I’m going off Saturday to help my friend David save Mt. Diablo. Actually, he’s enlisted a few other people in case we can’t do it by ourselves, it being, after all, a pretty good size mountain for the Coast Range.

But like so many things, this is not as simple as it might at first seem.

David brought me in because he felt that a useful mountain-saving tool would be a Segway. All our great leaders are visionaries, so David is not unique. Still, I would never have thought of using a Segway, which of course underscores my failure as a leader.

On the other hand, I follow well, so I eagerly came on board, only afterwards thinking of the consequences.

The Segway was beaten up pretty badly by Air France to and from Amsterdam, and, to be fair, I had also skinned it up while learning to avoid potholes, jump curbs, and keep from being doored….all the hard way. One of the fenders was cracked, both fenders were covered with scars, the kick stand was broken, and the mode change cap and charge port cover had been torn off.

Also, it was filthy, especially places where the Air France Securité stickers had been pretty much permanently plastered.

So I ordered replacement parts, which sat patiently in their wrappings while I tried to figure out the tools I needed. See, I didn’t really know what a T-15 Torx wrench was, and I didn’t know what the difference was between this and the other torque wrench I needed for the wheel nuts except that the T-15 needed to be capable of 1.5 Newton-meters while the other had to pinpoint 50 Newton-meters.

I also figured it might be useful to know what a Newton-meter is, sensing that it’s probably not the size of petard required to hoist Isaac Newton one meter.

I went online to Griot’s Garage, thinking I might figure something out by looking at T-15’s and other torque wrenches. I just got more confused. Clearly, this was going to require my going to some auto supply place and humiliating myself.

So, I put it off. Time passed. I tried to drag my friend Bob into this, and he was helpful. In fact, he bought a 16 mm. deep socket for me and lent me some other tools. His doing this somehow nerved me up, and so I went to the Kragen out in Westlake, knowing nobody would know me way out there and I’d never have to go there again. Besides there’s a 99 Ranch in Westlake, and I’d been wanting to shop one of those since I started reading about them last year.

Hey, it wasn’t all that bad, and I proudly brought home a regulation torque wrench. But then it fell out that my pride was premature. However, since even I am bored by the details of how many trips to how many places it took to get everything I needed, I’ll cut to the workshop area…the dining room floor.

Segway modification

Frankly, I was astonished at how easy the whole thing was, particularly since I had got so wound up over it, and I ended up having a good time blasting Dan Bern’s New American Language while I replaced both fenders and the kickstand, scrubbing the wheels in the kitchen sink while they were off.

This morning I wheeled the Segway out onto the front sidewalk and detailed that sucker with a toothbrush. Are we ready for our screen test or what?

And if it weren’t for David I’d still be running around on a filthy Segway with a cracked fender and a broken kickstand. Thanks, David.

OK, there have been inquiries.  My landlord saw this pic and immediately jumped to the conclusion that I had been, in effect, repairing a motorcycle on his third-hand, already soiled rug brought up from his basement.  Actually, there’s no dirt or grease inside a Segway since the motors for the wheels are factory-sealed units.  Furthermore, as evidence that I wasn’t, in any case, repairing the thing on his rug, a casual glance at the precise arrangement of the tools will reveal that the photo was staged.  Furthermore, I luckily didn’t frame the photo well enough because you can see at the bottom edge the newspapers that i had spread out against the contingency of any road dirt falling from the Segway and then moved before staging the photo.  And finally, that wood saw was not actually used. I just put it out in terrorem, to soften the Segway up.

And why not? Here’s what we’re trying to save.  This is a view from the area where we picnicked:

Save Mt. Diabolo

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