Sound and Complete Piotr Kaźmierczak's blog

Hit & Run

Last Sunday night I was walking home and I got hit by a car on a zebra crossing.1 It was pretty late (around 11:30pm) and there was very little traffic. I was on a green light and while I was in the middle of the road, a black car came from behind me (he was making a left turn). I stopped, turned right, and as I was facing the car it hit me on my left leg knocking me down, and then just drove off. Before we get any further, I am happy to assure everyone that I’m perfectly fine, and that I did not sustain any serious injuries. But here are some of my thoughts about the accident.

I remember very vividly how I felt immediately after the accident – I was mad. The guy didn’t stop. In Norway. The best country on earth. I mean, seriously. If this happened in my lovely homeland or anywhere else in the world, I would still be outraged, but perhaps less surprised. But it happened in Norway – someone2 just hit me with a car on a zebra crossing, and then ran away. So yes, my very first feeling when I was lying there in the middle of the street was outrage mixed with bewilderment. This feeling didn’t really pass when another car stopped and called the ambulance – “Call the goddamn cops!” – I yelled – “I don’t need a doctor, I’m fine, just get that guy who nearly ran me over!” Luckily the person who rescued me was a little more lucid and called the ambulance first – “You got blood all over your head man, you need an ambulance.”

Right after the rage came fear. I didn’t realize what happened until 10 minutes after the accident, I didn’t realize how lucky I was and how close to a very serious injury (at best) I was. While sitting in the ambulance and later in the emergency room I kept thinking that it really was a close call – thoughts that the doctor confirmed. And then I also realized that it all felt highly unreal. You know, one of those things that happen to other people. Like cancer, tsunamis or losing your house. Being hit by a car coming out of nowhere is one of those things. And I immediately realized that I wasn’t prepared for it at all. I had medical insurance as anyone who pays taxes in Norway has, but did I have any accident-specific insurance or life insurance? I’m not sure, probably not. I think I have some insurance from my work, but does it cover such cases? Unlikely. I don’t know. And of course I was lucky that it didn’t really cost me much, except for drugs, a cab ride back home and the fact that I need to buy new glasses.3 I had a computer in my bag but it sustained only minor injuries. Then again – what if it sustained some serious damage? I wasn’t prepared for that. I guess it’s like with backups, that there are two categories of people: those that have accident & life insurance, and those that will have it. Now I’m becoming the former.

The police told me there are virtually no chances at finding the driver, because I am uncertain about the car and I haven’t seen the registration plates, but they did say they would look for him and even notified the local paper. It’s been almost a week since the accident now and I haven’t heard from them, so I assume the driver will not be found, but as time passes I am feeling less angry and more grateful for how benign my injuries were.

Finally, I was and still am overwhelmed at how friendly, helpful and supportive everyone around me has been. Huge thanks go to:

  • Hannah, for showing up at my apartment the day after, helping me with the police, cooking chicken zoup for me and leasing Toby;
  • my parents, for calling me twice a day to check how I’m doing (and for my uncle and aunt for calling on their behalf when necessary);
  • Truls & Samia, for providing me with premium quality chocolate;
  • Karolina, for helping me wash my head in such a way that the bandages stay relatively dry;
  • Erik E., for sketching plans of capturing the driver and bringing him to justice (I believe we agreed that the penalty in this case was hanging);
  • my sister and her husband, for reminding me that Rambo had it worse;4
  • Erik P., Maja, Pim, Thomas and Beata for being worried and making sure I was alright.

It’s really sweet of you all. You made being hit by a car a genuine pleasure, almost. I’m not planning on being in a similar accident again, though, and as we know it is unlikely I will have such an accident again. It’s just one more thing I can cross off my bucket list.

  1. For the locals: it was a zebra crossing on the corner of Carl Konows gt and Fyllingsveien.

  2. As we agreed with Truls and his father while discussing it, it must have been a driver from Oslo (or Poland, or Lithuania), for it is impossible that this was a local. As pointed out by Hannah, it is also impossible for the driver to be from Kristiansand.

  3. This one is actually a potentially big expense, but then again I can buy glasses in Poland with my mom. Me and my mom like going glasses shopping. It’s our thing.

  4. I tried finding a clip from “First Blood” of Rambo stitching his own arm, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. The only thing YouTube has to offer is his “Nothing’s over!” speech.

No Smartphone For Lent →

Matt Mullenweg is trying to give up using his smartphone during Lent, and I’m starting to think it’s a good idea. I notice that I’m dependent on a number of apps on my phone to a great degree – especially Calendar, Reminders, Evernote, Mail, Tweetbot and Google Maps – and I’m starting to think that I delegate too much of my own memory to my phone. I don’t exactly manage a company, and if I forget something then (1) probably nothing tragic will happen, and (2) perhaps it’ll teach me to remember things better, hell, maybe even to write things down on a piece of paper. And I really don’t need to check my email all the time, same way I don’t need to know what’s on twitter right now.

