Saturday, June 16, 2007

Chinese Scooters and Paper Cranes

Last Tuesday I closed the deal on a barely used scooter, one of those knock-off Chinese faux Vespas. So for the past four days, sweaty of gloved palm, I've been riding around Portland on red alert, sporting a day-glow orange, hooded sweatshirt that you'd have to be blind not to see.

Talk about exposed.

Two days after my purchase, I read reference in David Reinhard's Oregonian column that he rides the very same model scooter. I happen to know David, disagree with him intensely and like him a lot. Yes, it is possible. Hint: He's a lot more personable than he comes across in his columns. So a call to David about his experience with the TN'G Milano (uh huh...) is in order. I'm hearing from reliable sources that I should expect "quality issues." David and I need to talk about things just possibly more dangerous than George W. Bush.

So far, I am having a fun adrenaline rush scooting about ever vigilant in a world of hazard — potholes, near-sighted drivers, loose gravel and wet, oily pavement.

The whole host of dangers is graphically described in the Oregon Motorcycle Driver's manual. Reading this dark little pamphlet is a little like reading the surgeon general's report on cigarette smoking. With this grim tract out there, it's a wonder there are any scooters in the state.

In an inelegant, disconnected transition from scooters to Origami, it's time to report that I've now tried my hand at folding peace cranes. I got lucky on my first attempt, a diminutive pink birdlike wad, but can't seem to replicate it. My plan, as reported earlier, is to fold (without spindling and mutilating) a string of cranes to "decorate" our Hillsdale bus stop's "Army Strong" recruiting sign. The goal is to make one paper crane for each of the 80 Oregonians who have died in the Iraq War.

It may take a while.

Tomorrow in the Farmers Market, while patrons savor chocolate-dipped strawberries, I'm hoping some patient soul will drop by my peace table and show this hardened visual learner a fool-proof way to turn a square piece of paper into a peace crane.

I know it can be done.

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