1. You seize the more near book.
  2. You open the book in page 23.
  3. It finds the fifth proposal.
  4. You post the text of proposal in your magazine with these directives.

PHP for the World Wide Web: “Even if escaping one introductive does print introductive, that escapes “n”? it prints a new line, that escapes “r”? it creates a return of transports, and escape “t”? it interferes your etjke’tta in code.”

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The Bald Man

[sticker-covered newspaper box]

In this week’s Stranger, Amy Jenniges briefly ponders a recent spate of “The Bald Man is watching you” tags in Ballard. Jenniges (aka Mrs. Dan Savage) concludes, “The only hint we do have: Ballard is Middle English for ‘bald head.'” Interesting.

The Bald Man has been all over Seattle’s lamp posts, dumpsters, and newspaper boxes for months. (At least since September according to Samantha.) He’s watching you, me, the Stranger, and the rest of Seattle. Mostly though, I suspect, he’s keeping his eye on Sars the Chicken.

[dull black newspaper boxes]

A number of these solid black padlocked newspaper boxes are scattered around on Capitol Hill. Perhaps they’re the only source for some dark underworld newspaper — unlocked for one hour a month, at midnight on the full moon.

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Is Not Chicago

I was 19 when I flew for the first time – July 31, 1995. It was out of Seattle, with a connecting flight through Chicago. It doesn’t matter where I was going because in the end I wouldn’t really get there. I would be riding a Metro bus back to downtown Seattle before the following day was over. The plane landed at O’Hare and the pilot said there would be a delay before we’d be able to exit. Then he drove the jetliner around the airport. I’m not sure if we did a complete circuit of the airport – it seemed like it. We wheeled around a few terminals, crossed an overpass over a freeway, and then crossed back the other way. Finally we pulled up next to a terminal and stopped. The pilot got on the intercom and explained that he’d been stalling all this time. There was a crew working on our gate’s skybridge, but it wouldn’t unfold, and they finally decided that we’d exit the plane onto the tarmac and walk over to the terminal. The rear exit was opened and passengers filed out onto a staircase that had been wheeled up alongside the plane. I followed the line out, stepped onto the little platform, and recoiled with a gasp. I was choking on dry air. Chicago was having record high temperatures – it had been all over the news. People were dying from heatstroke. Somehow my flight to Chicago and the news of the exhausting record heat had not connected in my head. I walked fifty yards through the searing heat to the terminal’s entrance, and then into a cavernous chilly air conditioned airport.

August 1, 1995 found me standing somewhere in the middle of the same airport, lonely and disappointed. I had to re-check my luggage – a clunky external-frame backpack – and then find the gate for my flight back to Seattle. An American Airlines clerk gave me a boarding pass and tagged my bag. She pointed me to the conveyor belt where I needed to drop the bag. I walked slowly over and an idea flickered through my head. I could walk past the conveyor belt, follow the picture signs to ground transportation, and take whatever transit there was into the city. I’d find an apartment and a job, and I’d live there in Chicago, just because my bad luck had landed me there. I knew nothing about Chicago except that there was a river and a bunch of bridges. I had never even thought of living there until that moment. It was just the kind of thing I could picture myself doing. (I dropped my bag onto the conveyor belt.) It would great. It would be an adventure. I wandered over to my terminal and bought a slice of pizza. Hey, I know something about Chicago – Pizza! In the course of my musings, I hadn’t thought once about the only thing I did know about Chicago — that, at that moment, it was probably very hot.

I flew for the fourth time on August 1, 1995. We descended into Sea-Tac and I watched the sun set from above, and then from inside, the clouds. It was dark outside when I got to luggage return. My backpack slid down onto the luggage carousel without its aluminum frame. The frame came along a few minutes later. I sat on a bench and reassembled the pack. When I had it all together, I followed the airport signs to the Metro bus stop outside.

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A cashier whispers silent calculations to herself as she counts change into her cash drawer. She looks straight ahead, at a point past my right shoulder. She finishes counting and focuses on me. Her eyes are the same color as her dress.

She’s enthusiastic about everything I say to her. I give all the right answers. I say, “I’ll have English Breakfast tea,” and she says that’s “perfect”. The chocolate chip cookie with apricot pieces is “awesome”. She’s happy that everything is working out so well.

To her coworker, she says, “Is that the water for his tea?”

“Uh huh.”


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Getting to Discovery Park

One time, five or six years ago, Scott and I headed out to Discovery Park on his motorcycle. We were rolling down the hill into Ballard when we realized that neither of us knew where the park was. There was a group of people milling around on a lawn up ahead, so we pulled over near them. It was a group of teenagers packing up a church yard sale. A few of them wandered over.

Scott yelled out to them over the engine sound, “Do you know how to get to Discovery Park?”

“Wow. You’re way off,” one of them laughed. He stepped up alongside us and started describing how to get there. The others stood a few paces back, looked at us curiously, and whispered between themselves.

We worked out where the park was – we were on the wrong side of Lake Union – and were about to leave, when two of the kids who’d been looking at us earlier stepped up to the motorcycle and slipped a windscreen into a slot in front of the handlebars. It was from their unsold inventory and it fit perfectly.

We thanked them and Scott started to maneuver into a U-turn. The guy who’d given us the directions called out, “So where are you from?”

I laughed and called out the name of our Seattle neighborhood, “Capitol Hill!”

His dry response: “Well no wonder you got lost.”

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Crime Doesn’t Pay

After an afternoon spent shuffling through tax papers, leaving forms behind at copy shops, and getting stuck in traffic. I decided to unwindwith a cup of tea at Bauhaus. It’s such a nice day.

Just as I walked inside, there was a quick motion in my peripheral vision. A woman shouted, “Get him! He took my purse!” I hesitated. A couple of guys dodged out the door and into traffic. My brain had to actually process the word “chase” before I could run after them. I followed them up Melrose and then right – behind The Chapel bar. I ran up the alley and saw, twenty feet ahead of me, a barista pull the thief down. (How did he get around the counter so fast?) Another guy grabbed hold and the thief stopped struggling. They sat on him calmly. I stood back catching my breath and shaking from adreneline and nerves. I eventually realized it would be a good idea to call the police. I answered the dispatchers questions, pacing back and forth between the alley and the street, looking for the address and then the purse snatchers description. The victim walked up and someone handed her the purse. She stood off to the side, holding the purse close. The police pulled up. They looked everyone over, and one of them asked the victim if she was a friend of the thief. The purse snatcher and captors untangled themselves. The thief stood up, and I realized that his haircut and clothes didn’t match my description of him. His shaved head was bleached blonde locks. His jeans were sweatpants. His t-shirt was long-sleeved. I walked back to Bauhaus, accepted a free cup of tea, which clattered in its saucer as I carried it to my table.

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