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'IT' Revealed. Self-Balancing People Mover (My title: Electric Scooter with gyros)
Drudge ^ | 12-02-01 | Drudge

Posted on 12/02/2001 5:00:19 PM PST by Timm

IT' REVEALED; 'SEGWAY' SELF-BALANCING PEOPLE MOVER, BILLED AS ALTERNATIVE TO CARS

After months of hype, an inventor is set to unveil an electric scooter being billed as an environmentally friendly alternative to cars.

Dean Kamen's long-awaited, secret invention, the Segway "will be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy," he tells TIME on the eve of his product's unveiling.

Kamen imagines them everywhere: in parks and at Disneyland, on battlefields and factory floors, but especially on downtown sidewalks from Seattle to Shanghai. "Cars are great for going long distances," Kamen says, "but it makes no sense at all for people in cities to use a 4,000-lb. piece of metal to haul their 150-lb asses around town."

In the future he envisions, cars will be banished from urban centers to make room for millions of "empowered pedestrians" - empowered, naturally, by Kamen's brainchild, reports John Heilemann in next week's issue.

The invention is set to be unveiled Monday morning during ABC's GOOD MORNING AMERICA.

MORE

The Segway is a self-balancing people mover - powered by batteries and controlled by tilt-sensors and five solid state gyroscopes - that looks like a rotary lawnmower. The magic is in the balancing act ð no matter how hard you try, it won't let you fall.

For the past three months, Kamen allowed TIME behind the veil of secrecy as he and his team grappled with the questions that they will confront - about everything from safety and pricing to the challenges of launching a product with the country at war and the economy in recession.

There is no denying that the Segway, previously code-named "IT" and "Ginger," is an engineering marvel, reports Heilemann, who rode on the machine many times. Developed at a cost of more than $100 million, Kamenis vehicle is a complex bundle of hardware and software that mimics the human bodyis ability to maintain its balance. Not only does it have no brakes, but also no engine, no throttle, no gearshift, and no steering wheel. And it can carry the average rider for a full day, nonstop, on only five cents' worth of electricity.

Kamen explains how the Segway works: "When you walk, youire really in whatis called a controlled fall. You off-balance yourself, putting one foot in front of the other and falling onto them over and over again. In the same way, when you use a Segway, thereis a gyroscope that acts like your inner ear, a computer that acts like your brain, motors that act like your muscles, wheels that act like your feet. Suddenly, you feel like you have on a pair of magic sneakers, and instead of falling forward, you go sailing across the room."

As Kamen and his team were working on the IBOT wheelchair ð a six-wheel machine that goes up and down curbs, cruises effortlessly through sand or gravel, and climbs stairs - it dawned on them that they were onto something bigger. "We realized we could build a device using very similar technology that could impact how everybody gets around," he says. The IBOT was also the source of Gingeris mysterious codename. "Watching the IBOT, we used to say, ÈLook at that light, graceful robot, dancing up the stairsiÐso we started referring to it as Fred Upstairs, after Fred Astaire," Kamen recalls. "After we built Fred, it was only natural to name its smaller partner Ginger." With Ginger, as with the IBOT, Kamen explains, "the big idea is to put a human being into a system where the machine acts an extension of your body."

With the Segway, Kamen plans to change the world by changing how cities are organized. To Kamenis way of thinking, the problem is the automobile. "Cities need cars like fish need bicycles," he says. Segways, he believes, are ideal for downtown transportation. Unlike cars, they are cheap, clean, efficient, maneuverable. Unlike bicycles, they are designed specifically to be pedestrian friendly. "A bike is too slow and light to mix with trucks in the street but too large and fast to mix with pedestrians on the sidewalk," he argues. "Our machine is compatible with the sidewalk. If a Segway hits you, itis like being hit by another pedestrian."

Ordinary consumers wonit be able to buy Segways for at least a year, a consumer model is expected to go on sale for about $3,000, Heilemann reports. For now, the first customers will be deep-pocketed institutions such as the U.S. Postal Service and General Electric, the National Parks Service and Amazon.comÐ institutions capable of shelling out $8,000 apiece for industrial-strength models.

