Mirror Mirror on the

Have been contemplating getting a mirror for my bike. Increased safety and all.

As a cyclist you are always slower than cars. Well, excluding downhills and traffic jams. So the ability to see what and who is behind you makes sense. So that is my answer to the question “if you had a third eye, where’d you put it?”

I’ve always put this off, though. Somehow this didn’t get prioritized. But now I am even more safety-aware.

I wanted to buy a mirror that goes into the hole in the handle bar. But the biggest issue with that was that it is out of stock everywhere.

A few years back, a friend recommended a mirror that goes on the helmet. So I ended up buying this, thinking it makes sense because it would almost be inline with my view anyway.

How wrong was I!

My rucksack is blocking my view back, along with my shoulder. Damn those years in the pool – who needs such broad shoulders, causing more wind-resistance, extra weight and now blocking the view.

Solution is to point the mirror outwards and upwards.
Result?
1. Improved visibility of what’s behind, albeit a little to the side of what I’d ideally want
2. Serious eye strain

So, is it worth it? I think so. Though I may still add the mirror I wanted.

The ideal bike rear-view mirror 

The ideal bike rear-view mirror

My void is bigger than your void!

Here’s (some of) what wikipedia has to say (or at least had to say at the time I write this, because I may change it)

Dictionary.com has 18 meanings. Here are a few I chose

  • useless; ineffectual; vain.
  • devoid; destitute (usually fol. by of ): a life void of meaning.
  • without contents; empty.
  • something experienced as a loss or privation

So void is a nothing. So how can ‘nothing’ have size? I am not a big man, but I feel like the void inside of me is huge, that it can fill Camp Nuo. How can nothing, fill something so big, whilst living inside of me?! And how come it takes space?!

Today it is a month since Amir was killed. Definitely the worst month of my life. Heck, in a second, 2010 turned from a good/ok year to shit.

Handling the pain is something I deal with by turning it into positive energy. Trying to think of Amir as a motivation, as a driver. Many times as I ride home and climb that hill – I think of how Amir could’ve outlasted me, so I try and compete with him. Some older brother envy, for the first time.

Today is the hardest day since we’ve come back home to London. Haringey council got off their back sides and finally fixed the school thing for the kids and we’re settling into a routine. But today I just can’t escape the pain, can’t control it, can’t push it in the directions I want. I just cry.

Climbing into Muswell Hill is not easy – she is a tough mistress to tame. But whilst crying and feeling empty it is even harder.

I feel like this blog, though I never write too often, may take a dark turn and become a wailing wall. I don’t want that. I want to write happy things. But happy doesn’t get much air-time these days.

It is also interesting how this impacts, or doesn’t, our boys. #1 who is 9 understands this the best. He has really grown in an instant. We could see immediately that his approach to his younger brothers has changed. That he has grown. And today as I cried in my room he came and hugged me. He had the perfect medicine. A 9 year old. What a boy! The others are too young to understand or know what this means.

We’ve put a picture of Amir in our living room. The one from the post about his death. It is my favourite, along with a picture from when he was 3. #4 goes to the picture and says ‘Ameer’. It is funny how he absorbed that! He never met Amir, only ‘spoke’ to him on skype a few times.

I think I need to write more on my blog. More on how I feel and more about happier things.

Igenson and I, Livigno 2003

Igenson, #2 and I, Livigno 2003

A very long day

What day is it? Still feels like Monday. Though I either slept or taken naps, and the calendar tells me it is Thursday.
I hear Amir mocking my stupid attempts at poetry. Though I am quite proud of them.

Is it a dream? Is it real? I know it is real. I know I’ll never see him. Though there’s the little hope it is a nightmare we’ll all wake up from.
Edo is ill today with high fever. That can’t be a dream. But this whole surreal reality can’t be, either.
I think I’ll try to take another few cracks at being a poet. After all the effort I’ve put into this stupid haircut. I know Amir is laughing at this.

Your light

When your light
Was cut
I saw how much
Of it is burning inside
many

Good night, sweet prince

Amir Abramovich, Sep 1980 - Dec 2010

What can you say when you cry? When your whole world gets torn apart with a single phone call? When one of the people you love most is killed in an accident. And how is it an accident that my brother is now dead?

My little brother, my beloved brother was killed today, riding his motorcycle.

Just as I arrived at work I got a call from my dad back home. He had terrible news, he said. I though something happened to mum, or to my aunt. But the devastating news was that my brother was killed just a few hours earlier.

And your life will never be the same again.

A few words about Amir, and the sort of person he was.

A Phd student for biology, with an scholarship few get. Yes, he was smart. No, he was smarter. He just started his MBA. But he was much smarter. So smart, and funny and good hearted that no university degree can be given for that. A golden boy who lived his life his own way. He knew what he wanted, and he did just that. Sometimes he made me mad. Furious. He seemed to live, sometimes, in a bubble.

Yet, he was as down to earth as they come. He rode his motorbike, and he did it carefully. Because he was very cautious. He always thought before he did things. A very conscientious guy. He turned vegetarian at the age of 8, once he understood where the chicken on his plate came from. He continued with this when he went to the Army. He joined a supporting team rather than a combat one. As he understood the importance of being part of the national army, of contributing his dues to society.

In the lab, as a researcher he avoided anything that involved animals. I recall taking to him about it, and his problem with even conducting experiments with mice embryos. He wouldn’t of-course.

