Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Finely Tuned Machine

When I worked in the clinic, I used to hear some interesting stories about injuries. I remember that the ones I found the most fascinating about things like back injuries used to come from big, burly guys who could squat with a Volvo on their shoulders, but who managed to injure themselves doing something that sounded totally innocuous.

Guy looked like a powerlifter who strained his low back by picking up his twenty-pound toddler.

Another one who was sitting in a chair and reached down to scratch an itch on his shin.

One who was jogging and who bent to re-tie his shoe. (This one was me, by the way.)

These and similar injuries had a common action -- the injured men moved in two planes at the same time, i.e., they bent from the waist and twisted their torsos.

(In our version of silat we call this moving two bases at once, and it's a no-no, save for evasion, because we believe it doesn't allow for the best power generation. For example, if you need to step along a line and also rotate your body, you do one, then the other. Doesn't matter which -- step, then turn; turn, then step. You can speed 'em up so they look like one motion, but they are more efficient if you separate them. .)

All of which is to say that yesterday, I strained my low back. Not a major pull -- I can still walk around and it's only a little painful, but how I did it? One of those stories ...

The postman delivered a package, a big science fiction novel freebie for review. It was a Peter Hamilton title, and I figured I'd read it, so I took it into the bedroom. Often when I get such items, I'll step into the bedroom and just toss the volume onto my side of the bed, rather than walk a whole ten feet around to stick it on the stack of to-be-read material on the floor next to the nightstand.

In a script I would change the scene to SLOMO here:


The bedroom is dark, lit only from light filtering through the drapes. Perry steps round the corner, cocks the heavy book like a Frisbee, launches it. Just as he releases the book, however, he spots THE CAT lying on the bed -- right where the book is going to impact.

Perry's eyes widen in surprise as he realizes the book is going to smack right onto The Cat.

Noooo -- !

Perry tries to catch the book he just released, lunging after it.

He misses. Pulls his back in the attempt. Watches as the book flies s-l-o-w-l-y toward the sleeping cat.

RESUME NORMAL SPEED as the book lands upon the cat.

(startled meow)

The Cat levitates -- then vanishes under the bed ...

Those of you wondering, the parenthetical "MOS," means you can see the character's lips move, but you can't hear him. The story is that the term comes from the early days of movie-making when a German director would put that on a clapboard to indicate the scene was silent and supposedly stands for what a German with an accent would say aloud -- "Ve shoot dis mit out sound ..."

MOS ...

Long as I am here, my favorite multiple injury story from my medical days:

A teenaged girl and her mother are playing tennis. The girl goes after a cross-court lob, lands crooked, and turns her ankle, going down hard.

Her mother, seeing this, rushes to help, leaps over the net, but catches her toe and goes face down onto the court, spraining her wrist and knocking herself semi-conscious.

The girl's father, watching from outside the tall tennis fence, darts in through the opening to aid his injured wife and daughter, catches his hip on the gate somehow, gets tangled up and wrenches his knee ...

Nobody was seriously injured, but had I been a member of that family, I'd have figured that tennis court was cursed and found a new place to play ...


Thomas said...

text text text...

wait...a new Peter Hamilton novel??

jks9199 said...

Yeah... Steve's not happy taunting us with hints about his own stuff. Not nearly enough misery in that... Not when he can start by dropping hints about OTHER authors work, too!


Steve Perry said...

No teasing here -- I mentioned the book in passing because it's a big volume -- pushing 700 pp -- but it's been listed as a work-in-progress on Hamilton's site for while -- The Evolutionary Void


You can pre-order it at Amazon.com:


Due out in late August.

steve-vh said...

The best multi-person multi injury story I'd heard interestingly involved felching and a gerbil!! Not retelling it here but a freind who works in ER verifies it happens too much.