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#171 :: Doll Tea Service

July 29, 2004

online nurse ‘popup’, click ‘width=500, side effects height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>Blue-green metal in concentric descending rectangles form a frozen vortex. It was grown in a lab, so pure is its shape. An inch long, it could be the set for a remake of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari as staged by subatomic robots. I’ve Googled and Googled and can find no hint as to its true nature. The gift box it came in years ago has long since shed its tiny slip of paper with explanatory text. I’d be grateful if anyone out there could help me identify the metal.
viagra 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”>The invention of the white LED has sparked a renaissance in personal illumination. The carbon-battery-powered torch in 1899 began pushing back the darkness around us at night that was only somewhat held at bay by oil and kerosene lamps. Beef that up into brick-sized 9-volt-powered floods, tweak it into the shape of a cop’s metal nightstick – there’s not much more room for improvement. Batteries die. The light fades in 10 hours or so, and you’re left with a heavy implement full of dead weight. But this – this is a miner’s lamp for the digital era, a tiny sun with a hundred hours of life strapped to my forehead. I strap this thing on whenever I have to excavate beneath my desk for some lost plug, jack or thingummy. It came into the house a while back as a gift for my son, but I’m using it until he can be trusted not to leave it on and completely drain its $8 battery every time he uses it.
sickness ‘popup’, viagra ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>In another era, you could rimshot off the name of this device in a second – Heyaa, I’m here all week, don’t forget to tip your waitresses, try the veal it’s delicious – but this is 2004. The line between the sex roles is smearing, the po-mo mediasphere is awash in home-improvement shows, and now that porn is mainstream, nearly-genteel Victoria’s Secret catalogues are the new Hustler for the cheesecake hounds. And some factory somewhere is turning out a mystical device in gumdrop plastic with user-friendly instructions, cheerful LED indicators and a little integrated pocket clip – that can see through walls. In truth, it uses a magnetic field to “see” sheetrock screws or steel studs – a skill once left to carpenters with butt-crack beltlines and an uncanny ability to find solid wood behind plaster and lath simply by thumping on it with their callused fists. This runs on AAAs.
information pills ‘popup’, ampoule ‘width=500, order height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0′); return false”>There is a mysticism in Zen Buddhism that I feared I would never approach as an outsider – a holiness in the mundane, the worship of a pebble, a leaf, a puddle. Then my son handed me this. “Here. This is for you.” I’m dumbstruck. “What the … how did you … what is this?” I turned it over. The light shone through its translucent bottom. The accordion pleats seemed deformed by design, shaped with a mathematical certainty to a Brancusian rhythm and volume. “It’s a paper cup,” he said. “How did it get like …” He grabbed it, demonstrating how to put it on your mouth, form a tight seal, and simultaneously blow and shove the cup’s bottom toward your face. “No, wait! I get it! Don’t ruin it! It’s really cool!” Transfixed. Absolutely held in thrall by the alchemy of paper product, physics and impetuous boyhood. “Can I keep it?” He shrugged. “Sure.” He’s 4½. I wonder at times about my real age.
medications ‘popup’, ask ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>AA batteries weigh down each leg. Ignited by the toggle switch, a tiny electric motor spins inside. The main cog drives a wheel that spins on his back – a wheel with removable pins. The pins act as cams, driving the limbs as they rotate past the hip and shoulder joints. Springs on each limb supply recoil. Program his blows and stance by moving the pins. Stage elaborate battles. Wonder about his origins, lost in the baroque history of ’80s Japanese science fiction. Re-place the decorative foil stickers that keep falling off. Watch that mean right hook. He’s just 7 inches high, but he’s fast.
click ‘popup’, more about ‘width=500,height=500,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0’); return false”>The room where these are made must be light. (I was a potter once, and can picture it:) Powdery, white porcelain dust probably coats all tools, surfaces, the windows, and the makers’ hair, fingers and clothes as they shape the clay. Four cup-and-saucer pairs in each set, a tiny cream-and-sugar suite, a diminutive ewer for “tea.” A tinny radio plays news or dramas from state-run Chinese radio. The shop boss sits in the corner, chain-smoking, reading the paper and glancing up every now and then. It is hot, from the kiln in the next room. Deft fingers knead and mold the porcelain, forming tiny cups around their tips and then setting them – misshapen but good enough for export – onto a firebrick batt for drying. There are more than a thousand small tea vessels in this room, waiting to be fired. The third worker in the sixth row finishes one ball of clay, stretches her shoulders, then reaches into the cloth-capped bucket for another. The radio announcer reads another headline or makes another dramatic declaration. The boss turns the page.

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