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#153 :: Spoke Wrench

July 12, 2004

health cialis 40mg ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>We assume they’ll arrive in saucers, ablaze with circumfrential light arrays that strobe and dazzle. We assume they’ll be small, green or gray, with vast black eyes and skeletal fingers. We assume they’ll be benevolent or at least exotically distant enough to not be bloodthirsty, rapacious, radioactive, toxic, greedy, mean or any of the other malevolent human adjectives they might be if our worst fears were made alien flesh. We assume they’ll be able to communicate, and maybe they’ll do so with the flashing, spinny lights and mellifluous tones. Clutching these assumptions to our hearts, we build toys in Their image. This one is a ratchet-driven, spring-loaded top. Crank it up. Punch the chrome trigger, and it unwinds, spinning suddenly up to about 600 RPM. Centrifugal force closes a spring-loaded circuit, igniting the onboard chip that feeds random patterns to its sound chip and string of onboard LEDs, which spit intoxicating mandalas of light and noise as the craft floats across the floor on a small, sharp tip. They might arrive in one of these. Maybe even this size. They might.
physician ‘popup’, diagnosis ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>A good pen is a transformative tool. If it is heavy and strange enough in your hand, it opens pathways in your writing circuitry where none existed, allowing creative flow from channels hitherto untapped. There is nothing so heavy and strange, nor pleasureable and – for the money – full of cheap thrills – as a Japanese-made pen. You can grab them for a few hundred yen if you’re lucky enough to visit Tokyo, or for a bit more in Japanese goods stores in the U.S., so long as you give up hope of ever finding a refill when the ink runs out. The spring-loaded plunger at the head of this fluted rubber instrument drives a fat ballpoint nib down through a ziggurat-stepped nozzle, sending a charge of techno-authority through my hand. I could jot down spare parts lists for my basement cybernetics lab, design holographic sleepwear, sign intergalactic treaties with it. It hits the desk drawer not with a click, but with a padded thud.
nurse ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>A hard-jawed private dick would never furnish his offices. He’d pay a guy, unload the water-damaged boxes of case files from the beaten trunk of his Chrysler Airflow – no, wait, his clapped-out old Nash – and move in. He’d sag into the gutshot leather club chair, kick his feet up on the fringe of cigarette burns ringing the sagging mahogany desk and pour a shot of something strong into the cold cup of coffee he got six blocks and three hours away before he finally found this damn place. He’d look up at some point, and notice this little thing clipped to the old bookshelf behind him, and switch it on. Dim light would pool across his shoulder, the arm of the chair, the chipped mug. And he’d sigh, flip open a file and dig in. Two hours later, smoke-stung eyes would force him to close the file. He’d knuckle his lids and reach up to switch off the lamp – and immediately earn a wicked burn across the fingertips from the bulb-cooked metal. He’d curse and suck his fingers for a second, shooting a glare at the convex glass lens capping the little bullet shape – at the pointless token air vents, and resisting the urge to wrench it off the shelf and put it through the frosted glass of his o.:ffice door. Once more, he’d reach up and gingerly tweak the switch, this time finding darkness. Then he’d shrug on his rank trenchcoat and lurch out into the night. (Five bucks at a flea market years ago. I just rewired it the other day. It looks best with a clear bulb, which gives the light a fluid, “live” quality. It bears no maker’s marks, and thus defies casual research.)
information pills ‘popup’, try ‘width=500, this site height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>Given: the elephant in the old parable is a rope, a bumpy wall, a hose, a smooth and pointy dagger, a sturdy tree – so say the old blind men. Therefore: this HLO entry is an imaginary flight to a synthetic forest of vinyl trees and cellophane flowers; a lament for the faded illustrator’s art of airbrushing, which has been lost not quite entirely to Adobe and other computer-based simulacra, but backed into the tiny niches of special effects makeup, motorcycle tank art, high-end manga paintings and mass-produced insects; a bitter rant on commonly held notions of “beauty” that revere rhinestones, rainbows, pink silk, flowers, gold-plated anything, large-eyed moppets and butterflies in any quantity, color or substance; the steady surf of tiny, crappy little toys through any house with young children; and how did the makers of this 3-inch-wide vinyl butterfly ever envision children playing with it? Ceci n’est pas une papillon.
mind ‘popup’,’width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>You put your bikes on the roof racks. You pack the car with sleeping bags and stove and food and wine and toys an family. You stop in at McDonald’s to fuel up with grease-puck sandwiches and caffeinated fizzydrinks for your massive camping trip to Yosemite. You pull out of the drivethrough and – for just a second – into a metered parking space to whip out a knife and split a puck for the kids. “Uh-oh,” your wife says. “Parking Nazi.” You look up and see the overweight bike-patrol Parking Authority goon ticketing the car parked in front of you, and you panic. Rather than jumping out to just feed the meter, you mutter, “crap” and quickly goose the car across the street to park at the drive-through drycleaners. You finish carving up the sandwich, lick the grease off your knife, pocket it, say “All righty, let’s GO!” and punch the accelerator to head for the street. The sickening, horrific crunch reminds you that you are a moron. You have just driven through the drycleaners’ drivethrough, and the little overhead roof has completely peeled the bikes off the car’s roof, trashed the rack. The crash has reduced your Cannondale Lefty‘s wheel to an unrideable pretzeloid – and all your kindly, fatherly demeanor to a gutter-mouthed ball of self-directed rage. After much cursing and struggling, you rope the remains of your vacation to the roof, and set off for Fresno, where you spend two hours going from bike shop to bike shop in search of a wheel rim so you won’t have to walk (or worse, drive) all over Yosemite Valley. The third shop comes through. Rim in hand, you make it to Yosemite on the last fringes of a five-alarm migraine, pitch camp and fall into your tent, resolved to lace up the new wheel in the morning. You begin the painstaking job with trepidation, at first, carefully mapping old spoke locations to new wheel holes so you don’t bollix up the math, but things go more quickly, and the nifty little spoke wrench they sold you fairly flies around the spokes as you relace the wheel. Then you run out of spokes. They sold you the wrong rim – too many holes. A borrowed bike keeps the camping trip from being a total disaster, but on the way back through Fresno, you find the offending bike shop closed for the holiday. And now you’ve got this worthless $70 wheel rim and the bike’s still broken. And you have this spoke wrench.

Filed under: Tool | Comments (2)


  1. A Reader July 13, 2004 @ 2:06 am

    What about it?

  2. mack July 13, 2004 @ 10:35 am

    Good point. I put the photo up last night and published without adding the text. I shouldn’t work so late. Here, gimme a minute …