Saturday, January 23, 2016

My Luminous Millennial.

"If I had a superpower, it would be to be able to fill things whenever I want. Like, to fill people's refrigerators or water tanks or bank accounts or whatever. Just fill things."

In 2000, William Strauss and Neil Howe released the first book devoted to this generation, titled Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation. Defined as anyone born between 1982 and 2004, it's something I never realized I had in common with my fifteen-year-old daughter—we're both tail-enders, she being born in 2000 and I with about a minute to go in the fourth quarter of the Baby Boom.

According to Wikipedia, academic opinions vary on the Millennial mindset—anywhere from civic minded and tolerant to narcissistic and entitled (Just between you and me, that's a check-check-check-check for my kid, plus a few more).

She and I talk about lots of things, but always in small, concentrated blocks, and usually sandwiched around dinner. The remainder of her time she spends either in her room or with friends. In a few short months she'll have her driver's license and be ever scarcer around these digs.

Over the years, I've enjoyed interviewing people, especially my kids. Inevitably, a nugget will surface that I hadn't anticipated, a view of the world I hadn't known or appreciated. Well, it's been a while, six years in fact. since I got her feedback down in pixels, so I thought I'd check back in.

I sat down with my daughter on a recent Wednesday evening, following a nearly-satisfying dinner of Costco Asian chicken salad and a zealous negotiation culminating in the eight-dollar interview fee. Clad in her post-shower garb of t-shirt, sweats and fuzzy socks, she reclined on the couch two cushions down as I opened my notebook.

How do you feel when you hear an adult say something like, "Oh, she's just a teenager. You know how they can be. Their brains are completely offline, raging with hormones and they're incapable of perceiving consequences?

Honestly? It pisses me off. It's totally degrading to us, calling what we say and think invalid.

Interesting. What about the consequences part? 

Adults like to put kids into stereotypes: these kids go here, those kids go there. I'm not this person or that person.

Knowing what you do now, what advice would your almost-sixteen-year-old self have for the nine-year-old I talked to six years ago?

Oh, Geez. Um, even though you don't have any friends now, you're going to have friends who are really cool. Everything turns out a lot better for you. And... try to like your sister more.

That makes me sad.

You can't do that. You're supposed to be the interviewer.

Right. So I have to ask—is dating something you're interested in right now?

Not really. I don't want to talk about this stuff. I don't want this stuff on your blog.

Fair enough. How do you visualize yourself as an adult? In other words, at what age do you imagine your established adult self? In your 20s? 30s?

I picture myself around 30. I've got a really good job and I'm hella rich. I've probably been married for five years already and have one kid. I'll have another one later.

What's this job you've got that makes you hella rich?

No idea. I'd really like something to do with marketing. I'm good at pretending to have confidence when I really don't. I guess I'm really good at bullshitting.

Yes, it is a very special skill. Good luck with that. Okay, so just to get a better idea about your attitudes, we're going to play a game called "You can only have one." First off, you can only have one: Eating lunch in the school cafeteria every day for six months with just your parents, or not talking to your friends for six months?

Really? Oh. .. I'm going to go with sitting with my parents. Oh, my God, I can't believe I said that. But losing all my friends for six months? I can't even imagine... oh, that would be so bad. Yes, parents.

Hey, thanks!

Um, I don't think you should feel good about that.

Okay, one more. You can either give up bread forever or lose all your friends and have to start from scratch.

I guess it has to be bread. I do love bread though... that's okay. There's a lot of people out there who are gluten free.

Who do you like for president?

I'm feeling the Bern. He stands for everything I like.


Pretty much.

What about Hillary?

I think she has made several mistakes. I saw something on Twitter from the 60s or 70s and she said some racist and anti-gay stuff. I don't know if it's true, but I do trust Twitter.

Are you serious? You trust Twitter?


How do you feel about Mr. Trump?

Oh, my God. I don't want to waste the energy I have on him. He's the exact definition of a joke.

Along those lines, what qualities do you admire in a person?

Let's see... honesty, loyalty and... having a good sense of humor. Yes, all three.

Do you see those traits in yourself?

Yes, I do.

Okay, last question: who's your favorite guy over 50?

I guess... my dad?


You weirdo.

And with that, she stood and dropped the pillow onto the cushion and walked away, "I'm going to go chill and watch some Gossip Girl.  Oh, and don't forget," she yelled just as her bedroom door closed behind her, "you owe me eight dollars."

Hey, no problem. She won't let me forget.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Chances Aren't.

Oh my God, that was ridiculous. And that poor kicker—hooking a point-blank 27-yarder wide left to vaporize a cocksure Viking triumph. Holy Hell. In one hurried thud, Blair Walsh scrawled his name into the annals of pigskin calamity, alongside other greats like Trey JunkinErnest Byner and Tony Romo. In the shank of an eye, Pete Carroll cemented the chance to slap his chinos and chomp his gum for another sixty minutes plus three hours of Chevy commercials.

Granted, placekickers know what they’ve signed on to do. While their teammates repeatedly launch their beefcake into each other, inciting unthinkable peril to body and brain, the kicker… well… kicks. He lopes onto the field, works for two seconds, then trots back off, his chin jutting in exultation or sagging in dejection; no gray area exists for those who boot the rock.

But still, we’re talking about an 81-foot field goal. Missing one is as unlikely as a child vacuuming well. It's as crazy as a goose in a ball pit (Did you picture that goose? Crazy!). 

