I saw an old Ford Escort parked on my block earlier. Its front license plate was sitting loose on the dashboard in front of the steering wheel. The number on the plate nearly matched the number on my replacement plates — the letters were the same and the numeric part was just 31 higher than mine. It seems likely that the plates were picked up sometime in the last couple of weeks from the same suburban Department of Licensing storefront where I picked up my replacement plates. (This DOL location didn’t seem to be state run, by the way. It appeared to be a private sub-licensed DOL. The name on the sign out front was something closer to “Bill’s Department of Licensing” than “State of Washington Department of Licensing”.)

When I saw the license plate in that car window this morning, I stopped and stared for a few seconds and thought about coincidence. Then I crossed in front of the Escort and into the street — the sidewalk was blocked ahead where a construction crew has been making an empty lot out of a couple of old houses — and I walked the rest of the way to my car and realized that I’d caught a glimpse of a pattern, not a coincidence.


My forensic investigation/car cleaning reveals the following about the strangers who were driving my car 250 miles between Saturday night — when they stole the car — and Monday night — when they were arrested for robbery and the car was impounded.

They accessed my car using a lock pick on a key chain. They ate at Jack in the Box and McDonalds and used the cup holders as ash trays. They bought drum sticks and Miller Genuine Draft beer at Safeway on Sunday at 6:00 pm. Some portion of their traveling was done at very high speeds. (Corrected in comments.) They filled the tank at least once and added at least one quart of motor oil to the engine. They emptied my CDs out of the CD changer and replaced them with their own, but they put the CDs in upside down, and listened to KUBE 93.3 FM instead.

The car is smelly, but probably fine. When accelerating from a stop, the engine makes a new puttering noise that makes me nervous. I’m hoping that will be it attributed to low oil, rather than some strain on the engine.

My new license plates say “TPS“. That’s one good thing.

Cause and Effect

Two things about National Public Radio:

  • This morning NPR reported that it wasn’t clear whether the cloud of smoke that was released from the Sistine Chapel after the second Papal vote of the day was white or black. A white cloud would indicate that a new Pope had been elected. A black cloud would indicate that the Cardinals hadn’t arrived at a consensus. Then the Sistine Chapel bells were rung and the new Pope was announced, and NPR started reporting that the cloud had been white. A Pope was elected and that meant that, regardless of what color it had been, the cloud was white.
  • NPR provides a live news roundup at the begining of every hour. At a certain point in this news feed, the news reader announces his or her name and leaves a short pause before continuing with the headlines. This allows a graceful transition for stations that air a few minutes of local coverage in place of the second part of the national feed. During the daytime hours, KUOW provides local headlines in place of the second segment of the national feed. In the late evening, they air the complete national feed. The news reader for many of the late evening reports is Shay Stevens. I find myself tensing up whenever the pause approaches in one of her broadcasts. I hold my breath as she says, “I’m Shay Stevens,” and I listen for the almost inaudible sound of her swallowing a gulp of water before I start breathing again and she continues with the next headline.


[Police Report]

When I went out this morning to get my car, I found a yellow pickup in the spot where I’d parked. It had been stolen. It felt like there should have been more to it, but I don’t what I would expect that “more” to be. I paced around the neighborhood looking for it for twenty minutes, though I was certain that I’d left my car in that spot.


Half past a busy weekend, I stop at Bauhaus to catch my breath.

Somebody’s homework is spread across the table next to mine. But no one has been around to work on it since I sat down.

On my other side, a guy is typing an outline on his laptop. He stops to take a call on his cell phone. He talks first about lawn mowers, then about bunnies.

At the windowside bar, someone brings two glasses of iced Kool-Aid Italian sodas to the windowside bar. As she sets them down, they briefly catch light from the setting sun and focus two bright flashes of red light in my eyes.

Friday at 5:30

It’s Friday. I just walked the two blocks to the post office to drop off the day’s packages and then walked half a block back to Vivace to relax and to try to do a little work. I open my laptop and it connects to the wireless network. I put together two emails, hit send, and get two error messages back: can’t connect to the mail server. I try loading a few different sites in a browser and can’t connect to anything. A neighbor is pecking away at a Google search result. He’s connected, so I poke around in my network settings. Airport status shows a yellow light: I’m connected, but I’m not connected. Reboot and nothing’s changed. At this point I could just work on something offline, but I can feel my brain going soft in my head and my drink isn’t caffeinated enough to get me recharged. I skim through help files, blindly change a couple of settings around, and reboot twice. In the end I’m online again. I’ve abandoned the thought of work. I load Bloglines and there’s nothing there for me to read. You can call that last one kharma.