Dear Uptight Seattleite, Someone is coming toward me on the same side of the sidewalk as me. Who gives way to whom?South-Going Zax
Dear Zax, Hang on, I've the chart for this here somewhere. Ah, here it is. OK, first you have to find yourself on the categories listed along the x axis. These categories include: single person; single person with a dog on his right; single person with a dog on his left; and couple walking with a dog on their left and contentedly purring with conversation that lingers mockingly in the ears of all those single people. Now find the person or persons coming toward you on this same list of categories along the y axis. Who should yield is revealed on the chart where your x meets their y. If both parties are in the same category, the chart will tell you to "Get zany." That means you should both try to get out of each other's way at the same time, then start comically weaving from one side of the sidewalk to the other. Waddle like penguins. Screw your faces up in mock consternation. If you're in a couple, break out the hand-jive routine you've prepared for this occasion. What happens next? That's up to you. You can lead a reader to a moment of disarming silliness, but you can't make him avoid a collision. Dear Uptight Seattleite, Can I jaywalk in front of a firefighter?Skittish Sid
Dear Sid, Yes. A firefighter doesn't care if you jaywalk. Dear Uptight Seattleite, I thought learning the violin would be easy, but it's really hard!Stiff Wrist Stu
Dear Stanley, Learning is a journey, not a destination. Did I just make that up or did I read it somewhere? I'm not sure. Does it matter? No. Ha! Free-floating wisdom. Dear Uptight Seattleite, At what point should one refill the ice-cube tray? My roommate has a theory that you can't add water after only taking a cube or two because you might break fragile, newly-forming ice cubes if you need to dip into your supply soon thereafter. He says it's too chaotic to have ice at different stages of freezing, and that the entire tray must simul-freeze. (He actually uses the word "simul-freeze.") I think he's just being lazy. What do you think?Ice E Relations
Dear Ice E, Are you old enough to remember those old metal ice trays? When you pulled the lever, the cubes were supposed to crisply separate, but what usually happened was a minute of grunting followed by an explosion of ice shards all over the kitchen floor. It's no wonder it always ended badly, though. There was always something distastefully aggressive in that whole lever-pulling system. A retrograde whiff of the military-industrial complex from some decade when "men were men" and a tin plant somewhere in Illinois stamped those things out by the millions. Despite the welcome feminizing influence of Tupperware in the 1970s, household ice remains mired in vexing problems of chemistry and human relations. Like the case of your non-ice-tray-refilling roommate, Ice E. I can relate to the problem even though I live alone, because I consider my past and future selves to be my roommates. "Hey, guys," I say to the three of us, "if we all cooperate and remember to keep the tray full, we'll all have equal access to ice." That's not actually true for my past self. He won't get any more ice. It's always mind-broadening to consider the opposing view, however. So let's ponder your roommate's point about not disturbing a cube while it's still just an icy membrane above chilly but still-sloshing water. Ready, set...ponder! Now, he does seem initially to have a good argument, and yet the difficulty he raises is washed away by the flood of blessings that result when you stop worrying and let the universe do its thing. Because short of spilling the water, nothing you do will disturb the freezing process. The cube whose molecules are currently boogying around at room temperature will slowly settle into a silent crystalline harmony. This is true if you gently twist the tray to extract his solid brethren or not. Half frozen, simul-frozen, or somewhere in between, the state of your tray should cause no fear. Surrender to the flow of ice-taking and ice-making with an abundance mentality. Harmony will soon return to your apartment. The sound of ice tinkling in your holiday cocktail is the only thanks I need. Cheers! Have a question for the Uptight Seattleite? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.