Thursday, March 31, 2005

I have invented a machine.

Who would have thought that in my advanced years I would rediscover a childhood love of machinery? Last week I would not have placed two bits on that particular fixation cropping up, yet here I am, the rather satisfied inventor of a curious bi-purposed contraption that both waters my victory garden and shreds paper documents 8.5" x 11" and smaller.

The inspiration for this device took the form of a television advertisement for a product sold under the name of "Hosey the Flow Cow," a simple cow-shaped plastic cutout with a swinging tail that holds a garden hose. The tail swings back and forth using a modest assortment of mechanical principles and the weight of the hose itself, and the overall effect causes a greater area to be watered than would occur with a stationary nozzle.

Something bit in the old sphere and ere long I was in the potting shed, fooling about over a countertop strewn with springs, gaskets, scrap aluminum and wire. It was the work of a quarter-hour to replicate the Hosey the Flow Cow action, and from there I thought to myself that I ought to milk every last bit of utility out of said device (one's thoughts do turn to conservation in old age). As the unit waved side-to-side across a fairly flat plane of about one foot, it seemed obvious that an armature with a multitude of blades affixed could be attached to the swinging hose so as to tear across a sheet of paper and reduce it to confetti.

The device functions beautifully. I have even placed a small terra cotta coaster beneath the shredding tray to catch the bits, and a single tea candle ignites them as they drift down, creating a warm updraft that takes some of the chill out of the water that falls across my vegetables. As I write this, Téodor and little Todd sit around it, transfixed as though by a campfire, smoking cigarettes and chatting. The overall effect is quite pleasant, in spite of Todd's remarkably vulgar vocabulary.