“There is no real direction here, neither lines of power nor cooperation. Decisions are never really made – at best they manage to emerge, from a chaos of peeves, whims, hallucinations and all around assholery. ”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
From my blog (I called it an “Online Journal” then), The Daily Epiphany, Sunday, August 18, 2002
We knew the kids would be cranky today, so there wasn’t much planned. The only thing we felt up to was a trip to Fry’s to look at some electronics. While there, we decided to buy Nick a new computer. He plays the newest games so he gets the most powerful machine – everybody else gets the flow-down. I’ll take his old one and my old one and try to Frankenstein together a computer that will get through a few more years of digital progress (Lee’s is still going strong – I’m afraid to mess with it).
Since Nick had his birthday party and a new computer, I let Lee pick out something for himself. He decided on this little ten-dollar racing car kit. It’s from Japan, and runs on two double-A’s.
At home Lee opened the box on the coffee table and began trying to follow the obscure, badly-translated, instructions. The car is small, four-wheel drive, and full of tiny, delicate parts. Lee did really well, though – figuring out the drivetrain gears, shafts, and bearings like a pro.
He was worried when the drawings showed the application of what he thought was glue to the gearboxes. “If I get the glue in the wrong place, the car won’t work,” he complained to me. I took a close look and realized the stylized bottle with the little drops on the diagram wasn’t glue at all, but grease. “Oh, grease… sure,” said Lee and we cut the little bottle and dropped some drops of the white lithium lubricant in the proper spots.
I helped him with some tough screws, showing him how to use a set of jeweler’s screwdrivers we keep on hand for Candy’s glasses. “I was using a bent paperclip,” Lee admitted, “Those little screwdrivers work a lot better.”
By late afternoon, the thing was finished. It looked really cool. It has these guide wheels sticking out here and there – I guess it’s designed to run on some sort of model car track that must be popular somewhere. I’ve never seen one like that.
The problem is, the car is wicked fast. It does okay on carpet – where the thick pile slows the thing way, way down. Lee tried it in the kitchen on the smooth tile, though, and there it jumped out like a cannon shell. The little blur shot the length of the room and smashed into the oven before we could barely react, let alone catch the darn thing. Parts flew everywhere. No permanent damage, though, and soon it was all back together and working again.
I can’t believe the speed the thing gets out of two double-A’s. I wish I could figure out a place where we could really let it run.
And a piece of flash fiction for today: