I opened a CD case and found an extra CD doubled up with the CD that was meant to be there. It was a regular commercially manufactured music CD, but it had no title printed on the disc. I didn’t recognize the music. So with the help of CDDB I could identified the disc. Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – a band that I’ve never heard of.

There’s a label on the underside of my computer monitor; I can see it reflected in the CD, which is now shiny side-up on my desk. I reach under the monitor and tear the sticker off. I read the words printed across it: “Warranty void if seal broken.” Oops.

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How Deep the Water Is

There are some days where your canoe is capsized by a wave coming up from the wake of a giant powerboat, figuratively speaking. You’re dunked underwater and you manage to get the boat turned back over. You retrieve the paddles and what suddenly seems like an excessive amount of cargo for a brief spin in a rented boat. Metaphorically, some kind soul in a boat who’s crew has managed to remain above water will take the waterlogged valuables that you and your shipmate are holding over your head to shore for you while you try to tow the boat to shore. You’ll try to tug the boat toward shore, working your legs against the waves but not gaining any ground; and then your figurative shipmate will point out that the water is shallow enough for you to walk to shore.

There are other days where your rented canoe capsizes quite literally. I’ve calculated how long ago I earned the Canoeing Merit Badge from the Boy Scouts – I’ve had more birthdays since being awarded that badge than I had before I received it. I think my credentials have expired.

The University of Washington’s Waterfront Activities Center near Husky Stadium rents out canoes for $7.50 an hour. You can paddle out beneath little footbridges and freeway on-ramps. We saw sunbathing turtles, herons, and the usual ducks. Make sure you steer into the wakes of large boats so that they hit you at the bow and not the side.

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In the course of cleaning my apartment I dug up:

  • $1.54 in coins taped to the back of a postcard
    Fiona sent me the change that was left at the end of her 1997 U.S. trip. The words “emergency cheering up kit” are written on the back. If I remember correctly, Fiona advised me to buy candy bars with the money.

  • $15 Canadian
    This is money left from the trip to Vancouver that Justin and I went on a couple of years ago.

  • Assorted coins in discontinued European currencies and a British £1 coin.
    On my backpacking trip a few years ago, I kept all the leftover currency in a Zip-Lok bag tucked away in my backpack. At the end of the trip I had about $50 in paper currency. I couldn’t find any place that offered realistic exchange rates and ended up getting only $35 from Thomas Cook.

  • A Royal Bank of Scotland £1 note
    It was change from a chain bookstore in Edinburgh I think. Taped to my refrigerator.

  • 41 Czech Korunas in coins
    In Prague someone gave me a handful of 10 heller and 20 heller coins as change – worth less than one cent each. She looked apologetic and said that it was all she had. When I tried to use them elsewhere, no one would accept them as payment.

  • Resting inside the hubcap from a Volkswagen: 130 pennies, a half-inch shred from the lower left-hand corner of a $1 bill, and the revolver from the board game Clue.
    The hubcap was left behind by Cory, my old roommate Joe’s old roommate, (or by one of Cory’s friends). The pennies just accumulated there as pennies do. Of the dollar bill fragment and the game piece, my memory is foggy at best. I couldn’t say with any confidence whether the two are related.
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Dwindling Returns

This morning – yesterday morning – I ate the handful of jelly beans that I had left, even though I was suffering a slight jelly bean binge induced hangover.

As spring progresses there will be fewer and fewer opportunities to describe the leaves on a tree as being just painted on.

A burnt-out floodlight has left the Space Needle with a gap-toothed smile.

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I notice the group at the table right outside the window – a girl with long tight curls chatting with two guys. I get back into my book for awhile. When I look up again, the guys are there and the girl is gone. But I see her immediately. She’s trudging up the gravel hill at the far end of the little empty parking lot across the street. Behind her there’s the fence enclosing the freeway down at the bottom of a weedy hill (and there’s a postcard view of the Space Needle). She walks through the parking lot, carrying nothing, walking directly toward her friends. She veers left at the corner to cross the street, then turns again to rejoin her friends outside the coffee shop. She stands out there for a moment, then produces a digital camera from somewhere – brand new, a label advertising the camera’s features is still attached to the front. As soon as she’s snapped separate photos of her two friends, everyone gets up and walks briskly away.

