Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ride Forest! Ride! - Larry Crowne Movie

Tom Hanks + a Yamaha Riva = Nerd Alert!

My sister in California told me about a casting call in LA looking for scooter riders for Tom Hanks new movie, "Larry Crowne". This is Tom Hanks 2nd time directing a movie. His first being one of my favorites, "That Thing You Do", which is EXCELLENT!

I have been waiting for this movie to come out and looking for photos on the internet but not too much is available. Tho these photos are a stitch!

But why he picked this POS-looking scooter is beyond me. I guess it is a Yamaha Riva? A decent scooter from the 1980's...CLEARLY! That styling, that metallic light blue... OY!

Julia better not ride without a full face helmet. She's gonna get bugs in those beautiful teefs! But now that I look at that photo again, I don't think anyone is looking at her smile.

For more information on the Yamaha Riva, click on this link.
I think quite a few scooterists are looking forward to seeing this movie, but we are afraid of being treated as a joke and not serious riders. I hope the movie does not have Tom picking out a scooter and riding off, sans license or tests. But I am sure those details will be overlooked. It is a movie, after all.

It might be nice for local scooter clubs and dealers to make a presence at the movie premier. I know I will be riding my scooter to the theater.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Why do I want what I want???

or, "Here's a big surprise... I want another scooter"

Here is the little thing that has poisoned my brain as of late.

It looks like a two-tone shoe or a hand bag. I can just see it, covered with gold and silver gucci designs! Plus it matches my cream colored Harley Davidson jacket.

So I ask myself..."Why do I want this?" All week long, I have been looking at this cream and blue Kymco People 150 and wondering... What is wrong with me?"

I have a perfectly wonderful BV500. I love my Blue Dragon. Why would I want this little thing? Do I have nostalgia for my old People 150? Is it the super girly paint job? Do I really need a second scooter?

It really got to me. Sure it is a good deal, it is a GREAT DEAL as a matter of fact. But beyond all of that, why was I becoming fixated on it.

I posted this question on Modern Vespa, and most people told me to "Go for it". That it was pretty normal to want a second scooter.

But insecure me, I have to delve into my I randomly googled, "why do I want what I want", and came up with this:


Now check this out: Review
If getting and spending define our lives, then Juliet Schor now has us covered. Six years ago, her book The Overworked American scrutinized the getting part. It focused public attention on the disappearance of leisure and the harmful effects thereof on families and society. It sparked a debate over whether Americans really work as much as we proudly claim. (If so, how to explain the audience for Monday Night Football?) Nevertheless, Schor can take credit for helping push Congress into passing the Family Leave Act in 1993.

Now she is back with a critique of our spending. Schor notes that, despite rising wealth and incomes, Americans do not feel any better off. In fact, we tell pollsters we do not have enough money to buy everything we need. And we are almost as likely to say so if we make $85,000 a year as we are if we make $35,000. Schor believes that "keeping up with the Joneses" is no longer enough for today's media-savvy office workers. We set our sights on the lifestyles of those higher up the organizational chart. We seek to emulate characters on TV. For teenagers, "enough" is the idle splendor that hardly exists outside of what MTV un-ironically calls The Real World. Schor offers an original and provocative analysis of why many Americans feel driven and unhappy despite our success. As an alternative, she profiles several "downshifters" who've taken up voluntary simplicity in search of a more satisfying way of life. No policy solutions suggest themselves this time, only a change of heart. --Barry Mitzman
Ah HA!

I wondered about my motivation. I have been going crazy at work lately and it has really been getting to me. I had a bit of money set aside and I decided that I should spend it. That buying "something" would make me feel better. But I couldn't decide what I should buy... But I was sure I could use the money wisely.

The more I thought about "what to buy" the crazier I got. I was really becoming fixated about spending this money. But I couldn't actually choose a single item to purchase.

Now I did not buy the above book, but I gleaned enough just from the reviews that I am just dissatisfied with my current life situation and buying something would be a quick fix, and not solve the problem.

Alas, rationalizing does little to stop my want for this goofy little scooter or several other items that are also in the running .... But if I do buy it... it needs to be for the right reasons.

Seeing the gorilla in the room

When we don’t see the gorilla in the room

or, "Sorry Mate I didn't see you"

Motorcycle accidents are on the rise. No matter how you cut and dice the data, there are more motorcycles on the roads and more distractions out there.

