August 2003

Segway Accessories

I’ve been doing some thinking about Segway accessories.

Cup holder. Inspired by my journey this morning from Tully’s (cafe) to Walgreen’s holding a cup of hot coffee in my right hand. Yeah, yeah, Dubya fell while trying to Segway with a tennis racquet in his hand, but I got extensive practice at my summer retreat while holding a can of soda in my right hand, so I now have the knack. And it sure was a great crowd-pleaser when I rolled away from Tully’s holding that coffee.

Mobile phone. If the pedestrians and motorists can go down the street shouting into one, so can I. Unlike the motorists, though, I can’t steer with my knees. So I need the cup holder to free up the left hand for steering.

Horn. One of those with the bulb that go, “Ah uuuuu gaaaaa.” Either that or one of those Dutch bicycle bells that quickly wear out so all you hear is a faint “scritch, scritch, scritch” as the bicyclist vigorously thumbs it.

Radio aerial. Suitable for attachment of a small pennant. Radio optional, but in no case to be used without earphones in sophisticated neighborhoods.

And on a related concept: I find it somehow unfair that society deems it perfectly reasonable for children to have imaginary playmates, but yet at the same time declares it a symptom of encroaching senility when, without the aid of a cell phone, I carry on conversations with persons invisible.

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Oh, I have whined.

I have whined about how swiftly my sins are often punished. Well now, I can unwhine, as a good deed got an incredibly fast reward. Here’s how it went down:

Some weeks ago I had finished packing one of my friend Jim’s inheritance items, but then I checked on the web and discovered that if I drove across town and took it to UPS instead of running down to the local post office, I could save lots and lots of money, easily ten dollars.

And then I realized that hey, I should just wait until I’d finished packing the remaining two items and take all three packages to UPS at once, thus saving several cents worth of gasoline and maybe an hour’s worth total of my precious time.

A no-brainer, actually.

Well, until as the weeks went by with no further packing action, modest crumbs of guilt began accumulating at the edges of my consciousness…and continued to accumulate until they had reached feast proportions. So this morning, gorged on guilt, I actually sat down and filled out the address labels and the shipping form and placed the package conveniently beside the front door in anticipation of taking it to UPS on the way home from the Slanted Door after lunch.

And then I jumped in the shower to get ready ahead of time for lunch so that I could watch Andre play this Canadian upstart in the ATP Masters in Montreal until the last possible moment before I had to depart.

And God looked down upon me and thought, hey, why not now? And He caused a rain to fall upon Montreal, thus delaying Agassi’s match this morning by fifteen minutes. And then He caused the producers at ESPN to think, hey, why don’t we fill that fifteen minutes with coverage of the end of last night’s match between Lleyton Hewitt and Max Miryni. So I got to see Lleyton llose, one of my favorite activities!

And to sweeten His gift, since I took that time to get the package ready, I did not get far enough in this morning’s paper to discover that Lleyton had lost, so I got the agony of the drama, too.

Now I’ll probably choke on a chicken bone at lunch, but that’ll be alright.

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After the Fall

I went out yesterday afternoon on the Segway to Dr. Fong’s, where we grossed out (in a fun-loving way, of course) her totally blonde and vegetarian assistant by discussing the Brain Masala at Shalimar, the new Pakistani/Indian restaurant on Polk at Pine. (The assistant was at first desperately trying to believe that a masala was perhaps related to a mandala and that a brain masala was thus some kind of Eastern study to improve one’s mind.) On the way home I stopped in at Whole Foods to pick up some Bingham Hill Blue, an award-winning and ultimately somewhat disappointing Colorado cheese I’d read about, and while I was there delighted the garage attendant by giving him an intro lesson on the Segway.

I continued on my way home via Pacific Heights since the outbound trip competing with grumpy commuters on through streets had been a little too, well, competitive. Early on I got stopped by this alternative transportation nut for a too-long conversation about the politics of Segways in San Francisco, and shortly after that I hit a pothole on Steiner that threw me for my first significant spill. As I was picking myself and the Segway up and dragging us between parked cars to the curb to collect our wits, the woman driving the car behind me slowed and called out, “Are you hurt?” Since I could speak, I of course said no. Actually, I had forgot how much it hurts to scrape the skin off a six-inch patch of your forearm. But for the first few minutes that took my mind off my bruised butt, which seems to have absorbed most of the impact.

It’s becoming clear that this thing is really quite dangerous to be running on heavily-trafficked streets, but it’s opened my life up so much that I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

And yes, I knew about potholes, but for a moment failed to watch for them. And my goodness, was the fall abrupt. The very first warning came as the Segway and I were doing an arabesque, during the first part of which our only contact with the ground was with one of its wheels. Then, I momentarily lost touch (in a couple of senses) with the Segway as I hit the ground. One advantage of a top speed of 12 MPH, though, is that you don’t skid far.

And yes, I should drape myself with accessories like knee and elbow pads and a helmet and such, I really should. But they’re so uncomfortable. I say that without ever had any of them on me except for a motorcycle helmet decades ago because they look so dorky that even donning them is unthinkable.

After I got home and scrubbed the street dirt out of my scraped arm, ow, ow, ow, I started discovering other minor contact points. The good thing about privately administering your own first aid at home is that you get to whimper as much as you want. I seem to have bounced a couple of times to get so many little minor contact points. Then, for a couple of hours, I was distracted from my discomfort by watching Andy Roddick prance around on center court at the ATP Masters tournament in Montreal.

But then bedtime came and I discovered that my scraped arm was not the really the problem. I seemed to have bruised my tailbone, as finding a comfortable position in bed was difficult. Luckily, I have my stash of leftover pain meds from various surgeries, so I sampled a 1995 vintage hydrocodone. It still worked, at least enough to let me sleep for several hours.

Hmmmm. It’s several days later, and my butt still hurts when I lie down. Definitely may have to look into some kind of padding to wear when I’m riding the Segway…or better yet, when I’m trying to sleep.

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