The Second Closest Bike Shop

I give a guy directions to the second closest bike shop. He rejected the barista’s directions to the closest shop — “No. I know about that one.” I see that he’s getting lost just thinking about my directions, so I start over, filling in landmarks and leaving out street names. He asks if the store fixes bikes. They do both — they sell and fix bikes. “Do they do unicycles?” “I don’t know.” He says “Thanks”, and I answer, “No problem,” but he doesn’t do anything. He stands in the same place and looks at me. He thanks me again, and I say, “Your welcome”. Then I notice that he’s holding up his fist for a “Hey, bro,”-style fist-tap. I make a fist and tap his knuckles and he walks off.

The barista says, “That guy looks familiar. I think I’ve seen him riding a really tall unicycle around.” “Yeah, he said something about a unicycle.” I give her the money for my tea and cookie. The Change is $1.75. She gives me the dollar and then holds her hand out over the tip jar. I reach out for the quarters, but she doesn’t hand them over. I figure that she’s gesturing toward the tip jar, since I usually put the lose change there. I nod, thinking, Sure, keep the change. But she keeps her hand in place and I realize that she’s waiting for a knuckle tap. I give her a tap and she hands over the quarters, “You still haven’t figured it out.”

August 2004 Printable Calendar

The relatively holiday free August printable calendar is here. Whether you use the letter size or the ISO A4 format pages is entirely your own business. I wash my hands of the whole affair. But if you want to arrange your schedule around the UK Bank Holidays, the A4 version will serve you best.

I wonder, do people from Berwick-upon-Tweed (at war with Russia since 1853 because of a clerical oversight) get both Scottish and English Bank Holidays off? That would be nice for them.

Letter size (53 kb pdf for USA & Canada)
A4 format (53 kb pdf for Berwick, etc.)

Stop Making Sense

The web form that I have to fill out to receive a complimentary magazine subscription calls for me to enter my name and my address. Then I get the opportunity to opt in for a couple of email newsletters and I’m asked for some demographic information. Then: “As an identifier please select eye color (this information is required by Macworld’s auditing company in lieu of a signature to prove your request of this free offer.)”

Grandview & My High School Reunion

On Saturday I drove out to Grandview for my high school reunion — escaping Seattle’s 100 degree heat for Eastern Washington’s 100 degree heat. It had been four or five years since I’d been back. My parents were out of town, but my brother Justin Justin was there, sort of pacing around. Babe, my parents’ dog has gone blind. She sniffs and snorts around like a warthog or a mole, venturing outside only as far as her supper dish, and the cat sometimes sneaks food from the dog’s dish.

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The left lane was coned off for construction and the right lane was blocked by construction vehicles. The digger up front finally pulled away. The utilities truck stayed put, though signaling right. I pulled around it tentatively, looked to the driver who seemed poised to pull forward at any moment. I looked to the flagger who signaled for me to move. He seemed irritated. I pulled into the intersection and turned right. The marquis of the Paramount Theater flashed in my peripheral vision for a moment — it said, in giant letters, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. I slowed as I was coming up to the steel plates in the next block. A police officer in a flourescent safety vest stood in the middle of the street and aggressively signaled for me to keep going, ignoring the pod of pedestrians crossing in front of me.


In summer, the setting sun hangs over the horizon for longer than in other seasons. People are gathered at the end of the pier to watch, they’re crowded two or three deep. The orange sun eventually sinks behind an Olympic.

A couple next to me are holding each other; and right at the moment that the last little fingernail clipping of sun disappears, the man let’s go of the woman and says, “That was it.” They turn back to the city and walk away from the sunset. Within a minute, half of the rest of the sunset’s audience have walked out too.


Four or five washings later, my shorts’ pockets are still dusted with fine white sand from a Florida beach.
I half-imagine that I can feel the sand and salt digging into my pores and scratching against my legs.

It feels the same as my shirt collar brushing against the day old bee sting on the back of my neck.


My older brother Chris had two friends named Robert. One was our next door neighbor. He made a go-cart with a lawn mower engine. He let me ride on the back of his motorbike as sort of a peace offering after he and Chris teased and tricked me.

The other Robert’s family lived at the corner next to the hop fields in a house that had a “Beware of the Dog” sign but no dog. I couldn’t handle knowing two people with the same name, so I changed the second Robert’s name to Ribbit.

Ribbit was trouble. He was banned from the Mini Mart for using slugs – counterfeit quarters – in the video games. Chris was banned by association. I don’t know if he scammed the machines too. But he wouldn’t have needed to, since he could keep a game of Pac-Man going for at least half an hour on just one quarter. He had all the high scores on the games at Hubby’s Pizza.

I saw Ribbit at the public swimming pool one time and said hello. His friends laughed at him, “Did that kid just call you ‘Ribbit’?” and I reverted back to calling him Robert after that.

Carolyn was Robert’s (not Ribbit’s) sister. She and my sister Karen were friends. For my birthday once, after Karen was in college and Carolyn was married, Karen took me to Portland so that I could go to a Star Trek convention and she could visit Carolyn. Carolyn confessed that she was a Star Trek fan too after they picked me up from the evening Patrick Stewart Q&A. She and Karen had spent the whole day together while I was at the convention, and she’d never mentioned it. When we got to her apartment, her husband was watching Star Trek and recording it for her.