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Back Buzz - February 26, 1999

Mott's Coffeehouse, 4615 Stone Way North, Wallingford, Seattle

Mott's is located in the same spot as Sorel's Cafe was years ago. The original Sorel's in Lower Queen Anne, in a spot now occupied by Caffé Ladro, was where I had my very first espresso as a resident of Seattle eight years ago, so I'm a bit nostalgic; sadly both Sorel's have gone out of business, but Mott's shows promise.

It's a tiny cafe with a drive-through window, a small wooden deck, one Internet terminal in the corner, some games off to the side, and simple round tables, each one adorned with a different day-by-day tear-off calendar. At my table was the "Life's Little Instruction Calendar Volume IV." The instruction for February 23 was as follows: "Never confuse your right to do something with the right thing to do." Oh, cool -- a woman is driving through the drive-up window right this minute and placing an order which is coming through the speaker, just like at Jack In The Box! Now, is she doing that because she has the right to do it or because it's the right thing to do? Perhaps it's because she can't find a parking space...

Mott's serves lunch and espresso drinks made with Caffé Vita beans. My double short cappuccino was served in an ordinary white mug, but it's a surprisingly good cappuccino! The shots are strong and have been tamped hard enough and the foam is adequate. No demitasse spoon was provided, though, so I had to get myself a plastic one. Hey, I can see myself in the mirror over the Internet terminal as I drink. Hmm, yes, a distinct expression of satisfaction...

The coffeehouse sits on a little wedge of land between Stone Way North, Stone Avenue North, and North 46th Street. From my Stone Way window I've got a great view of the 7-Eleven across the street, Lakeside Massage ("The Injury Clinic"), Bloss Chiropractice, and Bizarro Italian Restaurant. It's a lightly rainy day with plenty of wet-tire traffic sounds.

Say, doesn't Mott's make apple juice or something? Strangely enough I don't see any apple juice specifically on the menu, although they do list "juice." I probably should have asked if they have apple juice.

I just noticed if I were to stop back tomorrow and sit at the same table, my words of wisdom would be as follows: "When trying on new shoes, wear the thickness of socks you'll be wearing with the new shoes." Hmmm, is there a hidden meaning somewhere? Is this an allegory for life in general? Or is it simply a logical statement to be taken at face value?

Speaking of logic, following is an e-mail exchange with my Bay Area friend from a couple years ago about a logic problem which appeared in the newspaper:

This is an article, in its entirety, I found in the Seattle Times last night:

Ft Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel:

Here are the findings of the Eat Dinner Together Survey conducted by Bruskin-Goldring Research. It questioned 1000 men and women and was sponsored by the National Pork Producers Council.

Now, doesn't it seem like that dinner table would be a bit crowded?

According to CIA estimates, as of July 1995 there were 263,814,032 Americans (I think this includes illegal immigrants), with a migration rate of 3.38 per thousand people per year and an infant mortality rate of 7.78 per thousand.

Then if we assume that the people who eat dinner together five or more nights per week do so on nights that are not uniformly distributed over the range of seven nights, and if we exclude (or seat in a separate room) those people who have no time to prepare meals, have children under 6, or watch television, and those who have no interest from family members, have teens aged 12 to 17, and listen to music, then how long a rectangular table will we need to seat the rest tonight, allowing ample elbow room for those who eat left-handed to sit next to those who are right-handed?

...and another logic problem, this one having to do with parking signs (and, surprisingly enough, buying shoes):

I'd like to pick up an old TV remote control somewhere -- or perhaps a garage door opener. I want to follow one of the tips from a joke-toid you forwarded last month:

"Fool other drivers into thinking you have an expensive car phone by holding an old TV or video remote control up to your ear and occasionally swerving across the road and mounting the curb."

On Saturday I wished I had followed another tip of leaving the windshield wipers on high while I parked. When Maryl and I stopped at Long's Drugs in Oakland to replenish some first aid supplies for my recent bicycle injury, a gainfully self-employed black man said he would clean my windows for fifty cents. After reflexively dismissing the idea, I reconsidered, what the hell, gave him my two quarters and went on into the store. Half an hour later, after we also went to a deli and the Piedmont Market for picnic foods, I suddenly remembered: damn! I should have put those quarters in the parking meter! It's getting harder to remember when to feed the meters -- not just because my memory is going, but because in Berkeley the majority of the parking meters were decapitated by the coordinated action of some citizens vandals. Actually, a craniotomy is more like it -- the poles are topped by open skulls, into which people now deposit litter. Some even have potting soil and flowers. Parking is free for two hours nearly everywhere in Berkeley. My paranoia about parking meters withered away, and Saturday in Oakland, where the parking gestapo still reign, I forgot entirely until it was too late. There on my windshield (a very clean windshield, I might add) was a fluorescent green envelope with the words "Parking Ticket".

Fuck. Fifty-three dollars! No, it's a mere $25 if paid within 21 days. And they recorded my license plate correctly, so I can ignore it. Just another in a long line of incidental expenses loosely related to my injury. I'll pay it quickly. But I think I'll save the pretty envelope. It could come in handy. I'll put it on my windshield every time I park. Maybe it will save me from another parking ticket some day if a meter expires a few minutes before I get back to the car. (Or might it warrant a more serious violation for "Falsifying a parking violation"?) At the least it might scare other drivers, seeing a legally parked vehicle with a ticket. Or, best of all, when I see some asshole parked in two spaces or blocking access to something, I'll leave it on his windshield.

I remember the parking ticket we received a couple years ago. It was a Sunday afternoon and traffic was terrible. We made our way slowly up to the Roosevelt district and parked across the street from Red Wing Shoes. We both got out and studied the parking sign -- it looked like we could park between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

So we went into the shoe store where Max immediately bought himself a new pair of Rockports for something like $90. We had a $10 coupon with us, so it cost us only $80.

But when we got back to our car a mere ten minutes later there was a $20 parking ticket on the windshield. Apparently both of us had used the wrong logic reading the sign: parking was allowed before 10:00 AM and after 4:00 PM -- or perhaps it said it wasn't allowed after 10:00 AM and/or before 4:00 PM. It was an interesting -- and expensive -- problem in logic.

Anyway, by driving up to Red Wing Shoes we ended up paying an extra $10 for those Rockports.

These two experiences remind me of a story I just received from my friend Soezjomama:


A man walked into a Circle-K, put a $20 bill on the counter and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer? Fifteen dollars. [If someone points a gun at you and gives you money, was a crime committed?]