” said Brendan. “I’ve got space for you and your bike. I’m leaving as soon as I get out of class tomorrow, so be there right at eleven o’clock if you want a ride.” Jack got directions to Brendan’s place and was relieved. One problem was solved.

Now Jack had to deal with the other problem of finding the missing beans that Sister Kim had given him. Jack quickly realized that retracing his path would be impossible. The beater brigade had zig-zagged its way back and forth all over town during the night, and spotting the beans in the dark would be like finding a needle in a haystack. Also, Jack didn’t want to try to explain to Dog Bait about the beans and the mission that Sister Kim had given him. His best shot seemed to be to return to Dog Bait’s for the night and start looking in the morning. They reached Dog Bait’s house well after midnight, and Jack collapsed on the black vinyl couch near the fireplace. The late summer night was still warm, and Jack was sweating as he drifted off to sleep under the watchful eye of the velvet Elvis painting that hung over the fireplace mantle. Each time he turned or rolled over, his skin made the sound of cheese singles being pulled from their plastic wrappers.

Jack’s dreams drifted toward a chef that looked like Elvis who was frying big omelets on a hot sidewalk while tending an oven full of burning pizzas topped with firecrackers that sizzled but never exploded. At one point, Jack even dreamed that Dog Bait had crept into the living room and built a roaring fire in the fireplace as a mean joke.


to be continued...
[a serial by little orphan dbax]

happy new year

please be careful...
have a safe and enjoyable new year's eve.
and while you toast at midnight to
this great "land of the free,"
think about this.
don't forget to caucus thursday!!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

my weekend--graphically represented

i work out a lot.
i'm in pretty good shape, by the way. most people who know me know that, but it's not like i talk about it much. in fact, i really don't like to talk about me. but LOTS of people--family, friends, and associates, as well as regular readers of the sermonette [and you guys are all over this crazy globe, aren't you?]--have been dogging me for a long time, trying to find out how the heck i maintain this crazy high level of physical fitness.
let me tell you: it's not easy.
working out like i do is not for the weak and feeble, and sometimes even i wonder how the heck i do it. day in, day out; winter, spring, summer, fall, or winter, i'm out there.
working out and finishing up what god only started.
let me share one of my secrets with you: it's all about numbers. so many damned numbers i need a computer to keep track of them all. you wanna get better? buy one of those contraptions and keep track of your numbers. this chart above shows how hard i work whenever i do that. pretty impressive, eh? going up and down, up and down. over and over. you don't see chuck norris doing that, do you? what does THAT tell you? i'm fucking tough, and i'm not for huckleberry.
look at THIS mother. i was CRAZY during this workout. you can tell i'm not just "riding a bike"--LOOK at all those lines! i'm doing this, and i'm doing that, and i'm even doing that OTHER thing. but i'm not just DOING them, i'm knocking them out of the fucking ballpark. in particular, look at the shit in the green ovals. THAT'S the critical part. i try to do THAT shit a LOT.
as in every endeavor, i run a tight ship. i like to demonstrate my ability to draw curves up and down with my eyes closed with different colored pens. lotta folks won't understand what the hell this has to do with fitness, but believe me, it DOES. if you don't understand, don't ask me to explain. but come talk to me when you DO, grasshopper.
at the end of every season, i like to take the numbers from that year [and i have LOTS of numbers by the end of the season], and compare them to the numbers from previous years. you know, just to prove to myself that i'm getting better and better each and every year. well, guess what? i AM! the proof is not in the pudding. it's right there--LOOK at that blue line. that's ME. to get the full effect, you need to view this particular graph in high definition, on a GIANT 66" screen. THAT'S how fucking good i am.
want proof? look at this one. boy, i tell you. are you on the blue line, or the green line? let me give you a hint: stand up, look down. can you see your feet? well, they're trying to get your attention. i can hear them saying, "hey, get off your ass, and pay some attention to us down here."
and so there you have it: my numbers. pretty fucking impressive.
and it's only december...

leapin' lizards!

from hound talk forums, a sighthound web place i frequent, comes this amazing display of canine athletic ability, with a funny-as-hell story. i'll share it in its entirety, but first this background: ibizan hounds are spanish hounds, smaller than my hounds at from 24 to 29 inches tall and weighing from 45 to 65 pounds. they are described as "clowns" and "escapologists," as these photos will attest. in large part, owners prefer these dogs for those very reasons.
Kadin wanted to show everyone how Ibizans really can jump over a 5ft fence. We have a 5ft fence that separates the backyard from the front yard (so at night I don't have to let them out in the whole big yard). Well, Kadin has decided it's much more fun in the big yard than the small backyard and has been leaping the 5ft fence like it's just something minor standing in his way. Today I caught him in action. He's such a brat! I saw in the guinness book of world records that the high jump for a dog was made by a Greyhound who jumped 5'8". I think Kadin could be well on his way (or at least pretty close) to beat that record! Only a few more inches...

[note kadin's clearance and playful attitude]

Kadin says good thing I jumped the fence, the pine cones are much better on the other side of the fence! [simply amazing dogs--all of these sighthounds.--the reverend]

caution: high sugar content ahead!

to my knowledge, one of the neatest gifts given this holiday season was by a co-worker of my daughter, misty, who gave cupcakes--a box of mix, frosting with sprinkles, and paper cupcake cups. this is how they are made and enjoyed:

first, select the proper tiara.

carefully read the directions, even if they're for the pizza you ate earlier.

kindly tell your mom she'd better watch closely.

despite all the efforts of your grandfather to make you a southpaw, stir with the wrong hand, and silently break his heart as you let him know that you know you are using the wrong hand.

keep your tiara properly fitted.

keep the men waiting, as dad voices his displeasure at the patriot's comeback.

carefully spoon the batter into the cups.

know when enough is enough; learn to trust your instincts.

carefully apply the magic sprinkles.

gently but firmly tell your mom that she has to wait before she can have one.

note: the ones sent home with me were pretty damned good. thanks, misty!

superhero of the day--BICYCLE REPAIRMAN!!


Saturday, December 29, 2007

things to do - winter 07-08

get out and ride!
here's how:
2--do-it-yourself ice tires;
other tidbits:
i got into a discussion with a friend a day or two ago about bob barker and mr. t. my friend said mr. t had never been on "the price is right" while i maintain that he HAD.
well, mr. hot-shot smarty-pants,
this puzzles me:
if you attempt to frame it, will you constantly need to put it in an ever-larger frame?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Thursday, December 27, 2007

jack and the magic bean bus

chapter 9 - all the king's horses

Jack glanced to his left and right as he rode along with the pack. “I’m surrounded by lunatics,” he muttered. He had already ridden over a hundred miles that day, and now he was on his bike again, riding at night with a bunch of hooligans. Bananas pulled up alongside Jack and swept his arm around in a big circle to point at everyone around them. “This is a beater brigade. The beater bikes you see us riding are clunkers that have been pulled from bike racks and curbs on trash day. Sometimes three or four old bikes go into making one cruiser. Like uranium or plutonium, these cruisers are heavy, unstable, and have a half-life of about one semester. You’ll want to be careful with your road bike. It’s not meant for demolition.”
Just then, Sluggo cut across Jack and Banana’s front wheels, jumped a curb, and smashed through several trash cans that had been set out for garbage pick up. He slid out on a trash can lid and cart-wheeled into some shrubs. Jack was surprised that no one stopped. Instead, they circled around laughing like a pack of hyenas.

Sluggo untangled himself and got back on his bike. He didn’t seem any worse for wear, and once again the group flew off along the dark streets, crossing the Iowa River and riding toward the brightly lit “Old Crapital,” as Dog Bait put it.

At the top of the hill they met up with Brendan and Bill waiting next to a streetlamp. Paul came in for a landing too fast and hit the curb hard. He flew over his handlebars and did a belly flop slide across the sidewalk, coming to a stop right at the feet of some sorority girls who were walking to the bars. Paul jumped up and declared himself, “Safe!” the way a baseball umpire would.
Then a puzzled look crossed his face, and he lifted his shirt to reveal a line of red gouges, one for each button on his shirt. Everyone cheered but Jack, who was lost in thought, wondering if he was ever going to get on with the escape and the mission that Sister Kim had given him last night.
More high jinks and tomfoolery followed as the rough riders rolled over to a convenience store where Dean Wrong bought a pack of cigarettes and two-dozen eggs. “We’re makin’ a really big omelet,” he told the clerk in a matter-of-fact way. Once outside, Dean handed Jack the eggs saying, “I’ve got to get the winger ready.” The winger turned out to be a huge water balloon launcher, but tonight they would be launching eggs with it. Jack was relieved when Dean took charge of the eggs again.
Jack spent the next hour running and riding from alley to side-street to parking lot to alley, following the group as they sent eggs flying at frat houses and cars. Finally, when the last egg had been spent, the midnight omelet chefs made a tactical decision to head for the bars. This proved disastrous for Mongo, who crashed hard on some railroad tracks that crossed the road at an odd angle.
No one cheered or laughed this time. The riders circled back to Mongo and helped him sit up. There was so much blood flowing out of Mongo’s face that Jack couldn’t tell where it was all coming from exactly. Someone found a towel and handed it to Mongo to staunch the flow of blood. Then, to Jack’s amazement, they put him back on his bike. The handlebars were skewed, but the bike rolled all right, and while Mongo held the towel to his face, they pushed him along the dark streets. The riders rode without talking. Jack wanted to ask where they were going but decided not to break the silence. A few minutes later, when they rounded a corner and he saw the entrance to a hospital emergency room, Jack understood.
Dog Bait and Brendan took Mongo through the emergency room doors. The rest of the group milled around outside for a while before nodding goodbyes and drifting off by ones and twos. Jack was soon left alone sitting on a bench outside the emergency room doors. It was late and he was tired. The worst part was that Jack couldn’t see how he would ever make the journey west. Jack was supposed to escape to the big western mountains, taking beans to someone named Kelby. Jack felt his pockets for the beans but to his surprise, came up empty. He checked his pockets again with the same result. Jack’s mind started racing. He might have dropped the beans anywhere along tonight’s ride, or they might have fallen out back at Dog Bait’s. The doors to the emergency room slid open and out walked Dog Bait and Brendan. They were talking with each other. “He’ll be alright. Just some stitches,” said Dog Bait. “Mongo’s roommate is coming to pick him up. You done for the night?” “Yeah, I still have to pack,” answered Brendan. “Right after my ten o’clock class tomorrow, I’m driving out to see my folks in Denver.”
“Well, smell ya later,” said Dog Bait as he picked up his bike. Jack, however, was frozen in place. He had just heard the word “Denver,” which temporarily connected with the word “omelet” from earlier in the evening to form the familiar phrase, “Denver omelet.” This had nothing to do with Jack’s present situation.
Then the two words disconnected and Jack was able to reconnect the word “Denver” with the directions Sister Kim had given him about escaping to the big western mountains.
to be continued...
[a serial by little orphan dbax]
BONUS: public service for all bicyclists--
how to make life easier for motorists [see this morning's post]