Much has been made regarding this data, mostly pointing to the fact that more accidents were occuring with riders from the age of 40 and up. Well DUH, that is the largest growing market for 2 wheel sales. It just means that more people in their 40s are riding 2 wheels on the road. Age itself is not indicative.

From the comment section of the above article

From J.W. - “Thanks for posting the useful info. I am an aerospace engineer a little bit like Mr. Hurt. I study the statistics on motorcycle accidents out of concern for my own life and my son’s life. I thought you might want to look for a study that identifies the “silent majority” of motorcyclists that DO NOT suffer a high fatality or injury rate.

They are: non-drinkers (less than three per week average), they are licensed, they have sought training in safe riding, they DRILL avoidance maneuvering, they wear a real helmet and (usually) a real jacket. If you rake through the statistics for these guys, you’ll find their accident rate per mile ridden is stunningly low, as compared to their more cavalier riding brothers.

I tell my son that riding is like crop dusting -- it has a low margin for error; with preparation, discipline, training and sound equipment being the keys to survival.

A large portion of your article probed for the root cause of increased accident rates. I minored in sociology. American culture has CHANGED. Cell phones usage is staggering. Caffeine intake is up by a factor of TEN from 1950. Fast food, television, video games and the web have made the last two generations very impulsive. Since 1950 mothers have become working super-moms, taking on more than any human should be expected to handle. This “new” American is much more likely to have accidents, whether on a bike or in a car.

It is also interesting to note that insurance companies regard auto drivers as extremely threatening. To ensure a driver runs $1,000 to $3,000 per year. The SAME DRIVER, asking for motorcycle insurance, will get quoted $100 per year, if the the bike’s pounds/HP ratio is less than that of a 400Hp corvette. The insurance analysts are very sober guys. They know who is doing the damage.”

It is true that some accidents are the fault of the rider, showing off, or riding above their speed and skill. Or I guess, being drunk.

But when most accidents occur the car driver typically says, “But I never even saw them!”

Wikapedia entry -

“The two major causes of motorcycle accidents in the United States are: motorists pulling out or turning in front of motorcyclists and violating their rights-of-way and motorcyclists running wide through turns. The former is sometimes called a SMIDSY, an acronym formed from the motorists’ common response of “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you”.[57] The latter is more commonly caused by operating a motorcycle while intoxicated.[58] Motorcyclists can anticipate and avoid some of these crashes with proper training, increasing their conspicuousness to other traffic, and separating alcohol and riding.”

This is probably true, because HAD the driver actually seen the motorcyclist/scooterist, surely they would have taken steps to avoid the accident.

However, its seems our brains are hardwired or trained otherwise. Scientific studies have been created and books have been written:

In “The Invisible Gorilla” Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris explain that such failures are called “change blindness”: “People are ‘blind’ to the changes between what was in view moments before and what is in view now.”

There’s a reason for this blindness: “In the real world, objects don’t abruptly change into other objects, so checking all the visual details from moment to moment to make sure they haven’t changed would be a spectacular waste of brainpower.”

“The Invisible Gorilla” explains in easy-to-understand terms how our brains make mistakes. Sometimes, the gray matter doesn’t notice what’s right in front of it. Sometimes, it confidently conjures up memories of people who weren’t at an event we recall. Sometimes, it seems to assure us that we know a lot about something when we don’t — and we make quick decisions based on our “gut” reaction.

Here is a book review by Tom Vanderbilt via

"...I clicked open one of those noxious-but-irresistible forwarded emails ("You Won’t Believe Your Eyes!"). The task was simple--count the number of passes in a tight cluster of basketball players--but the ensuing result was astonishing: As I dutifully (and correctly) tracked the number of passes made, a guy in a gorilla suit had strolled into the center, beat his chest, and sauntered off. But I never saw the gorilla. And I was hardly alone.

The video, which went on to become a global viral sensation, brought "inattentional blindness"--a once comparatively obscure interest of cognitive psychologists--into striking relief. Here was a dramatic reminder that looking is not necessarily seeing, that “paying” attention to one thing might come at the cost of missing another altogether....

