Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Winter storage and reawakening

One unfortunate scootering disadvantage we have up here in New England (or "the Union" as some others refer) is that we have bitter winters. Bitter may actually not be the correct description. Perhaps miserable-cold-dark-damp-gloomy-oppressing-rain-sleet-snow-snow-snow-more-snow-freeze-your-butt-off-never-ending-tormenting winters is a better term. As a consequence you will not find many scooterists on the road during the winter months. Although there will be a few crazy fanatics that wholeheartedly embrace the Unite States Postal Service "neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night" oath and dare to venture out all year around. I am not one of those. I don't enjoy navigating through black ice and snow, enduring bone-chilling temperatures, and freezing winds that burn any exposed skin (so wear thick gloves, goggles, masks, baby seal blubber suits, etc).

My scooter goes through winter hibernation inside a warm and sheltered garage, courtesy of my friends' apartment and at a cost of a case of beer. Sure I get sad and often miss my scooter, especially during the long chilly walks to the T station, but I endure through the winter knowing that my trusty scooter (or Scoot Scoot as I fondly call it) is in a safe place, and will be ready and energized for an early spring riding season chock-full of sunny days and pleasant rainbows.

For those considering to get a scooter and planning on not using it for a long period of time, it is important to know how to properly prepare and store a scooter. I was unlucky enough to not have been taught this critical information, and thus after a long first winter of storage, my scooter did not work after several disheartening days of dismantling, tweaking, replacing, and swearing at random parts until I fixed what had been undone. The wasted time was mostly due to because I had no idea why it wouldn't start. Often I just stared at the scooter, ignorantly hoping to identify an obvious disconnected cable or newly formed gaping hole that could be easily repaired with superglue and duct tape which would fix the problem, and also a lot of unscrewing and re-screwing random parts (don't ask me why, it's just a guy thing). Anyway, the most important lesson in storing a scooter is to remove the battery. Fact: a scooter battery (think car battery, but much much smaller) will discharge continuously and die within a few weeks of non-use. If you do not remove the battery before winter storage, you will of course, be angered in the spring when you have to buy a brand new scooter battery ($40 or more depending on brand & quality). Garaged scooters can just be turned on and used for a couple minutes each week to keep the battery charged. However, if you are lazy and/or storing a scooter in a place that does not allow a scooter to start (e.g. in the dining room of your second story apartment), the battery must be removed and hooked up to a battery charger every few weeks. You should also clean the scooter thoroughly before storing, to prevent rusting of critical components.

Also when reawakening the beast, gas is certainly a critical factor. The few liters of gasoline in a scooter quickly evaporates over the winter as I learned this after my second winter of storage. Megs had faithfully dropped me off at the friends' house, trustingly hoped that I knew what I was doing, and drove off to run errands. After a couple failed attempts to restart the scooter, and having watchful friends laugh at my situation, I walked the scooter to a nearby gas station a couple blocks away. With determination and patience I was finally able, in that gas station late one chilly spring night, to start the scooter with a tank of fresh gas, a fully charged battery, and faced a brand new scootering season full of adventure and hope.

[Reawakening ceremony tools: gas can, battery charger]

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Scooter pic: the po po

Here's a sweet picture my girlfriend snagged of a cool police scooter outside Yankee Stadium a couple weeks ago.

I really have no idea what kind it is, but I would guess some modified version of an old Honda Elite. I'm also doubtful they were able to store a shotgun and tactical gear under the seat.

Side note: upon further inspection of this picture, she was also able to capture the dude to the left in the white sweat band and sporting a "got rings?" t-shirt. My question is, who is he, and how can I be friends with him?

Parking 101

One of the great benefits of owning a scooter is that you can park it where ever you want. Similar to bicycles, all you need to do is find a suitable space, park it, and for extra precaution find something to chain it up to. Some of you may ask, why put a lock on a scooter? Well the average 50cc scooter weights approximately 200 lbs, so crafty criminals with pickup trucks can with relative ease steal scooters not anchored to heavier objects (those jerks). I personally use a heavy duty kryptonite chain lock. I usually park between cars or next to parking meters. In addition stop signs and parking signs are sturdy and good place to anchor your scooter. Fire hydrants and trees are less ideal as they are generally too wide or short to be of use (unless you have a 10 foot chain). For reference here a few pictures of things you can chain your scooter up to:

Also try not to piss off any authoritative figures while parking your scooter, such locking your scooter next to a do-not-enter sign in front of a government mental instution with a state trooper on guard. Luckily I didn't get a ticket, but definitely got a good scolding.