TIME also takes a hard look at the question of whether this product will really make it in the consumer market. "The consumer market is always harder," Intel chairman Andy Grove, who also rode the Segway, told Heilemann. "But when you think about it, the corporate market is almost unlimited. If the Postal Service and FedEx deploy this for all their carriers, the company will be busy for the next five years just keeping up with that demand."


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A fascinating new technology that almost certainly won't sell outside of a small niche in the consumer market.

In case any of the inventor's claims sound familiar, it's because they mirror the claims made by hopeful city planners over the past three decades. Any minute now, we've been told, cities would wake up and ban cars from city centers and make everyone walk, ride a bike, or take a bus.

Whatever it is you think of such planning schemes, the important point for present purposes is that the reason these things have not yet happened is not that planners said, "yeah, it would be a really great idea to close off city centers to car traffic. The problem is people will just keep falling off their scooters. If only there were a way to prevent that..."

We already have bikes, busses, running shoes, and scooters. Now that we have slow scooters you can't fall off of-- for only $3,000 plus electricity and maintenance--I wouldn't expect things to change very much.

Is there anyone out there interested in an alternative to sitting in a car in a city? Try a plain old bike. Despite what you might think, cycling on a plain old bicycle on public roads is safer per hour than driving a car. No, you can't carry a whole lot on one, but if you just want to get yourself from A to B without parking and other problems you probably already have an alternative in your garage.

1 posted on 12/02/2001 5:00:20 PM PST by Timm
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To: Timm
No offense man, but there are like 3 threads about this. Let the search feature be your friend.
2 posted on 12/02/2001 5:04:57 PM PST by Semper911
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To: Timm
Today where I live it was drizzing all day and about 40 degrees. Yeah, I'm going to trade my nice warm car in on a $3,000 scooter. When monkeys fly out of my butt.
3 posted on 12/02/2001 5:06:25 PM PST by Bubba_Leroy
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To: Timm
Pure hype. Here today, gone tomorrow. Wow, I can't wait to scoot around town on a gyro balanced scooter. Wait a minute, I already can scoot around town on a non-gyro balanced, gas or electric motor scooter. So why is nobody doing it now other that a handful of teenage boys? Because it is not practical, that's why. What a joke. Leave it to Time magazine.
4 posted on 12/02/2001 5:06:28 PM PST by CdMGuy
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To: Timm
The Segway is a self-balancing people mover - powered by batteries and controlled by tilt-sensors and five solid state gyroscopes - that looks like a rotary lawnmower. The magic is in the balancing act ð no matter how hard you try, it won't let you fall.

VAAAGGGUUUEEE!!!

Can anyone else make sense of that description?
5 posted on 12/02/2001 5:08:31 PM PST by ijk
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To: Timm
"Cars are great for going long distances," Kamen says, "but it makes no sense at all for people in cities to use a 4,000-lb. piece of metal to haul their 150-lb asses around town

Considering my car only weighs 3200 lbs and I get to listen to the radio while driving, makes perfect sense to me to haul my tail around town in it rather than your enviromentally friendly scooter. Can it go over 80? Wouldn't want it anyway. Just another enviro-whacko friendly device brought to you by the 'save the ozone' nuts

6 posted on 12/02/2001 5:11:17 PM PST by billbears
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To: Bubba_Leroy
Today where I live it was drizzing all day and about 40 degrees

Yup. And where I live, temps were in the single digits last weekend. Plus, I have three kids and a wife. I can just see us trailing along like a herd of ducks on our scooters.

Like it or not, cities are always going to need car-sized streets, because there are plenty of uses for cars and trucks, and only one use for a scooter.

7 posted on 12/02/2001 5:13:41 PM PST by r9etb
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To: Semper911
If you have the links to those threads provide them. I haven't seen this extensive of a post yet. Perhaps you have.
8 posted on 12/02/2001 5:14:44 PM PST by DoughtyOne
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To: Timm
YAWN. Drudge swallowed the hype BIGTIME on this one.
9 posted on 12/02/2001 5:15:22 PM PST by martin_fierro
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To: r9etb
I have three kids and a wife. I can just see us trailing along like a herd of ducks on our scooters.
**********
Pretty funny!

Actually, I was more excited about his other invention which makes steps and other obstacles accessible to handicapped people. I could definitely see all sorts of advantages to supplying abunch of those at the street sides of many buildings INSTEAD OF spending tens of billions of dollars buuilding ramps. Or the super-expensive "kneeler" buses which I think are used somewhere in Florida which cost about $100,000 more than a regular bus, just so a guy in a wheelchair can roll in. Obviously it would have been cheaper to buy every handicapped a free taxi ride for the rest of their lives.

