So, my memory has been messing with me.

A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend and making plans for the upcoming day. I'd probably end up needing his cellphone number to get things coordinated, as I had to feed the cat, who was all alone in our spacious, vacation-emptied house uptown.

My friend made a comment about how his cellphone number wasn't especially catchy (it isn't), which got me thinking.

What if cell-phone service providers actually offered a one-time fee for  a catchy number?

I'm sure a lot of people (or their friends) would be willing to pay to have a number that's easier to remember. I still think it's a good idea. But at the time I pointed out a problem with the idea: people wouldn't exactly be in agreement on what numbers are catchy. I illustrated this with a hypothetical quote.

"I didn't pay 20$ for 467-1237!"

Problem is, that's the exact number I used in my example. And I still remember it. Several weeks later. Argh. At this rate, I'll never forget it. What a bad example.

I really hate this room right now. I'm not going to say "my room" because everything that made it mine is gone now, packed into neat little boxes. The blank white walls are stark and barren, free of any emotion, any feeling, any signs of life. Aside from the cluttered bed in the middle of the room, it is the very picture of banality. It took me ages to finally arrange this room the way I wanted, to make it mine. But it only took a few hours to tear all the pictures off of the walls, all the essays, all the mementos. Hundreds of memories, falling from the walls... Now I have no where to go, no private place to hide from the incessant noise of change.

I should back up a bit. My parents have decided to do some remolding in our home. We are going to have the walls redone, the ceiling painted, get some trim, put in new doors, and remove the carpeting in almost every room. That's all well and good, but for three weeks, we have no living space other than the kitchen and bathrooms, which won't be altered, because there will be people working in our rooms—tearing up the walls, and floors, spreading plaster all over everything, leaving the smell of mold and wet and damp, and also paint hanging thickly in the air. So today I had to move all my clothes out of the closet, and pack the sum of my material wealth into identical cardboard boxes. Nearly everything I own is out of reach, sealed within these cardboard monstrosities for the next three weeks.

I’ve realized why I hate cleaning my room so much. It reminds me of all the things I’d rather forget about myself: how sloppy I am, how disorganized I can be; I find all the things I’ve forgotten; I realize how few of my things I use; in the end the room is barren and I feel like a fool. I found all the books that I never got around to reading.

But what really got to me was taking all the papers off of the walls. I never realized how much those silly scraps of paper meant to me. An essay about my grandmother and her pecan caramel rolls. Letters from my brother, proof that he loves me. The two drawings I’m actually proud of. A postcard from Reed College. A few of my best literature essays. The drawing I’ve seen and loved so many times I take it for granted, a gift from my greatest friend. Now all these brightly colored pieces of paper are stowed away in a dark drawer, waiting to be graced by the gentle embrace of the sun. In the meantime the hollow room echoes strangely, a diluted white shadow of its former self.

It’s going to be a long three weeks.

(If any of you are MC riders, I'd love your input and opinions on any of this)

So, this week-end, I’ve spent a lot of time riding around on a motorcycle (Honda XR, to be exact, which is a 125cc, road-legal, 5-speed trail bike). This morning I handed it in and stepped straight back onto my scooter (Gilera Runner VX Special – twist and go continuous variable transmission (CVT), 125cc). The difference between the two bikes are so vast that it’s almost unbelievable that they both share some traits (2 wheels and a 125cc engine)...

Gears – Scooter is better

One of the main reasons why I wanted to learn how to ride ‘proper’ bikes, is that I want to learn the extra skill involved with changing gears etc. To be honest, I don’t really see the advantage of having a set of gears on a motorbike – CVT is a far superior technology. I realise that it isn’t great for especially powerful engines, but for anything up to 250cc or so, I don’t really see the need. Unless... See 'noise' below...

Comfort – Tie

A bit of a mixed evaluation on this one. The engine on the motorbike causes a LOT of vibrations, which means that the seat and steering wheel is constantly shuddering. I’ve ridden my scooter for 3 hours without getting rider’s fatigue, but after 3 hours on the MC, I was exhausted, largely because of the vibrations.

Having said that, though, the bigger wheels and vastly superior suspension system on the MC (it’s an off-road bike at heart, after all), means that it’s a much better match to London pot-holed streets. If I’m leaning over in a turn and hit a pothole on my scooter, I can pretty much guarantee a hairy moment. On the MC, the suspension just laps up the bumps, and you carry on with a smile.

... And don’t even get me started on cobblestones.

Noise - Tie

This is an interesting one as well. I have to admit that the MC is quite a noisy beast (It’s a 4-stroke carburettor engine), and the scooter is a technological masterpiece in comparison – it’s much, MUCH quieter, and has practically no vibration coming from the engine at all.

All of this sounds good, right? Surely, quiet is better? Well, to be honest, I’m wearing a motorcycle helmet and ear plugs anyway, so the noise doesn’t make that much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. In fact, motorcycle drivers – especially in rush hour traffic – have the advantage of being able to make people aware of their presence without using the horn, simply by declutching and giving some gas. The revving engine makes a loud, very easily recognisable sound (“I’m a motorcycle, I’m over here, don’t hit me, please”). In everyday traffic, you often see motorcyclists use their engines to draw attention to themselves, and it works really well. So the noise is more annoying, but if it may end up saving your skin...

Weight – MC is better / Tie

The point of gravity of the scooter is extremely low, but it’s also much heavier than the motorcycle. The MC, I could fling into tight corners, and keep it under tight control even when doing extremely small figure-eights and circles. Part of this is that the steering lock of the MC is much further from the centre than that of the scooter, but when stepping back on the scooter after having ridden the MC, I couldn’t help but dislike how un-manoeverable it is.

Having said that, though, most people don’t ride motorcycles with 125cc – I loved the XR, but I wouldn’t buy one myself – so the weight saving of riding an MC would probably be counteracted by choosing one with a bigger engine, which will almost certainly mean it’s heavier than the scooter again.

Handling – MC is better

Quite simply, the bigger wheels and huuuge suspension travel on the trail bike make it vastly superior than the scooter – it goes over speed bumps as if they weren’t there, it laps up potholes as if they were butter, and can even take on the occasional kerb if necessary. (Ride into a kerb with the scooter, and you’ll do damage to the scooter and probably fly off. Do the same with the MC, and it’ll complain, but you’ll probably end up being safe)

Filtering in tight traffic – Scooter is better

Going between two narrow rows of cars, there’s no competition whatsoever – riding slowly on a scooter is much easier than on a motorbike (although I’ve obviously ridden my scooter for nearly 10 months, while I have only ridden an MC for a few days in total), and learning to ride slowly is also significantly easier when there’s no clutch to worry about. The fact that it’s impossible to stall a scooter (unless there’s something physically wrong with the engine, or you’re out of fuel or something)

Fuel consumption – Scooter is better / Tie

The scooter has a fuel-injected 4-stroke, and is an altogether better put together engine than the carb-engined Honda. Having said that though, I don’t think the fuel efficiency is all that different – especially considering that the scooter is heavier. Besides, if I were to buy one, I’d probably go for a fuel-injected V-twin, which would help a lot with the vibrations (discussed above) and the fuel consumption relative to engine size.

Overall - I don't know...

Honestly, I don't know which one is the best. They're both mighty fine machines, but with difficult capabilities. I like the high-tech looks and the technologically advantages of the scooter, but I prefer the handling and feeling of safety of the MC.

Any thoughts and advice from the E2 gang would be greatly appreciated!


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