Sunday, December 05, 2010


Mom always used to say, when I was trying to “fix” something (usually attempting to wedge open a jelly jar or pry a bottle cap off my favorite condiment), “Science, David, not brute force.”

And, on those rare occasions when I’d listen to her good advice, I’d stop what I was doing, take a breath, and instead of gritting my teeth and grinding against whatever inanimate object I was fumbling with, I’d use my head and look at the problem differently and then, perhaps, do something like tap the side of the jelly jar to release the lid’s pressure so it would spin easily off or run some hot water on the ketchup top so I could remove it.

Of course, I wouldn’t thank her, but I’m pretty sure that the satisfaction she derived from being right was gratitude enough; she’d take a sip of her ice coffee and return to her detective novel looking pleased in spite of herself.

Sometimes, though, brute force is what’s required, or at least some serious elbow grease combined with a big tool made especially for such tasks. I speak, of course, of the effort required to fix the handlebars I bent the other night when I took a little dive off the seat of my bicycle, ass over teakettle.

Thanks to Alex Kostelnik of 2020 Cycle and a tool that looked something like this, I am now, once again, the proud owner of a bike whose cockpit isn’t all cattywhompus; while it might not be exactly back to where it was before I took my dive, it’s plenty good enough to ride and ride safely for years to come.

I pretty sure science was employed in the process, (we puzzled for a bit about the best angle to take and how to get the best leverage, but I’m also pretty sure that the main thing that enabled us to successfully complete the fix is that Alex is an animal.



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