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# a426 :: CD opener keychain

April 18, 2009

To someone who uses knives as much as I do, this thing is about as useful as Truck Balls. You press it against the side of a sealed CD or DVD, depressing a spring-loaded cap to reveal a tiny steel blade that slices open the shrink-wrap. They were giving them away today at Amoeba for […]

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#a422 :: Steel ruler

April 14, 2009

Precision. Measurement. Millimeters. Inches. 1/64th inches. Fractions between the beginning of a thing and the end, the alpha and the omega. Steel ruler. Period.

Filed under: Fetish, steel, Tool | Comments (0)

#a420 :: 1-inch hex nut

April 12, 2009

I stumbled across this at Pasadena City College Swap Meet last Sunday. The college seems to be in a constant state of construction, and someone ha dropped it in the grass – a missing part for a mystery structure. It put me in mind of this Todd Rundgren song, the lyrics of which go something […]

Filed under: Found Object, Part, steel, Tool | Comments (0)

#a416 :: Fine drill set

April 8, 2009

Another import-tools swap-meet purchase: I can’t imagine what work requires the precision of an 80-gauge drillbit, but here it is, a set of wire-fine steel bits ranging from that hair-like thinness up through the comparatively meaty 61-gauge bit. I just bought the set so I could drill solder blobs out of a botched circuit board […]

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#a415 :: Stainless steel tweezers

April 7, 2009

Down near the very root of my DNA chain lies the chromosomal sequence for opposable thumbs. I use tools. Why? Because they grant me the otherwise elusive super-powers for cutting, twisting and manipulating things too hard, small, tight or delicate for my meaty paws to manage. Because they are often heavy and cold and sturdy, […]

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#a414 :: Miniature lighter

April 6, 2009

This flea-market find was stamped out of chromed steel in Japan some years ago. It’s an elegant, perfect little machine, barely 7/8ths of an inch tall: The horizontal tube on top is just big enough to house a flint and pressure spring, the wick is hardly thicker than a toothpick, and you could probably fill […]

Filed under: Fetish, Tool | Comments (0)

#a411 Ken Onion “Chive”

April 2, 2009

I have a

Filed under: Fetish, Part, Tool, weapon | Comments (2)

#a408 :: Meggy Jr. RGB

March 30, 2009

It’s finished. My son and I just soldered the last wires into place on this tonight, and it lit up perfectly. The Meggy Jr. RGB – a handheld video game with open-source, programmable memory chip – is ready for business. Eight solid hours we hunched over a dizzying array of resistors, capacitors, transistors and LED, […]

Filed under: Fetish, Instrument, Objet, Tool, Toy | Comments (0)

#a405 :: Qee by Jeff Soto

March 27, 2009

I’ve been a huge, drooling fan of Jeff Soto for years but couldn’t afford his work until I spotted this fine fellow in a little toy store the other side of the reservoir. Yes, he’s mass produced. No, it doesn’t matter. Done and done.

Filed under: Art, Ephemera, Objet, Tool, Toy | Comments (0)

#a399 :: Teeth-whitening strips

March 21, 2009

When your diet brings a steady stream of these as well as iced tea, coffee and the occasional cigar, you wind up with a mouthful of yellowed bone. It ain’t attractive. These seem to be wax strips backed with a miracle goop that is one part peroxide, one part dentifrice and one part glue. They […]

Filed under: Ephemera, Tool | Comments (0)

#a397 :: Chinese headlamp

March 19, 2009

The second one of these things to fail in five days. First, my dependable Cat-Eye flung itself to its death from a busted handlebar mount, the white beam tumbling wildly down to clatter in the dark. Then this, which snapped from its mount as I adjusted it on the way down my hill before dawn […]

Filed under: Jetsam, Tool | Comments (0)

#a393 :: Used car key

March 15, 2009

In all my years on this blog, I’ve never unpacked the symbology of a key. It’s almost so perfect a metaphor on its own, that trying to explain a key pretty much dooms you to being accused of mental masturbation. But a car key is profound. It represents a heavy, expensive and rather large member […]

Filed under: Fetish, Part, symbol, Tool, Toy, weapon | Comments (0)

#a391 :: Neodymium cylinder

March 13, 2009

I have a thing for magnets. These are powerful enough to leave blood blisters if you let two of them snap together on you. A single one can support close to 10 pounds, depending on how you rig it. And when you place pinballs around one the magnetism distributes evenly through five of them, a […]

Filed under: Instrument, Mineral, Tool, Toy | Comments (0)

#a387 :: Pinballs

March 9, 2009

Thanks to my dear longtime friend, former college classmate and co-conspirator John, I am now in possession of ten of the coolest, most perfect HLOs known to the art of manufacturing. Back in college, John and I poured an absurd amount of time (and hard-earned library wages) into pinball machines. There may have been other […]

Filed under: Fetish, symbol, Tool, Toy, weapon | Comments (3)

#a386 :: Promotional chalk

March 8, 2009

So, I got to ride bikes last night with Lance Armstrong, who was doing a commemorative group ride down Sunset to launch a big, fund-raising touring art exhibit. They gave out chalk to the 100 t-shirted riders and the other several hundred of us tagalongs, who promptly took to graffiti’ing up the street in a […]

Filed under: Ephemera, symbol, Tool | Comments (0)

#a383 :: Foreign mystery parcel

March 5, 2009

Oh, the wonder and menace of an unopened package from a foreign land. I know exactly what’s inside (I’ll blog it tomorrow) but it’s the promise of what it might contain that always spins me up. It bears all the markers of a Macguffin from a Hitchcock film – the lurid green packing paper, the […]

Filed under: Ephemera, symbol, Tool | Comments (0)

#a378 :: Shaving brush

February 28, 2009

Before the age of fluorocarbons and exotic esthers, a man used to scrub his bar of shaving soap into a lather with one of these, daub thge resulting suds onto his face and shave. I gave this to Dad for Christmas a few years ago, and he sent it along last month in a boxful […]

Filed under: Tool | Comments (0)

#a377 :: Floss capsule

February 27, 2009

My mother once began one of her wonderful short stories with the line, “Harry Farmer loved his teeth.” If I’ve gotten that wrong, I’m sure she’ll correct me here, as she will remind me of its title and which volume to find it in, and remember with me our many misadventures with our (own, not […]

Filed under: Ephemera, Tool | Comments (0)

#a376 :: Tiny screwdriver kit

February 26, 2009

Kikkerland is quite possibly the weirdest little purveyor of HLOs on the planet. Besides being responsible for the Kosmojetz and Zecar that brought endless hours of fruitless, silly play to my desktop, they make lamps, stationery and barware. I don’t know which category of modern-living fetishes this falls into, but it’s rather useful – a […]

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#a374 :: Cookie cutter

February 24, 2009

Girl Scout Cookie season is burgeoning, which means a surfeit of Brownietude at our place. Over the weekend, the kitchen filled with little girls (and a couple of moms) so fully that the boy and I took refuge in errands and a roller skating mission to Perry’s. When we returned the air smelled rich with […]

Filed under: Tool | Comments (0)

#a371 :: Computer glasses

February 21, 2009

This is meta: I usually shoot objects while looking through these. If I flip the metaphor, is there a little me down there on the stand running around behind the lenses with a camera, shooting up? Even spectacles have weird dreams.

Filed under: Adornment, Instrument, Tool | Comments (0)

#a367 :: Pull-tab collection

February 17, 2009

Used to be you’d tear open a can of beer (or pop or soda or Clamato or whatever) and throw away the aluminum tab. Or maybe you’d chuck it inside and risk swallowing it, lacerating your throat or lungs, and winding up a footnote in the New England Journal of Medicine. But at some point […]

Filed under: Jetsam, Tool | Comments (0)

#a366 :: Original copper transmission line – Hoover Dam

February 16, 2009

This is almost the holy grail of heavy little objects: a thing with history, patina, functionality, exciting manufacture and moving parts. Jesus, it made me one happy tool-using ape to find this: a chunk of the original copper electrical transmission line installed during construction of the mighty Hoover Dam. For five bucks you get a […]

Filed under: Artifact, Ephemera, Fetish, Jetsam, Part, symbol, Tool | Comments (2)

#a365 :: Lead type

February 15, 2009

It’s fitting that I mark the end of my second full year of daily obsession on this blog with such an archetypal handful of heavy little objects: I found these samples of a truly lovely display font in an antique shop in rural Arizona earlier this week – artifacts of a dead technology going for […]

Filed under: Artifact, Ephemera, Jetsam, Objet, symbol, Tool | Comments (2)

#a360 :: Temperance-era novelty bar tool

February 9, 2009

This conflicted fellow was cast in pot-metal and chromed in cheap silver probably more than 100 years ago. His top-hat is a jigger, his feet end in a spoon, the better to mix you a nice drink and present you with a little moral dilemma in the bargain: Do you spoon something into your drink, […]

Filed under: Artifact, Ephemera, Facsimile, My father's HLOs, Objet, Tool | Comments (2)