Thursday, September 30, 2004

Dangerous Shit

One little extra note about the library porn patrol. There are also plenty of people gambling online and playing video games too. While I'm not so instantly disgusted at that as I am at the porn, it still (in my opinion) should not be allowed because it's disrespectful to the institution. I don't know, maybe it's just me.

Anyways, today I need to tell you all about some dangerous shit. That is, people who go out and engage in these patently dangerous activities, without any regard for their own life and limb.

As a preface, I should state that my number one goal in life is to not die. Pretty much the same as my goal in, say, Tetris. Equally futile too, I know, but still - it's a good mantra to have when you leave the house in the morning. You inhale that first breath of outdoor air, you exhale, you smile, and you say to yourself "My goal today is to not die!" If you keep this goal in mind, then chances are you'll make smart choices. When you approach a curb, you don't step into traffic. When you go to the bathroom, you wash your hands. When you're at a society ball and a waiter offers you an hors d'eurve plate of cocktail wieners, you don't take the weird looking one. This, I believe, is part of the "don't die" instinct we all possess.

So occasionally I am confounded by blatantly dangerous behavior. Case in point:


You will never catch my ass on a helicopter, I'll tell you that. How many times have you opened the paper to see "Fannie Mae executive among dead in downed copter." "Deloitte-Touche COO killed in helicopter accident" "Entire board of Disney wiped out in fiery copter death trap."

Basically, if you're an executive, stay the hell away from helicopters. But it's not just our captains of industry. How about during the Afghan and Iraq wars... "US forces advance on Kabul, 9 Marines dead in copter crash." "Basra taken without a shot, 17 special forces dead in crashed Apache" Was I the only one who noticed that pretty much all our casualties for a while there were coming from copter crashes? And these weren't copters in action, they were just transporting troops.

One of the most respected, brutal, hard-hitting movies made recently about our modern military - Black Hawk Down, is all about, well, Black Hawks that went down. Apparently I'm the only one drawing the lesson here: do not get on a helicopter.

Now, I went looking for some actual statistics to back me up on this, but I came up empty. The army keeps this stuff pretty close to its vest, and civilian helicopter enthusiasts aren't exactly eager to report on fatalities. They don't exactly splash it across the front page of their websites.

Climbing Mountains

You've read this story 50 times I'm sure. An Everest climbing expedition comes back, triumphant, announcing they reached the summit on schedule; and they only lost 2 Shirpas, 1 donkey, and 8 cumulative team toes and only 6 fingers! Yes! Oh, and one guy is going to have to lose his nose. Well, he was a mouth breather anyway! Am I right!

They're big heroes because they conquered Everest, but hmm. I'm sitting here in my living room thinking "I don't have blackened, frozen dead toes still clinging to feet I can't feel." According to my calculations, they're the heroes for climbing Everest but I'M THE ONE WHO HAS ALL HIS FUCKING TOES. You know, on second though, I'm thinking that I'm the hero. I'm the guy who decided to watch TV instead of tackling Mt. Everest. That was a smart choice.

I started thinking about this because I was watching Dateline (believe me, nothing else was on) and Tom Brokaw was interviewing a one armed man who survived an unbelievable ordeal trapped in a canyon in Utah.

He had gone "canyoning" (there's your first mistake) and had accidentally dislodged a big boulder. The boulder pinned him down to the ground, crushing his right arm. No one knew where he was, and for days he lay there in pain, unable to move the boulder. He had no food or water. He was going to die. Facing death, he did what he had to do. Using his Swiss Army knife, he amputated his own arm. Unable to sever his own bones with just a Swiss Army blade, he was forced to twist his partially amputated arm over the boulder again and again until the bones snapped. Trailing his bleeding stump, he hiked for miles until he found some other hikers and collapsed in front of them.

Now I'm sure your seasoned climbers and hikers and canyoners would mount an impassioned defense of their hobby. It's about nature. It's about communing with the wilderness. It's about finding one's self. It's about pushing yourself to your limits to see what you're made of. It's about teamwork and friendship and absolute trust.

Nope. It's about CUTTING OFF YOUR OWN ARM. I regard climbing a difficult mountain as being an activity where, best case scenario, it's just a huge pain in the ass. And there's nothing waiting for you at the top except a pain in the ass trip down.

The other day at the gym, I saw a middle aged man who was working out at the nautilus, and one of his legs was just a titanium rod. It had a prosthetic foot on the end with a sneaker on it, and the guy could walk around pretty easily. But he only had one leg. Now I don't know how he lost the leg, I didn't ask. But I'm guessing that whatever it was, he decided to leave the house that day and do some crazy shit, while I carefully limited myself to a "home" or "Starbucks" or "Dennys" environment. You can't be too careful.

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