10 posted on 12/02/2001 5:22:04 PM PST by wildandcrazyrussian
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To: Timm
This should be interesting. It may be a flop. It may not. The technology is interesting. We shall see. I'm not convinced it will be the hit they thought it would be. But I'm not convinced it won't make them a lot of money either.
11 posted on 12/02/2001 5:23:27 PM PST by DoughtyOne
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To: Timm
As Chris Farley might say if he were still alive,"Well la-dee frikkin da." I thought it was some kinda of fuel cell, but noooo! Its a scooter. The scooter fad already came and went.
12 posted on 12/02/2001 5:25:25 PM PST by Dialup Llama
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To: DoughtyOne
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/fr/582273/posts

The article is at post #43, along with 125 replies from earlier today.

13 posted on 12/02/2001 5:25:35 PM PST by Semper911
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To: Timm
This “invention” is idiotic! This is hype to try to raise money for something that doesn’t work. A “brilliant” invention goes right on the market and starts selling right away. This is a hoax.
14 posted on 12/02/2001 5:25:42 PM PST by Fred25
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To: billbears
It's not "brought to you" by anyone other than a guy who invented a kidney dialysis machine. Is that a liberal-wacko invention?

I'm not saying the hype is deserved, but you can be more intelligent in your criticism than labelling anything you don't like as "Leftist."

You MIGHT be correct that some nutjobs will use it to harp on their pet issues, but that's not the same as saying the inventor saying we should revert to a pre-industrial age.

15 posted on 12/02/2001 5:30:15 PM PST by Skywalk
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To: Timm
Hmm - cars banned from downtown areas - forcing people to buy his thing (or else - do a controlled fall on your own two feet). I can envision the huge parking lots outside of downtown where you swap your car for IT. this dude becomes richer than Bill Gates...is he a Dem? Oh no! If so they will fight like hell to get laws passed to pave the way for this thing. Then of course he will make huge contributions to the Democratic party, money that was squeezed out of the public. I think one of these could be useful in a industrial setting but PLEASE lets keep them off the sidewalks.
16 posted on 12/02/2001 5:32:04 PM PST by dr gene scott
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To: Timm
Wonder what the reason is for the phonetic spelling of 'segue'?
17 posted on 12/02/2001 5:34:58 PM PST by Post Toasties
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To: Fred25
"This “invention” is idiotic! This is hype to try to raise money for something that doesn’t work. A “brilliant” invention goes right on the market and starts selling right away. This is a hoax."

BWAHAHAHA!! There is something idiotic here, all right--it isn't the invention, but your commentary. Obviously you don't know anything about the process of inventing and marketing. NOTHING "goes right on the market and starts selling right away". Since he already has a working model that people have ridden, it's hard to see how it can be a hoax.

18 posted on 12/02/2001 5:37:13 PM PST by Wonder Warthog
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To: Timm
"Cars are great for going long distances," Kamen says, "but it makes no sense at all for people in cities to use a 4,000-lb. piece of metal to haul their 150-lb asses around town."

Guess this shmo Kamen hasn't thought out what would happen to somebody riding the 'segway' (sic) at International Falls with 4" of snow and ice on the ground @ 10 below with 40mph wind gusts.

19 posted on 12/02/2001 5:38:54 PM PST by Post Toasties
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To: Timm
Is this the same gizmo that was on South Park a couple weeks ago? In fact, I thought they called it, "IT." It was for a single person, balanced by gyros, ran on batteries, but had a dildo-type apendage that the person sat on, etc. It was to go about 300-400 mph and compete against the commercial airline companies.
20 posted on 12/02/2001 5:40:58 PM PST by Rockyrich
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To: dr gene scott
PLEASE lets keep them off the sidewalks

Yep, something like this would be a serious hazard to pedestrians. I'd want to see a serious anti-collision, anti-hazard system (e.g. can't plow into a pedestrian or a show window or fall off a curb) integrated into any machine this massive before letting it into any area where it will mix freely with pedestrians and bicyclists. There's a reason why motor vehicles aren't allowed on sidewalks and their drivers are licensed.