Sorry folks about the lack of recent updates, I've been incapacitated for a few weeks by a mutant Ebola/SARS supervirus (or a bad cold/flu).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Scooter Adventure: the Egging

Mischief night, Halloween 2005.

I felt two sudden hard punches on my back. I heard a few more cracks as additional shots missed and fell to the pavement around me. Surprised and in pain, I struggled to keep my scooter upright. It was dark and I was already having enough trouble avoiding the big potholes and dangerous corners in Dorchester. I looked down and felt warm liquid dripping around my waist and legs. Was I bleeding? Was I about to die? I could hear the tires screeching from the low rider car that had been tailing me. I looked in my side mirrors and could see the car had made a quick right turn down a dark side alley. My aggressors had escaped.

I doubt there are many readers here that have been attacked by weaponized poultry embryos. I would even go so far as to say there are even fewer that understand what it feels like to be egged while driving a scooter at 30mph. It hurts like hell. I ended up with a few bruises on my back, a scooter covered in egg yolk (which does not clean up easily), and a very bruised ego. On the positive side, I am gracious the youth of Dorchester on mischief night chose to use grade A large white eggs rather than actual bullets. (For those that are not from the Boston area, Dorchester is comparable to South Philly. Or West Philly. Or all that area past Route 1 in North Philly. Or Trenton). In retrospect, it probably was not the greatest idea to drive through a dangerous part of town late a night on Halloween eve on a bright yellow scooter. But I had a big exam to study for and had spent most of the day in the library. I never got a good look at the teenagers in the car. They had pulled up along side me a few blocks before the incident and stared at me. I had figured they were only checking out my scooter as that happens from time to time, but did not realize there were actually acquiring a target for their mischievous deeds.

In summary:
  • Projectile eggs hurt like hell
  • Do not drive a scooter in Dorchester
  • Wet paper towels will not clean up embedded eggs chunks from a scooter
  • Use "Kaboom" cleaner. Or anything sold by Billy Mays
  • Do not go to Dorchester

Site of the Egging Incident.

Weaponized Poultry Embryo

Addendum: In response to Meg's comment, I was selected for jury duty in 2006. While filling out the paperwork at the courthouse, in the section that asked, "Have you ever been a victim of crime?" I wrote in yes and described my scooter egging incident. A few hours later, two lawyers and the judge were filtering through the potential jurors and called me up to the bench. They asked me if I would remain impartial to the criminal case, as I listed having been a victim of crime since I had been egged while driving a scooter. To say the least, it's pretty embarrassing having a judge and two lawyers ask you that question in a court of law. I sheepishly said no, and was picked for jury duty that lasted three days.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Scootering and work

To quote one of my favorite movies (Old School), Luke Wilson's character tells a co-worker of his, "We work together, Walsh. And I don't want to mix work with whatever it is I do at home." Granted I am not starting a non-collegiate fraternity with middle-aged men, but nevertheless it retains some general pertinence as many of us have a "professional personality" that we wear to work and that is not always reflective of our true selves. (Unless of course, you always laugh at your boss's jokes and are truly overjoyed from seeing your company quarterly compliance reports perform above the mean. However, recently a few of my co-workers have discovered my blog. And to keep them happy I have agreed to post a picture of them with a scooter.

There Marc & Nikki, I hope you're happy. Stop harassing me.

But also, if you have a cool/funny picture of yourself with a scooter, feel free to email me and I will post it on my blog for all to see and admire. (All = girlfriend, roommate, and people who have accidentally found this site by clicking the random site button on blogspot.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Scooter Etiquette

While on my ride and listening to Kenny Loggin's "Highway to the Dangerzone," I sometimes find other scooterists making a point to maneuver through traffic to catch up with me. Sometimes they will proceed to ride up alongside my scooter and perhaps even to be so bold as to strike up a brief conversation during stops at traffic lights. This folks is a big no no. It's like those people in public bathrooms who start talking to you in the next stall over. Last thing you want to do while taking care of business (or as my roommate calls it, "taking the browns to the superbowl") is starting a conversation with a complete stranger. Same rules apply while scootering.

Don't get me wrong, if you happen to be driving behind a scooter it's okay to pull up and give a brief nod before peeling away. That's common courteously. It's like saying, "hello, we're both better than pedestrians and cooler than gas guzzling motorists," but that's it folks. No further acknowledgment is required. As you may now know from my previous post (see "Types of Scootering Personalities") a variety of people ride scooters, and they do not all necessarily share common mindsets (other than loving scooters).