Amir was my riding partner when he lived with our parents, and I lived in Israel. As my younger brother he had to outlast me on the up-hills. Regardless of how out-of-shape he was – he’d push on until I stopped, and then continued for just a few yards, just to prove the point. He outlasted his older brother. Being the stupid one, I’d get away from him on the down-hills.

Amir knew everything. I consider myself one with great knowledge and amazing beauty. Yet he took that, and raised that further. Even his English was better, spelling wise.

As the young one, he was the most-protected by our parents. My sister was put to the best of what soviet/spartan upbringing had. I had a good taste of that, but to a lesser extent. Hence she will survive zero degrees water, eat through camel fur and climb a mountain using her teeth. Amir? Amir was gentle. When he helped me move house, because of course he would, he washed his hands 1000 times. He took plenty of showers just to rinse himself of the sweat he endured.

When I fell in-love with running, I tried to get him to run too. Initially he objected, but after a few beers more he realised the benefits and started to run. I was eager to run with him. Because I knew that though I’d be in a better shape that he’ll beat me, and it would a joy to chat. Because you could always talk to him. He was a great listener.

 

The picture is taken on a ski trip he took with my parents, sister and her family. I couldn’t join with mine. Snowboarding was his thing. He taught me to snowboard. “Here Az, don’t go on the flat – you need a bit of downhill to learn”. And promptly pointed me in the direction of a proper slope, with ice. One broken rib later I was a snowboarder, and went to the big mountain. Where again he pointed me at the right directions. Downwards. Three days – and I was a snowboarder. Who promptly hit his elbow, cracked two more ribs on the other side, and went back to skiing.

Somehow Amir discovered his courage on that mountain. It was like he’s changed. He jumped with his board and did all sorts. Including one really stupidly huge jump. It was like we traded places for a bit.

On the last day we came to a place on the mountain that we’ve recognized. A place we noted a few days earlier as a little jump. Basically a terrace. We remembered it, and we remembered the shape of the slope. So Amir went first. I was a long way back, and was a bit surprised to see him jump, and disappear. After a while I guessed it was the fog and I just went for it. This being a terrace, it wasn’t uniform. First time we saw it, it was about 50cm high. But this time we’ve hit it a few hundred meters up. It was 3m high. As I was falling down, into the inevitable crash, I spotted my younger brother laughing. We both laughed. I asked him why didn’t he warn me. “To miss this? you’re nuts”.  By-standers couldn’t understand the two idiots who have just crash landed, yet laugh.

We were a close bunch. Getting closer as the years went by, as there are almost nine years between us. Our parents took their sweet time. But boy, was it worth it!

Goodbye my younger brother. Nothing will fill in the void. But the many many friends you had will never forget you. I will take this pain with me to my grave, with the only consolation that you didn’t suffer, when that lady hit you from behind, because you were too careful and wouldn’t speed like the rest of them.

Good night sweet prince!

I don’t want to say goodbye, but soon tomorrow will arrive, and we’ll board the plane, the whole family and fly to Israel. Not to visit you, but to put you in the ground, where I wouldn’t be able to laugh at your receding hairline, or the fact I am taller (and fatter) than you.

It is so wrong.

I miss you so much, though we only spoke yesterday.

How I love bureaucrats

Kids need to go to school. Simple, isn’t it? Yes. So simple only a stupid bureaucrat can.

Here’s the story, so far:
– You fill in the mid-year admission forms. Easy.
– You send form + proof of address. Easy.
– Forms read, checked, school has place, kids go to school. Easy.
Well, actually no. Just the last step can take a few weeks.

No, it is not that the good people in Haringey council are sitting drinking tea, planning the new-year’s party. They are very busy processong next year’s admissions, while my kids miss out on school now.

The fact my kids moved from Wales and are without a school to go to, doesn’t register as an exception worth stopping for a split second and think. Three or four phone calls wouldn’t convince then.

The best response was “if you feel strongly about it, you can complain to the complaints department”. I don’t know if father of the year is a status that I will have soon, but I do feel strongly about it. As a matter of fact, I believe almost all parents would.

So I did write, and got a very quick, shocked, response at the ineptitude of school admissions, though not at so many words.

9 days the head of admissions has to respond. And if I learned anything about Haringey council – it will take them the whole 9.

So what do we do? Months ago, long before London came on our radars, airplane tickets to visit the family over end of December, were bought. We actually timed the move so that kids will a few weeks in school before flying.

Based on the expected timing, the answer from admissions would just as the kids take off. So? So we moved the flights and they fly off tonight!!!

Peloton of commuters

Five days into my new London job. As I expected – I cycle every day. Living and cycling to work is different in London to what it is in Wales. Oddly, London is pretty nice.

In Wales you cycle pretty much on your own, whereas here in the big smoke you ride in ad-hoc pelotons. Pelotons that may live for anything from few seconds to, ah, few more seconds. They form and disband in blink of an eye. Though you still get the benefit of a peloton’s visibility.

It seems that drivers here are very aware of cyclist. And though there’s a lot of traffic, people are looking for you, showing much more respect than expected.

Forty minutes is my average commute time. To work, as it is downhill and I don’t want to sweat it is a bit quicker. On the way home, on the other hand, I go all out, but the climb to Muswell Hill – is a decent climb. My legs judge it at at-least 10%.

Oh, and I cycle past this

Gooners live here

Gooners live here

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