21 posted on 12/02/2001 5:45:13 PM PST by HiTech RedNeck
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To: Timm
I repeat myself, but: bugger 'It'. And bugger Harry Potter, too.
22 posted on 12/02/2001 5:45:17 PM PST by Grut
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To: Wonder Warthog
Since he already has a working model that people have ridden, it's hard to see how it can be a hoax.

You just wait and see. This guy is like the guys who invent all the “perpetual motion” machines that never work.

23 posted on 12/02/2001 5:51:39 PM PST by Fred25
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To: DoughtyOne
Im into drag racing, and I can picture lots of folks using somthing like this instead of a mini bike, moped/scooter, bike ect...

Something like this sounds like a dream to pit crews. I remember when CD players were Huge dollars. DVD players were very expensive only a few years ago. now you can get one for less than $200.

24 posted on 12/02/2001 5:52:34 PM PST by Leper Messiah
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To: Wonder Warthog
From the article.....

”If the Postal Service and FedEx deploy this for all their carriers, the company will be busy for the next five years just keeping up with that demand."

This is idiotic. This is a snow job.

25 posted on 12/02/2001 5:54:35 PM PST by Fred25
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To: Timm
Dean Kamen's long-awaited, secret invention, the Segway "will be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy," he tells TIME on the eve of his product's unveiling.

Yeah right! When its 20 below zero I'm gonna hop on my 3000 dollar scooter and ride to work, praying that I don't freeze to death or get robbed while scooting through the downtown! That quote above is some major league HYPE!

26 posted on 12/02/2001 5:55:59 PM PST by Walkin Man
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To: Leper Messiah
I agree that there is potential. It is difficult to assess before we know what the device is truly like however. I am looking forward to the Good Morning American show tomorrow morning. This is the first time in my life I've made that statement. Heh heh.
27 posted on 12/02/2001 5:56:48 PM PST by DoughtyOne
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To: Timm
Recession world wide is a great time to unviel this. NOT!
28 posted on 12/02/2001 5:57:48 PM PST by A CA Guy
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To: Fred25
There's little doubt that nuclear powered automobiles could also be mass produced, also (just think - no pollution & no waiting at the gas pump!, but they're not, for some pretty obvious reasons.
29 posted on 12/02/2001 6:01:35 PM PST by Post Toasties
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To: r9etb
Like it or not, cities are always going to need car-sized streets, because there are plenty of uses for cars and trucks, and only one use for a scooter.

Very narrow niche:

How many places meet the above criteria?
30 posted on 12/02/2001 6:05:13 PM PST by SauronOfMordor
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To: Walkin Man
Exactly. Also, how about down here in Texas when it's 100+ degrees, or anywhere after dark!
31 posted on 12/02/2001 6:07:29 PM PST by rimtop56
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To: Post Toasties
but they're not, for some pretty obvious reasons.

Yeah. They’d weigh 20,000 pounds, they’d be filled with boiling water, and they’d be very dangerous.

32 posted on 12/02/2001 6:09:48 PM PST by Fred25
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To: Timm
Word has it, Ford is re-introducing the Mach-1 Mustang next Fall. 320 H.P., all the bells & whistles. Hmmm... that, or this contraption? I cannot wait to pass one on the street, especially after some exhaust modifications. And I'll be warm and listening to Rush on the radio.
33 posted on 12/02/2001 6:11:39 PM PST by Long Cut
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To: Timm
A fascinating new technology that almost certainly won't sell outside of a small niche in the consumer market.

Reminds me about what the CEO of IBM said about computers, when first asked about them. He said that he wasn't interested, since at their multi-million dollar cost, there would never be more than half a dozen computers in the country. When the first IBM PC's came out they were on sale for about $2000, in 1980 dollars, much more than the price of this machine. Today you can get far more advanced machines for about $200, used.

A reasonable assumption is that a high tech machine becomes 90% cheaper every decade. That would make this thing $300 in 2010 and $30 in 2020. I would think that you could get some market penetration at that price. The reasons against comparing this gadget to a bike are in the article. I would think that there would be a large potential market for this device among those unable to walk more than a few steps, the folks you see driving around on those motorized wheelchairs. Those things are not very agile, whereas apparently with this thing, they could go anywhere a person could walk or climb. I'm going to be very interested in this gadget.