I also have a jeep. There's an unofficial "wrangler wave" that is given to fellow wrangler drivers as you pass by other jeeps on the road. Some overzealous enthusiasts give the big high five wave as they pass by. I tend to utilize the patented two finger peace sign with the left hand while gripping the steering wheel at the 12 o'clock position (the "bunny ear maneuver"). This way it's noticeable to the keen observing fellow wrangler driver and pays respect, but not as obvious to the other motorists or people in your car (so they don't you're super lame). Crap, I've sidetracked so much I've forgotten what I was ranting about. Oh well, here's a cool picture of my scooter.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Scooter Adventure: the Ticket

A typical Monday morning. I was running late to work, on my scooter driving through Central Square on Mass Ave. Suddenly, a Cambridge police officer on his motorcycle pulls up next to me with his lights on and says, "pull over by the sidewalk up there and turn off your scooter son." The next 15 minutes provided to be one of the most confounding moments of my life so far. His next words were, "did you know your registration tags are expired?" Of course I knew. My tags were expired in 2006 (yeah yeah, go ahead and ridicule me, but if you think I like to throw away $40 to the city of Boston for a sticker that registers my scooter as a "motorized bicycle" you might as well stick a feather in your head and call it a macaroni). Anyway, the cop proceeded to lecture me on not having an updated sticker, and then issued me a ticket. A ticket!! Do they really have the free time to pull over scooters for expired registration tags and fine them $25?!?!

But here's the real kicker folks. Hang onto your hats and buckle in your seat belts. His next sentence was, "I'm going to have to tow your scooter." Really? Really really?!? I was dumbfounded. In disbelief. Who tows a scooter? Who tows a 200 lb bicycle? Do jerks like that really exist in this world? Yes, apparently they do. So after a few more minutes of baffling discussion, I was directed to a bus stop across the street which would take me to work that morning. As I sat on the bus, I looked out and saw the officer next to my scooter waiting for the tow truck. I could almost feel the tears trickling down my cheeks.

After pleading with my boss, I was able to take a half day and had the rest of the afternoon off to retrieve my scooter. I had to take the following steps: (1) Get home and retrieval my registration identification. (2) Get to the RMV. (3) Wait in line at the goddamn RMV for hours to get a registration sticker. (4) Get to the impound lot. (5) !!!!!

First of all, the Massachusetts RMV provides a nifty website that shows "real time" wait times for their various locations. Okay, after a bit of perusing I found the most convenient and shortest line existed at the Cambridgeside Galleria RMV office. After rushing home, I jumped into my car and jetted towards the Cambridgeside Galleria mall. Minutes later, I was in a short line at the RMV office. "Oh," said the young woman at the counter, "scooter registration? We don't do that here. You have to go to our Watertown location."


After damning the RMV a few more times, I drove another 15 minutes to Watertown, otherwise known as "the armpit of west Boston". As this entry is getting long, I will spare you the excruciating details of waiting in various lines at the Watertown RMV, but suffice to say, there was a point where I had the wrong form, and was directed to another line to get the correct form (although they did let me cut in line). Nevertheless, 2 hours later, I had a brand spanking new shiny registration sticker, minus two Andrew Jacksons in my wallet.

Luckily I convinced my girlfriend to drive me to the impound lot after work, so at 5pm we took a drive to Phil's Towing Co, paid them their damn hundred dollars, and picked up my scooter, which had been sitting in their parking lot getting rained on all day.

Cambridge Police: 1
Scooter: 0

Monday, July 28, 2008

Carry groceries: the tetris challenge

Depending on the type of scooter, you may or may not have ample storage capacity. For example, a Honda ruckus (see image below) has no storage, so you're basically SOL.*
But on my scooter, I have maximum storage ability, including: an underseat helmet compartment, a front bag hook, and an additional Givi trunk compartment. Believe it or not, I can carry a week's worth of groceries on my scooter.

[Groceries in cart]

[Same groceries in scooter compartments. Magic!]

All it takes is some forward thinking and a little practice from playing tetris. Obviously, big items such as bulk rolls of paper towels from Costco will not fit, but perishable and fragile items such as fruit, glass jars, and even eggs will fit nicely if you plan ahead.

Space can be further supplemented with a backpack or messenger bag. Wow, what a knowledgeable and helpful post! This deserves a:

[*SOL = sh*t outta luck]

Scootering for two

Although scootering historically has been a solo adventure, there are occasions that call for more than one person riding on a scooter. Here's a short list:

Occasions that call for more than one person riding the same scooter:
  1. Existing girlfriend/boyfriend needing a ride home (note: only do this for existing relationships, because really, you're not going to impress anyone you're trying to date by picking them up on a scooter).
  2. Lame roommate bumming a ride (this is why I've made a "only 1 masian* per scooter" rule).
  3. You're handcuffed to someone as you both try to escape police on a thrilling chase through a European city. You attempt to steer through narrow streets, your partner in crime fire bullets randomly behind you.
Notice that I did not put "joy riding" on the list of scootering for two. That's because it's not fun riding an elaborate lawnmower with two people. It's not a motorcycle. There's little room, and scooters are not really designed to sustain the weight of two individuals. There's a couple of things to consider as you ride with two people. Here's another list:
  1. The art of getting on a scooter with two people. It's no easy task. My girlfriend and I have carefully practiced this dance, to spectators it's almost like a well choreographed ballet; I steadily hold the scooter upright via the handlebars, she climbs on and scoots back to the end, I then unsteadily throw my leg over the front without kicking her in the head, and finally rest hunched over the front with my knees poking the back of the handlebars. It's just as difficult dismounting from the scooter, I have to hold the scooter upright as she does a dangerous cartwheel off to one side, and then making sure not to drop the scooter, step off and pull down the kickstand. Email me for drawings and detailed instructions.
  2. Helmet selection. In my naive excitement, I first purchased a matching helmet for my girlfriend to wear. It's bring pink and is just as obnoxious and loud as my yellow helmet. However, I failed to recognized that we are not riding a motorcycle, and honestly we looked like a bunch of power ranger fanboys riding into battle to defeat Zorgon on a little underpowered scooter. Here's a 10 second cut and paste image rendition of what it looks like for your amusement. In addition to the negative visual aspects of having two matching full size motorcycle helmets, logistical problems also arise. Since we are sitting so close to each other, we discovered that we often bump into each others' helmets and made it a nuisance to turn your head, which as it turns out, is vital when you're riding a scooter in heavy traffic. So in short, I ditched the pink power ranger helmet and purchased a sweet secondary half helmet, which is better suited for storage and usage, as it's small enough to fit inside my scooter truck, and does not easily bump into the back of my helmet as well.
  3. Apparel. Make sure your girlfriend (or boyfriend?) is not wearing a skirt, as that's not the best idea to wear while scootering. Or for that matter, on males, not the best idea to wear ever. (Unless it's Halloween, which in that case, it's highly recommended).
  4. There's also a handful of other tidbits of advice, such as readjusting your side mirrors and taking turns more slowly, but I can't seem to think of funny comments to add to those instructions, so that's it for now.

[*masian = male + asian]

Updates coming soon

Dear fanclub member(s) and avid reader(s):

Updates are coming soon, I promise! I have a few stories drafted, but due to various obligations and lack of creative juices lately I've been reluctant to post the new stories. You deserve my best writing: a classic combination of a short anecdote filled with wit, humor, compassion, and a sprinkle of education...not mindless rantings and bad grammar.

So for now, here's a sweet picture I took on my scooter to keep you enticed in my blog. Keep checking back for updates!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What a scooter is/ What a scooter isn't - Ranting Alert!

  • A scooter is a very useful alternative to a car.
  • A scooter is not a motorcycle. Don't think you're as cool as those guys on Harleys.
  • A scooter is great for zipping in and out of horrendous Boston traffic.
  • A scooter is basically a bicycle with a lawn mower engine.
  • A scooter does not help you pick up chicks.
  • A scooter is very fuel efficient.
  • A scooter has no doors, windows, ceiling, or any protective covering from the elements. Weather.com is your best friend.
  • A scooter barely weights over 200 lbs. Buy a big lock.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Helmet selection

People down play the importance of selecting a good helmet. It's like those car insurance commercials where they ask people how long they've researched buying their car, and then how long they've researched purchasing their car insurance. Scooters (<50cc's anyways) don't have insurance. So ha, suckers. (More on the economics of ownership in a future post). But it's important to determine what kind of scooter helmet you want. Do you want to look cool? Or do you what to not die? Some people sport the o'l german WW II type half helmets. They wear'em with sunglasses, and look damn cool. I went for a full size matching bright yellow icon mainframe helmet with flames and tinted visor. Badass? To say the least. It also protects my entire head, so if I get into an accident I actually have a chance of survival. Also no bugs in the face & mouth. It also hides my face so people can't recognize me and/or see if I'm checking them out. So finding your style of helmet is no simple task, and should be thought out as well. Caveat: you still have to keep in mind you're not on a motorcycle, henceforth if you have small scooter, you might look kinda silly driving a small scooter with a big helmet on.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blog is 24 hours old!

My blog is 24 hours old!  Here are some reviews from my critics:

"nice blog...i wanted to learn about scooters"
"Awesome blog!!!!"
"what could you possible have to blog about"
"just for the record... I don't think you're a douchebag"
"oh dear... a scooter blog.. douche"
"if you ever write about me, please don't use my real name"
"god your an idiot"
"i'm reading it nerd"
"that was a good read, I like your writing style"
"oh my god... i died a little inside"

So all in all, a great success so far!  Stay tuned for more posts.

Types of scooting personalities and their rides

These are stereotypes that have come from no scientific premise or cohesive rational whatsoever. Hey, it's my blog, I can do whatever I want.

  • Europeans - they primarily drive Vespas, wear A/X mesh clothes, have hot models in the back seat, and look too damn cool. Wait, they mainly exist in commercials (and in Europe, I guess).
  • Girly girls - they drive bright red/pink scooters (mostly Vespas, or those flowery patterned Honda metropolitans), have matching outfits, make you want to throw up. Maybe a small dog or two in their hand bags.
  • Hippies - they drive old school scooters, like retro-style Vespas or Lambrettas. Damn things breakdown all the time, and are a pain to fix and maintain. They still probably smoke too much pot. Get a job.
  • Motorcycle-wannabes - kids who can't afford Ninjas, so they go for the scooter. They go for more sporty scooters, so Yamahas or Suzukis. It's an upgrade from annoying those mini-razor bikes/ATVs though. They take off the governors and catalytic converters so it makes more noise, still don't realize chicks are not impressed.
  • Poor college kids - Apparently scooter are HUGE in the midwest (source: my friend Sam who went to college in the midwest, apparently everyone has them around big campuses out there). These are kids who are too lazy to bike, too lazy to find a car parking spot, and too lazy to wait for a bus. They primarily drive cheap pieces of junk, like those tiny Honda ruckuses, Chinese-made whatevers, Korean Kymcos, etc.
  • Guys like me - eh, you think you're cool by going off the beaten path. You have a big SUV and feel too self-conscious to drive that thing 1/2 mile to work. You recycle...sometimes. You probably have an iphone too. Douchebag.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A history lesson

Back in college, I worked part-time as an EMT for a private ambulance company. (Side note: this company went bankrupt a few years back...but shortly renamed themselves and painted over the old ambulance decals with their "new" company name). Anyways, a friend of mine also worked for this company, and I saw him riding to work on a little black scooter. And since this guy was one of those cool guys (you know, guys who wear tight punk clothes, big aviators sunglasses before they were mainstream, and listen to bands that don't even exist yet), I thought, "man, a scooter is cool because it's so uncool." So I bought a scooter.

Wait, I'm forgetting something. Oh yeah, there was about 3 months between the thought "I'm getting a scooter," and actually buying one. Step 1: do your homework. Surprisingly, there are not that many scooter books out there. At least, not ones that fall under these mandatory categories: in press, in English, not only for purchase in bulk pallets. So after a week, I ended up with a general history of scooter book and a book on motorcycle driving techniques (these are actually quite good books to read before buying/driving a scooter, I'll reference them once I'm feeling not lazy). After that, I checked out the few scooter stores in Boston, and found "the one." A future post will contain my rantings on where to buy a scooter in Boston and my brief bias experiences with them.


A friend of mine once said he "blogs like everyother douchebag out there." And I though, "hmmm, I've been called a douchebag before, why don't I have a blog yet?" After divulging further in this idea, it seems to me that most people have specific goals/themes in their blogs (addendum: blogs that people actually read). For example, some of my friends document their adventures in Australia (http://jasoninaustralia.blogspot.com/), others their poker careers (http://thepokerjournal.blogspot.com/), and even others containing the mindless rantings of a metrosexual pseudo-psychotic narcissistic jew (http://jonsportsblog.blogspot.com/). I on the other hand, do not have much to contribute as a twentysomething year old working/living in Boston. That is, until I remembered my passion: riding my scooter. And since my girlfriend no longer listens to my scooter stories, I've decided to share them with the rest of the world (world = my few friends at work who are ridiculously bored and have thoroughly read today's headlines on epsn.com, cnn.com, nytimes.com, and even fark.com). Welcome, to the rantings of a Boston scooter enthusiast.

[Update: Oh, and I just sent this to my girlfriend to proofread, her only response: "nerd alert." What a girl.]