Dear Uptight Seattleite,The snow + Seattle drivers = Arghhhh!Twin Cities Tina
Dear Tina,It was quite the party, that week leading up to Christmas when the city became a wintery theme park. I guess that's why I'm somewhat puzzled by your complaint—it seemed to me that people mostly left their cars at home as neighborhoods became happy enclaves of strollers, sledders, and skiers. (And here's to all the hardworking people at the local bars, cafes, and restaurants that managed to stay open through it all: Thanks!)Now that you mention it, though, I guess there were some Midwest natives who seemed to take a certain odd pleasure in the messy roads. "You call this snow?" they would exclaim, slapping their knees. "Oh ho ha—back home we get eight-foot drifts and can still skin a raccoon at 30 paces!" I know the teasing is all in good fun. And I tend to be on the transcendent side when it comes to taking offense at that kind of thing. Still, the first of my three New Year's hopes for you, Tina, is that you not partake in this attitude. It will ultimately only burden you with negativity. My second hope is that you will catch the new pro-science spirit Obama is bringing back with his appointments. Goodbye industry hacks, hello Nobel Prize winners!The connection here is that Seattle's wintertime driving woes are a simple matter of physics. Of physics. Oops, sorry about the echo; it must be all the hills around here, the ones whose snowy surfaces have such a low coefficient of friction that a driver's skill level becomes irrelevant—unlike the flat expanse of a prairie, for example. Please note that I'm making observations here, not issuing accusations. Because my final hope, Tina, is that you'll take a cue from my objective tone and accept this observation in the great collegial tradition of science itself.Dear Uptight Seattleite,I'm trying to get started as a criminal, but am finding it hard to get respect from the street. Do you have any suggestions?Boo Boo Face
Dear Boo Boo Face,OK, it's true: I got two of the Leatherman multi-tools that the vendor gave out at work, even though it was clear that everyone was supposed to get only one. They had logos emblazoned on the side, but were otherwise identical to the model that sells in stores for $59.99. I really need two, though: One's for my gear bag and one's for around the house. I used the one in the house just the other day to open my toaster so I could get the crumbs out. Some of the crumbs were brown. Not the brown of dried-up bread—more like dark rye. Which is weird because I don't recall buying any dark rye in the last year or so. Anyway, yes, I ended up with two Leathermans.Apparently you've somehow become aware of this incident and concluded I'm some kind of expert on crime. But my innocence is obvious when you consider the central fact of this case, which is that I never actively tried to get a second one of those pocket-sized multi-tools with the stainless-steel casing and anodized aluminum handle scales. I got one at the meeting, and then another one just showed up in my mailbox.Despite my lack of expertise, I do have a couple of suggestions for you. First of all, Boo Boo Face is a terrible nickname. Change it to Big Boo. Don't make a big deal about the change, either. Simply tell people "It's Big Boo," in a manner that implies it's always been Big Boo and they must be pretty out of the loop if they didn't know that.Second, find out where all the other criminals eat lunch. Then prepay for 20 meals at this place and throw in a hefty tip. Then whenever you come in, everyone will see the server wordlessly bring out a tray of steaming pho and iced tea without ever showing you a menu or a bill. Eat while staring into space and mumbling ominously to your Bluetooth earpiece. Leave without looking at anyone. If you have a guest, cut them off when they reach for their wallet with the words, "It's Big Boo. It's good." Otherwise, speak as little as possible. Communicate through a repertoire of skeptical looks. When you do speak, speak low, so people have to lean forward to catch your words.You'll soon find yourself with a reputation for mysterious power. The rest—actually committing successful crimes—is up to you. But I think you can do it. As Kurt Vonnegut said, we become what we pretend to be.Have a question for the Uptight Seattleite? Send it to email@example.com.