34 posted on 12/02/2001 6:12:43 PM PST by Lucius Cornelius Sulla
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To: Timm
I really don't have enough information, but there could be big problems if IT is allowed to operate on sidewalks.
Highway and street usage looks like suicide.
If IT is successful, would cities have to put in special IT paths?
Just what we need more ways to spend taxpayer funds.

BTW I wonder if these motor vehicles will need to be licensed and registered.

35 posted on 12/02/2001 6:13:24 PM PST by VetoBill
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To: VetoBill
This thing is a $3,000 skateboard with a flywheel on it.
36 posted on 12/02/2001 6:15:22 PM PST by Fred25
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To: Timm
But, can I use my Cell phone, and Walkman while scootting down Fifth AVe., in the rain?

bill

37 posted on 12/02/2001 6:17:00 PM PST by njmaugbill
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To: Long Cut
Word has it, Ford is re-introducing the Mach-1 Mustang next Fall. 320 H.P.

Add about 50 or 60 H.P. and you would be back to the *Good Old Days*.

38 posted on 12/02/2001 6:17:23 PM PST by The Cajun
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To: Lucius Cornelius Sulla
$300 in 2010 and $30 in 2020

Trust me. You'll never see the segway (sic) for those prices then, if it's even still available.

39 posted on 12/02/2001 6:17:33 PM PST by Post Toasties
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To: Fred25
A “brilliant” invention goes right on the market and starts selling right away.

Before it is manufactured? that's a good trick!

40 posted on 12/02/2001 6:18:05 PM PST by Lucius Cornelius Sulla
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To: HiTech RedNeck
Yeah, but we could really use a contraption like this at my job...three large warehouse-type bldgs - this could save some wear & tear on my little tootsies!!
41 posted on 12/02/2001 6:18:23 PM PST by dr gene scott
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To: Timm
Not only does it have no brakes, but also no engine, no throttle, no gearshift, and no steering wheel. And it can carry the average rider for a full day, nonstop, on only five cents' worth of electricity.

I have a big problem believing with the bold thingies.

42 posted on 12/02/2001 6:21:32 PM PST by The Cajun
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To: HiTech RedNeck
this massive

about 20 pounds, right.

43 posted on 12/02/2001 6:23:11 PM PST by Lucius Cornelius Sulla
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To: The Cajun
Sigh. Too true, but the car looks wild(check the net, blueovalnews.com is a good start) and 50 or 60 ponies is easy to pull from this motor. They're also talking about a 400-H.P. supercharged Cobra called the "Terminator" as Ford's answer to the 'Vette. Once again, driving any of these examples of American Spirit (preferably with open headers) past a "seg-gay" at redline would be sheer patriotic bliss.
44 posted on 12/02/2001 6:23:24 PM PST by Long Cut
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To: Timm
"Cities need cars like fish need bicycles"

Kamen's next great invention...

Cities without rain, sleet, high wind or snow.

Or perhaps a big bio dome to cover all our cities.

No doubt this technology is pretty smooth and will be exploited to it's max by the US Military and others but I dont see it changing the cityskape quite yet.

45 posted on 12/02/2001 6:23:24 PM PST by VaBthang4
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To: dr gene scott
your tootsies might like IT, but your heart needs some excersise.
46 posted on 12/02/2001 6:26:12 PM PST by imperator2
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To: Long Cut
a 400-H.P. supercharged Cobra called the "Terminator"

Now that perked the old Cajun's ears up ;^)

47 posted on 12/02/2001 6:26:43 PM PST by The Cajun
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To: Fred25
This is idiotic. This is a snow job.

I'm not sure where you got your engineering degree, but I have a suggestion. If you don't want one, DON'T BUY ONE!!

48 posted on 12/02/2001 6:27:36 PM PST by Lucius Cornelius Sulla
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To: Timm
And this is superior to a golf cart because???.....
49 posted on 12/02/2001 6:29:39 PM PST by The Duke
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To: Walkin Man
I'm gonna hop on my 3000 dollar scooter and ride to work

And how do you get into work, if you can't walk more than a few steps? How about getting onto your 300 dollar walking machine and going through the lot.

50 posted on 12/02/2001 6:30:40 PM PST by Lucius Cornelius Sulla
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