According to, heading into Sunday’s game, kickers had made 188 of 190 kicks, or 98.9% of field goals this season inside thirty yards. That translates to a single turkey every 100 kicks. On the surface, you’d think that 1 in 100 borders on the impossible. And I suppose it does—until it happens. 

Like you, me and anyone else who’s ever roamed the planet, we’ve all defied such minuscule odds that a one-percent probability of success seems just shy of a sure freaking thing.

Think about it. Without getting too specific, what do you imagine your chances were of being the "swimmer who won the medal round"? I’ll tell you, it's around one in 300 million. I don’t see Michael Phelps beating a field that large, but by golly, y’all sure did, and without the seven-foot wing span. All you had was a cute little tail that shimmied its way to paydirt.

But if you really want to enter the Land of Blown Minds, let’s look at the endless combination of events that had to transpire to enable your existence. For example, if If it weren’t for Kohar of Kardashian and her unique ability to market nonexistent talent in her 13th century village of Bellairhkadzor, Armenia, she and her five daughters would surely have starved and wiped out an entire branch of the family tree.

Just to fathom a world without them… can’t… won’t.

Anyway, you see what I’m saying? We’ve  defied some fairly husky odds to even compete in the sperm sweepstakes. Factor into that the smattering of close calls and near-catastrophes we’ve encountered during the course of our lives, and all told, each of us is a singular link in our lengthy and fortunate legacies. Kind of makes that kicker’s miss seem a little more probable, eh?

Just kidding. What a choke.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2015: A Little Skin in the Game.

"Is that potato...or finger?" My wife poked through the blood-spackled chunks of Yukon Gold potatoes, brushing them into a ring and isolating the little morsel of pinkish meat.

I held my arm aloft, squeezing the paper towels so hard my bicep went to sleep. My stomach lurched at the sight of the kitchen knife she gripped, the same instrument that seconds before had pruned the tip of my left pinkie.

"That's finger," I said, tiny waves of nausea rippling through my entrails.

It was Christmas Day, which signifies the one meal of the year that my family indulges in a recipe originally found in Oprah magazine. The kids call it "Oprahtatoes," a heart-stopping mashup of gold spuds, butter, half-n-half and cream cheese, topped with cheddar and chives.

Seriously, if any food is worth spilling blood over, it's Oprahtatoes, but this bleeding wasn't stopping. Desperately desiring not to spend Christmas evening in the ER, I watched as my wife tightly wrapped the finger in Band-Aids, attacking from all angles.

To avoid boring you with a step-by-step account of the ensuing 36 hours, I'll just say that there's an urgent care doctor working at a facility in a strip mall in Vancouver, Washington, who knows fingers like the back of his hand. The dressing he crafted rolled on like Grey Poupon to a Little Smokie, and I won't even delve into my awesome pinkie hammock.

So yeah, anyway, that's pretty much how my 2015, shall we say, wrapped up. How was yours? Be honest, how much do you actually recall about what happened last year? I'm only asking because until I looked it up, basically all I remembered was watching the Seahawks blow the Super Bowl and reading memes about dogs and Obama.

But I also knew that A.D. Twenty-fifteen witnessed its share of extraordinary happenings—some good, some bad, some... well... meh. I found a great source to refresh my memory, a website called, which chronologically registered the year's major world-wide goings-on. And just to get a feel for the type of year it was, I'm going to randomly pick a few events and we'll see how things stack up overall. Let's dive in!

On March 26, King Richard III (1452-1485), whose remains were discovered beneath a parking lot, is exhumed then interred at England's Leicester Cathedral.

Conclusion: Bad. I'm from Seattle. Reverse composting is a gross misdemeanor.

On April 14, the world's oldest stone tools, dating back 3.3 million years, are found in Kenya.

Conclusion: Good. This proves that I'm not the only guy too lazy to get the hammer. Sometimes a big rock works fine.

On April 23, Loretta Lynch is confirmed as the first female African-American Attorney General of the United States.

Conclusion: Good, especially if you're Donald Trump ("I don't care who she is. It's goddamn amazing for anyone to be both an attorney and a general.").

On May 11, India's population officially reaches one billion.

Conclusion: Meh, it was a misunderstanding. Trump thought they said Indiana ("My people tell me Indiana has a billion illegals. Trust me, I will round these people up. What's that? It's actually India? Shut up, punk! Get him out of here.").

On June 17, the United States Treasury announces that the Alexander Hamilton ten-dollar bill will be replaced by a woman.

Conclusion: Meh, another misunderstanding. Trump was stoked because he thought they meant a real woman.

On July 20, The Impact Team announces they have hacked into the client list of Ashley Madison, the marital cheating website.

Conclusion: Good, except stock for Motel 6 and the makers of Febreeze for Car Upholstery tanked.

On August 21, the oldest known message in a bottle is retrieved on a German beach after 108 years adrift.

Conclusion: Bad. It was a list of Germany's top ten baby names, with Adolph coming in at a solid number three behind Axel and Gerd.

On December 7, Time readers voted Bernie Sanders Person of the Year.
Conclusion: Very, very good.

Wow, so it wasn't such a rotten 2015 after all. Our representative sample landed on four "Goods", two "Bads" and two "Mehs." Let's just hope things work out even better for 2016, if you know what I mean.

The Trump jokes are getting less funny.