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Orange You Glad?

Based on the forensic evidence I was able to determine that the WHACK! Thump. Sproinng! (thump.) (thump.) Clatter! that woke me up early this morning was caused by an orange falling from a shelf in the kitchen, hitting a spoon on the counter and launching it into the air, and rolling to a stop in the sink. Whether that chain of events was more comical than the way I clambered out of bed and wrestled a pair of pants on before going out to confront an unknown intruder depends on your perspective, I suppose. I ate the orange in the end.

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What Infinity Looks Like

My nephews are in their car seats in the back. Matthew asks Daniel a rather lofty sounding question. “Daniel, Do you know what infinity looks like?”

Daniel answers, “No.”

“Infinity is an eight squashed on its side.”

A minute later Daniel calls out to Rachel in the driver’s seat, “Mom?”

Rachel looks up at the rear view mirror, “Yes, Daniel?”

Daniel repeats Matthew’s question, “Do you know what infinity looks like?”

“What does it look like?”

Daniel starts, “Infinity is . . .”

Chris, the oldest, pipes in, “It’s an eight squashed on its side!”

Daniel isn’t bothered by the interruption. He just seems to have wanted to make sure that his mother knew.

Matthew got a ring from the vending machine at Azteca. He wears it constantly in spite of how it turns his finger green, or more likely because of how it turns his finger green.

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I checked the time as I was getting onto the bus, walking up the steps of one of the rear entrances. I tried to check the time – I made the usual arm flick to free the watch from my sleeve and I felt the weight of my watch suddenly disappear. I felt around in my jacket sleeve and looked down at the aisle. I retraced my steps to the door. The steps were clear and I didn’t catch a glimpse of anything that might be my watch on the dark sidewalk behind the closing doors. The bus pulled away and I sat down in the seat just across from the doors. Before I could decide between heading back to the last bus stop to make a more thorough search and figuratively throwing up my hands, I saw my watch resting on the floor by my feet. I guess my wrist flick had pitched it clear across the width of the bus. I inspected it. One end of the wristband had freed itself from the watchface. The pin that held it in place was gone. I noted the time and put the watch away in my pocket.

[I’m reminded of an encounter at a hostel in the UK a few years ago. I said hello to a guy who’d just walked into the dormitory-style room – he was a Welsh/Italian teenager. He started to respond, but was distracted because his watch chose that moment to fly off his wrist and smashed itself against the floor. I helped him find all the pieces and gave him a Zip-Loc bag to keep them in. My greeting and his watch-breaking seemed linked; I feel sure that if I’d said hello at any other moment, his watch would have stayed intact on his wrist.]

I went to Rite-Aid this afternoon to look at watchbands. The band for my $30 watch was expensive enough that I decided to take a quick look at new watches. They were on sale at 40% off. The price was right, so I switched my attention to buying a watch.

The things I appreciate in a watch are:

  1. It should have a face clock. It shouldn’t be a digital watch.
  2. It shouldn’t have a metal band. Metal bands will catch on your arm hairs and pull them out. (I’ve never had a watch with a metal band, but somehow I know that this is true.)
  3. There should be a little window in the watchface with the day of the month showing through.

There were four watches that met these standards. One was the same model as my broken watch; I eliminated it first. I liked the nice crisp sans-serif numbers on another model, but decided against it. To the left of the day of the month window, there was a window that showed the day of the week, and for some reason I wasn’t comfortable with that. Of the remaining two watches, I chose the one that looked the least like my old watch. The design is clunky. The rim around the watch crystal is plastic instead of metal. The date showing through the little window is white on black – it’s barely readable.

I wear a clunky watch, which is fine, and I have broken watch in a drawer somewhere. That’s the state of things.

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