Monday, June 02, 2008


I've been looking for a bike. There's some I like which are really expensive. About $1,000. I want something cheap that I don't mind getting stolen. Nearly every place sells only new. I've been asking friends for recommendations, and Claire recommended "Biltema". "Bil" means "car" and I think it started out as a car store, then expanded into boats and hardware and outdoorsy things.

I didn't like the bikes. The prices were right. I'm looking for something with more than 3 gears. I would like only hand brakes, like my old bike had, but most city bikes here are foot breaks, with perhaps also one hand brake. But I've also decided that I want the fuzzy warm feeling of having someone knowledgeable helping me out, and this was a big box store. Yep, Sweden has big box stores. I was about to link to an aerial map but most of the way through figured out that, really, it's an aerial photo of a bunch of big box stores surrounded Christo-like by parking lots.

Tomorrow then (Sunday, but I wrote this on Saturday and didn't post it until Monday) will be another day of walking, walking, walking. Not that I mind overly much, but it is starting to get monotonous. Perhaps that's another reason I should relocate in this town. On the plus side, I've discovered a new way to get to the Linnéplatsen area, so I don't need to move just yet.

Many stores are open on Saturdays but with short hours. I went to one recommended store which might sell used bikes and found it closed at 1pm. I got there at about 2pm. I browsed a bit at Myrorna ("the ants" - it's run by Sweden's Salvation Army. In Swedish you say "busy as an ant", which might explain the expression, or perhaps the old story about the cricket not saying up for the winter while the ants were working. I don't know if that's made it here.). Just looking at what clothes I might want to buy. I really need a new belt and pants.

Then to Biltema, which closed at 4pm, so I had 30 minutes to look around. After decided against the bikes I just looked at what I could buy, and got tool envy. All my tools are in my sister's garage, or given to Geoff. One and the same - I think it's cheaper to buy new tools here than to get them here from the US. Though I'm allowed a one-shot no import tax when importing your living goods shipment, so perhaps that's something to think about.

I grew up a Sears hardware family. My grandfather had Craftsman tools, and my Dad, and I bought them too. Sears died away as the place to go, and I started going elsewhere for tools. I really like this place in Illinois called Black's hardware. I was looking for a router bit and they had a really nice selection. In Santa Fe the best place was Big Jo on Siler. The sort of place where you get that nice, warm, fuzzy help from someone knowledgeable.

Black's, as well Napa auto parts, has a special sort of feel. In some sense they are intimidating. There's a big table, with all the parts and tools and whatnot behind it on the shelves and you have to say "I want a 2 3/4 inch whatzit" as if you know what you're talking about. Whereas sometimes I am just browsing to think how cool it would be if I had a job where I could use all these beautiful tools. Who actually buys the 3" i.d. nuts you can find at these stores?

At the checkout line at Biltema was a set off poor quality box wrenches. They didn't have a good feel to them like Craftsman tools did. What set them off is they were anodized. Each size with its own color. I thought that was cool, but it doesn't fit well with my mental image of what a Serious Mechanic would use. Again, they didn't feel right, so I wouldn't have bought them.

While there are nice aspects to not having much stuff, I do miss the idea that if something breaks, I've got the right tools, or at least close enough, to fix it. Now I don't even have a screwdriver .. no, wait, I do have a small one .. now I don't even have a wrench. I could get one, but I've got no need for it, and I know I'll be moving again within a few months.

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