A Slight Misstep

On the way to lunch on Friday, I goofed and didn't see a dangerous obstacle. Possibly because I was talking, possibly because I was in the back of the group and couldn't see the hazard. I certainly didn't expect to run into a parking block on the sidewalk. Here's the situation:

[Accident Scene]

As you can see, the block is too heavy to move out of the way when I hit it. Someone had also nailed it to the ground! It's too high to automatically slip over, thus both my feet were snagged and I fell flat. My glasses and right temple took most of the impact.

[Stumbling Block]

We made a quick dash back down the street to Artech to clean up the copiously bleeding wound. That went smoothly, but then while washing it out, I lost consciousness, without realising it (things just kind of faded away and then I stopped remembering anything). Fortunately my able coworkers (Cory in particular) were there to grab me and move me to the conveniently blood red couch in the lounge.

I regained consciousness surprisingly quickly (seemed like it took about 2 seconds, anyway it's faster than waking up). Cory had gotten a light and was checking my eye movement to see of I had a concussion (fortunately not!). Since this still seemed serious, a trip to the nearby hospital was agreed upon by everyone there. Pity - I was really looking forward to going to Stephen's BBQ and corn roast that night. However, fainting could be a sign of something else, so it would be best to stay in the city close to medical help for the next few days.

Stephen and Jennifer took me down to the Civic Hospital emergency room, where the triage nurse checked how serious the wound was, told me to wait a bit (the woman with the head wound had priority). Then a second nurse applied a few bandages, and told me to wait. Then the third one registered me with the hospital (good thing I had my provincial health insurance card with me), then told me to wait. An hour and a half passed. I tried calling home a couple of times but our phone didn't even ring, it just went click-click and the pay phone ate my coins. Annoying. Finally I was able to see the doctor who checked things out, told me to wait, and came back with some surgical glue to put together the main gash (it was deep enough for surgical glue, and big enough for 3 stitches if they were still using thread and needle). After a bit more waiting, yet another nurse showed up with a tetanus shot, then told me I was free to leave. Maybe not super attentive care, but our medical system does the job. I went outside to wait. Jennifer and Stephen showed up soon after and gave me a ride back home (thanks guys).

After a day, this is what I look like. The gash is under the bandage, while the spectacular black eye is actually a secondary effect that took a day to show up.

[Nice Eye There]

I sure hope it fades away soon!

[Purple Eye Closeup]

Phone Problems

You'd think things would be nice and quiet after that. But no, I had to look into the problem of the phone not ringing. Sure enough, sometimes when I called up on our fax line, our main phone wouldn't ring or just ring once and hang up with a fast busy signal. I kind of wanted to go to sleep then, but mom was frantic about the phone not working so I had to keep looking.

I thought it might be a defective answering machine or the alarm system (since I heard modem noises sometimes when it didn't ring). While trying to figure out what was wrong, I moved between a defective alarm, defective answering machine, defective phone and so on. I unplugged various things and tried others, fortunately our fax line made testing easier, though the intermittent nature of the problem made it hard to be sure what was causing the fault.

Finally after giving up and calling Bell's repair service, I tried to get to sleep. But no, the police were at the door. Apparently the alarm system notices when it gets disconnected and then sends in a silent alarm when it is reconnected. But the alarm company wasn't able to contact us to see if it was a false alarm (remember - the phone wasn't receiving calls), so they called the police. I tried to look nochalant while sporting a bandage and blackening eye. Our investigating police officer was friendly enough, but did leave us with a false alarm fine pending (currently $75).

Along the diagnosis path, service calls to the phone and alarm companies were made and cancelled and remade (Bell has a nice automated repair logging database you can access over the phone). Finally, I tried it with nothing plugged in at all and it still sometimes hung up immediately and sometimes did ring. Ah ha, must be Bell's equipment!

Anyway, the Bell repair guy did show up on Saturday in spite of the cancelled and remade service calls, and determined that it was a short circuit problem with our internal wiring. Grumble, now we'd have to pay the $100 roll the truck fee since it was our problem.

[Bad Wires]

Mom wanted the phone working desperately, so I asked him to fix it rather than waiting for someone else or doing it myself (he had some nice signal testing equipment to help locate faults). After about three hours of work (lots of confusion between the fax line and main line, and what goes where), he'd replaced a section of wire which had gone bad (likely a staple had sunk in through the insulation). Now our answering machine will fill up with messages again, and telemarketers can call at dinner time!

I took the rest of the weekend easy, looking at the newly arrived Futurama season 4 DVD, test walking to work to take a few photos and get the blood circulating, and writing e-mails about future file system designs. No lawn mowing for me, particularly with that cut up hand and the rainy weather too.

By the way, file systems have become a hot topic since ReiserFS V4 was recently released and has scared a lot of Linux / Unix programmers with new features (having a thing that has the functionality of both a file and a directory seems to startle them the most). Though it's nice to see that Linus Torvalds and several other people are happy to consider new things. I just wish I had more time to do my own file system research and perhaps play with Reiser4 (sounds like it would fit well into BeOS).

- Alex

Copyright © 2004 by Alexander G. M. Smith.