Empty Days

Monday, August 23, 2004



White nights.

No sleep tonight, it would seem. In the dead of the night I decided to learn how to true a wheel... Bad idea. Ken Kifer offers helpful advice but my rear wheel is so terrifically wobbly I feel overwhelmed by the prospect of tightening so many spokes - especially since i am not at all sure I understand how this works exactly. I don't like the idea of over-doing it and then have a punctured tube because a spoke-head was tightened in a bit too boldly (already had that mysterious problem with one of the garbage wheels in my collection - upon revealing the insides found spoke-heads protruding atrociously: no wonder all the spokes felt so tight). All in all, not a good time to experiment with a working wheel - let it be as wobbly as it's always been and wobblier still. But the truing tool that I snatched from the store does seem to work even on a pretty rusty wheel (I applied some WD-40 though).

But since I am so worked up about this bike-mechanic moment, I may as well try to install that generator for head-light which is a bit too huge for my purposes though. I am pretty positive nothing will happen as the actual lamp must be thoroughly unusable at this stage in its long and unknown life (I don't even know where I got it from in the first place). How am I going to test that the generator works? Don't know yet - I have a pocket lamp: it should respond to power, no? 6v/3w.

*

Some hours later... Well - it doesn't make sense installing a generator on a really wobbly wheel since there are sizable gaps in contact. I don't have assembly material that could fasten it on the front-wheel which is fairly straight (forks are too wide as opposed to the rear-fork tubes). In most of my childhood bikes the generator was always on the front wheel - I guess this is way too european.

Another hilarious thing is that I am so lousy in basic physics that I don't even know how to create a test with a pocket-torch lamp and the generator. I vaguely sense that it's gotta be easy but I can't remember the required conditions. In such cases I usually appeal to my brother but this is too much of a short notice right now. In all such things a clear understanding of how electricity works is essential - unfortunately I am sadly lacking in the abc of it. Project postponed due to ignorance.

*

Skies are as overcast and gray and rainy as has been anounced - which also means that I may well trust that tomorrow will be very different, just as they said on tv.

I hear that weather is horribly cold in the prairies (below or quite near zero C, killing crops) and vermonters are complaining of too much rain all through july and august. I guess Montreal escaped this bad trend - we've been having fairly decent weather lately, though without those huge heat waves in July. It was not a brilliant summer but it wasn't all awful as in some other places.

*

Another thing that I need to find a solution to is that I have a bad back and my spine gets killed on my garbage bike. It's gotten progressively worse. I likely need to raise handlebars but the frame is made for a man and I really don't fit the profile - the handlebar will always be too far from the seat, no matter what I do (luckily they're very curved-back, so I usually ride with my hands just on the tips of it). It's also true that I haven't been able to pull out the handlebar stem on my own - it's either rusty or I am too weak, but it just doesn't bulge. This is one of the eternal problems with garbage bikes - there are things I can't handle because they're too rusty and wouldn't move and I lack mere physical force to force them out. Even changing tyres can be exhausting, often because the tyre rubber is so caked it wouldn't stretch. If my very-old rear tyre blows on the road I will likely spend the rest of the day trying to put it back. I've broken quite a few of those plastic tyre levers this way and had to use screw-drivers instead.

My worst experience was in Berlin where I found an abandoned Dutch bike and tried to fix a flat on it - the tyre was made of rubber so tough (or so old, or both) I nearly died trying to deal with it. It was a nice bike though - too bad I had to leave it in the end, it proved too much for my frail person. I can well say that such rubber is simply not found in modern bikes - even the thickest cheapest kind is still a joke compared to that 1950's monster. I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that in those days they made tyres the same for bikes and cars.

*

I have a substantial growth in my right breast to the point that I am feeling it practically all the time now. It progressed a lot over July. It the growth is not malign, I wonder why it grows so fast. Will go for a full check up right after my trip. Who knows: this summer might be my last, or at least it might be my last summer of relative autonomy. Whatever fates hold in store I will accept - including lengthy waning away and early departure.

I've been asking for death too often - I am usually granted all I am asking for. Just my version of luck.

*

It's interesting: if I go down with cancer now, I wonder what I could say of my life up to this point. The most accurate account would be to say that it's been exceptionally chaotic and meaningless. Which does not mean that I will be glad to see it terminated - it's been a senseless ride but it's been a ride one way or another.

People live their lives in blindness - and one fine day this blind walk comes to an end, for no particular reason. There is no moral lesson to learn from this, it's only in books that life is presented in terms of meaning and subject-line. It's the biggest lie and a very comforting one too - people have to invent meaning where none exists. The stuff of reality, which is pure non-meaning, is kept incommunicado - we can't share the very heart of our lives which is made of utter meaninglessness. So we keep telling tall tales but deep down every one knows that none of this ever made sense. Nevertheless the mad ride continues for the sake of movement - and as every traveller secretly knows, movement is always more important than destination.

Life needs no justification - it's destinations and goals that always need one.





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