The Invisible Gorilla uses that ersatz primate as a departure point (and overarching metaphor) for exploring the myriad of other illusions, perceptual or otherwise, that we encounter in everyday life--and our often complete lack of awareness as we do so. These "gorillas" are lurking everywhere--from the (often false) memories we think we have to the futures we think we can anticipate to the cause-and-effect chains we feel must exist. Writing with authority, clarity, and a healthy dose of skepticism, Simons and Chabris explore why these illusions persist--and, indeed, seem to multiply in the modern world--and how we might work to avoid them. Alas, there are no easy solutions--doing crosswords to stave off cognitive decline in one’s dotage may simply make you better at doing crosswords. But looking for those "gorillas in our midst" is as rewarding as actually finding them..."

Basically, on the road, motorcycles/scooters are the "Invisible Gorilla in the Room". People just don't see us because they are not programmed too.

I believe through training via the DMV and schools, that this can change. People don’t think about bikes, or two-wheelers riding on the highways with them. They need to educated otherwise. However, this means changing Americans existing traffic mindset.

A problem with American culture is the old, “Might makes Right” mindset. I have seen this demonstrated daily on the highways. I can’t count the number of times trucks and larger cars and SUVs have forced me off the road or forced their way ahead of me. I have had a few very crazy people look right at me on my scooter and come over anyway. Despite my protests. EVIL FOKKERS!

People need to be educated that the roads are for everyone, no matter what they are traveling on or in. Awareness is key. As a scooter rider, my awareness has increased immensely, you betcha.

We need to implement something like "Accident Awareness Events" This might be an education program that visits schools, malls and various events and settings. Make it fun and inviting.

Using a specially designed isolation booth, we can recreate possible accident scenarios. This might be a way of reaching out to people when they are open and unguarded. There are already various simulations available via the internet.

OF course LAWS! would be nice. Possibly taking 2-wheel involved accidents seriously, instead of saying, 'Well, they knew the risks, so I guess that's what they deserved."

Until all this occurs, ride safe! Because the only one watching out for you, is YOU!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wondering.... Part Deux

A while back I wrote a post about riding past a group of Muslim woman in robes and veils and wondering what they thought of me.

I looked about the internets and found this:

Hamas bans women on motorcycles in Gaza Strip
Thu Oct 8, 2009 5:54am EDT

GAZA, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip say safety concerns and social traditions, not Islamic religious values, are the main reason behind a decision to ban women from riding motorbikes and scooters.

In a decision which would raise eyebrows in Rome or Rio de Janeiro, the Interior Ministry said it was banning women from riding two-wheelers or being pillion passengers, to limit accidents and to "protect community values".

Spokesman Ehab Al-Ghsain said the decision was taken after they found that women riding behind their husbands or male relatives were a prime reason for accidents in recent weeks.

"We have taken a series of decisions to limit accidents and avoid loss of lives. Men carrying women behind them on motorcycles caused accidents and did not match our social traditions," he said. "The image looked odd."

Human Rights groups say Hamas is gradually imposing a strict Islamic code on the 1.5 million Palestinians of Gaza.

Gaza couples complain of being stopped by police and asked for papers to prove they are married, and men have been told to cover up on the beach.

It all seems a bit ridiculous to me. With all my armored gear, I don't even think most people can discern if I am a man or a woman, tho the pink helmet is a give-away.

Other articles have mentioned that women riding behind men is inappropriate in the way women have to hold the men around the waist and that leads to all sorts of hijinks...mmmhmmm.

I still would like to know what that one woman thought, when she looked at me so steadily as she crossed the street. Because I still think of her, and I wonder....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When is a noob, no longer a noob???

That I have not been blogging as of late. Well this is because this is our super busy season at work and it is WINTER and I cannot RIDE!

So I have been hanging on for the International Motorcycle Show or just ANYTHING TO SHOW UP and JUMP START my saggy little slush soggy brain.

Since nothing seems to be happening, I decided to draw upon past experiences and tell a few tales when I was a noob.

Now, a good question is... when is a noob, no longer a noob? Is is miles traveled vs. years of experience? Do you have to at least dropped your scooter 2.5 times or is it when you actually ride the Dragons Tail? I am not sure.

I don't really know for sure. I know I feel much more knowledgeable this year than last year. So many things have happened while riding that have increased my knowledge base. I think that is a polite way to put it. The other way is that, I am learning NOT to be a DUM-A$$ when I ride.

Not to mention information gleaned from the internet and various forums. This really helps. Even the accident reports, which I HATE, are also valuable to any rider. They help us refocus on what is IMPORTANT when we ride, which should always be SAFETY FIRST!

I think I will post this question on Modern Vespa and see what results.