So the plan is to switch to, as Matt puts it, makes-phone-calls-only phone and see how much I can manage with that. My bet is I won’t make it to the end of Lent, but I’m gonna try anyway.

Слава Україні! →

The Economist:

Once you have gained a taste for adrenaline-flavoured simplicity, it can become addictive. Ukraine needs a decade of hard work on reform to recover the chances squandered in the past 25 years, building the institutions, habits and attitudes needed for honest, lawful government. That will require patience and expertise, not courage and barricades.

I love Ukraine and Ukrainians, and I’m so glad that the violence stopped, but at the same time I’m worried about Ukraine’s future. The amount of bad journalism that you can find on the topic online is staggering, but the blog entry on “Eastern Approaches” by The Economist is luckily rather good (as usual), providing a thorough and non-emotional analysis of the whole situation.

Put.io – a discussion about piracy on Hacker News →

put.io is a service that lets you download and seed torrents, and also watch the downloaded movie files, in the cloud. An obvious question that such a business model raises is a matter of illegal downloads, and that spawned an interesting discussion on HN.

Whenever I read discussions about illegal torrent downloads, I immediately think of three issues.

The first one is convenience – as a Netflix and HBO Nordic customer I miss the comfort of watching great quality mp4 files so much that I… became an IPredator customer, and I download the movies/shows I already payed for simply to be able to watch them without my laptop fan spinning like crazy.1

The second is the whole issue of what’s right, and how human beings aren’t necessarily entitled to watch the latest episode of “Mad Men” whenever and however they want. I used to support this claim and I still think that the argument of “I can’t get it in any other way so I’m gonna download it illegally using bittorrent” is weak, but I find it very unpragmatic to simply forbid downloading. I’m also starting to believe that contemporary TV shows and movies are becoming a significant part of modern culture to a degree that it’s just not right to deny access to that part to people who don’t have Netflix in their countries, or can’t afford going to the cinema very often.

And that brings me to the third issue, which is especially visible in the HN discussion linked above: it’s astonishing how many people (mostly Americans I guess) don’t realize how little digital content is legally available outside the US and the UK. The “if you can afford a modern computer and a fast internet connection, you can afford paying for TV/movies” argument is probably one of the weakest arguments against internet piracy, and is in fact the crux of the whole problem. What MPAA or RIAA don’t acknowledge is that the vast majority of the world’s population simply has no means of paying for a great number of TV shows or movies, because these are unavailable in their respective countries.2 People also seem to forget that high-speed internet became very cheap to most people of the world, same as computers, but digital goods are still hardly available anywhere outside the US. It’s baffling.3

So yeah, the whole piracy discussion aside, put.io is actually an interesting service, and I wish it well, hoping it won’t be seized by the Dutch police any time soon.

  1. Yeah, both HBO Nordic and Netflix’s streaming hogs my macbook’s CPU incredibly. Both services also regularly crash my Safari.app, either due to bugs in Flash or Silverlight. Also, HBO Nordic’s iPad app is one of the worst things in the entire universe.

  2. Or available after years of delays, with terrible dubbing.

  3. Unless you’re a lawyer. Then I guess it’s no longer baffling but obvious, because the obstacles are clearly not of technical nature.

Winter Sports

I don’t ski,1 and every winter doing any sorts of sports becomes a major problem. This year I’m trying to change that. As anyone will tell you, riding a bike or running in bad weather is simply a matter of attitude. One should just embrace Rule #9 and keep on pushing, but I’ve never been able to do that myself. Every year I promised myself that I won’t be paying any attention to rain or snow, but year after year I failed, bought that monthly bus ticket and locked my bike at home.

This year, however, things are different. I just got the lamest Strava badge for 150km ridden in a month:

but it’s the very first time I got any kind of badge for January.

The surprising thing is, once you convince yourself riding in winter is possible, it’s not that bad. Granted, my times on all segments are considerably worse, but I realized that neither rain nor cold bothers me that much.2 The trick is to convince yourself that it’s ok to ride in bad weather, and that still comes pretty hard to me, but I found another way – I take an indirect and much longer route home from my office, thus having some extra exercise, because I’m carrying a heavy bag on my back, and riding on a cyclocross bike. But it works, I am finally riding in the winter.

  1. Which is kinda wrong. I’ve been living in Norway for almost 4 years now, and only went skiing once. I have a tentative plan of trying snowboard this year, but then again I have this plan every year.

  2. Most of the time winters in Western Norway are very wet, and not that cold, contrary to popular belief.

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