insurance design

Smoking Charges Ignite

Last night, Amy took Anna, our seven-year-old, to the dress rehearsal for her 2015 dance recital. I was left in charge of Will, our nine-year-old, and Ella, our three-year-old. What follows is a litany of the kids showing me that I exist in their world as a piece of tightly-spun twine, permanently...

[ Swap Article ]

Sad Child


Our actions become our kids' reactions. Not exactly new. Not exactly Newtonian (pause while joke sinks in). But it's a truism all the same. ...

[ Swap Article ]

Car radio

Piece of Sh*t Car Reprise

When I was in high-school, a popular song named "Ode to My Car," by Adam Sandler, spun regularly on the radio. No, it didn't. All foul-mouthed teenage boys wished such happy, unfiltered radio days would appear, but that didn't stop the explicit lyrics from making an impact, even if the song's plot...

[ Swap Article ]


Advertise Here

Fresh off finishing my Competent Communicator Toastmasters credential, I veered into zany territory for my next speech. I suspect this is where I will live from now on, with perhaps the occasional trip back to Seriousness Land. Why put yourself …...

[ Swap Article ]


Certain messes in life are unavoidable. If you get a DUI and your hair is sufficiently mussed or you manage to jam your finger into the nearest outlet just prior to the mug-shot, chances are you'll be a big-time celebrity some day. ...

[ Swap Article ]

A Reasonable Explanation

Therapist: Take me back to the beginning. Tell me how it all got started, how you eventually wound up holding the bloody knife in the aftermath of your killing spree. I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation....

[ Swap Article ]

That's a Mouthful

Waking up to the sounds of birds and (outside) insects is alluring, and when you have your second 10th cup of coffee and realize you are on vacation, and this auditory lovemaking is real, not the result of an ambitious-carpet-cleaning hallucination, you can finally relax, letting your bulk stress...

[ Swap Article ]

Stupid Piece of ... Oh, That's Right

I'm a realist. I call things like they are, and if I look stupid in the process, well, so be it. ...

[ Swap Article ]

Deadly Donuts

The morning started off good. Four eggs fluffed with a splash of milk, mixed with Parmesan and salt and black pepper and red pepper flakes and slathered with Cholula hot sauce; four ounces of Bob Evan's spicy Italian sausage (sorry for the smell, honey, luv ya) fried into the wonderful concoction;...

[ Swap Article ]

When Did I Become a Pushover?

I've never thought of myself as the Ultimate Fighter type. As a kid, whenever the possibility of bodily harm came up, I tried to avoid confrontation. But if the issue was pressed, I could stand up and issue fake threats along with the best of them and hope that my manufactured bravado was enough to...

[ Swap Article ]

As I Approach 30

I live in a small town. Colona, IL has a population of just over 5,000. As a jogger, this means I am usually only assaulted with exhaust fumes a few times whenever I decide to go outside to burn some calories. But as far as the type of people passing me on the roadside? Over this, I have no control....

[ Swap Article ]

Choose Smile Face

Filed Under , on June 16th, 2018

The Answer Is Me

By Seth Kabala

Fresh off finishing my Competent Communicator Toastmasters credential, I veered into zany territory for my next speech. I suspect this is where I will live from now on, with perhaps the occasional trip back to Seriousness Land. Why put yourself through the pain of voluntary public speaking if you’re not going to have fun with it, right? Masochist classes are two doors back on the left. Only Sadists wanted here.

For you, dear reader, I inflict a guided trip into my brain as I present Toastmasters speech #11.

A lot has changed here in Portland since I arrived three summers ago, and not for the better, unless you count the extra body heat the increased MAX traffic has produced. It’s like a human Petri dish in there. Wait a minute or two, and the humans multiply like bacteria. This is fine if you’ve got bad circulation (check), and you need extra warmth (check), and you don’t mind cozying up to complete strangers, who’ve just smoked enough weed to improve the mood of every passenger on the train. (I work in tax administration, depends on the day.)

Hey, second-hand smoke? Secondary market? I see a business idea for someone with “high” ambition.

Another change you may have noticed: the weather has gone crazy. Like Nick Nolte’s mugshot crazy. Like Brittany Spears’ shaved head crazy. Too dated? How about this: like the Blazers made a good draft choice and made it past the first round of the playoffs crazy. Like Mayor Wheeler asked Donald Trump to be his kids’ godfather crazy.

Specifically, I’m talking about the insane heat and record-worthy snow we’ve experienced since I arrived.

I did my due diligence. I researched weather history. I read climate reports. I even visited the granddaddy of all authorities—Wikipedia—to double-check my theories. I supplemented this by accessing that wizened, impartial, local fact factory: the Oregonian. What I found was this: in 2017, we had 20 days with >= 90-degree temps. From 1940 – 2015, we had a yearly average of 11 days above 90. 2017’s average June high was two degrees warmer than the average from 1981 – 2010; July, also up two degrees; August, up six degrees!

What’s the explanation? Is it an increase in the number of steel casting plants? Further dissipation of the ozone layer?

I don’t think so.

My buddies have jokingly said, “You’ve cursed us, man.” But fellow Toastmasters, the answer is me.

Like Bruno Mars sang in Uptown Funk: “I’m too hot (hot damn) Called the police and the fireman. I’m too hot.”

I have a special device, courtesy of the fire department, attached to my car to tell me to stay away from active fires, because I unknowingly make the problem worse. I must recognize my hotness, do my civic duty, and stay away.

Chocolatiers use me as a cautionary tale, telling their fellow sweets purveyors to beware of the too-hot customer, or else risk turning their work product into a river of chocolate, followed by a river of tears.

It’s me. I take the blame. I’m sorry.

Similar to my heat research, using that paragon of human intelligence, that zeitgeist of infallible information, that superfluous fountain of unassailable knowledge from which only truth can flow—Wikipedia—supplemented by the unquestionable integrity of the Oregonian fact factory—I looked up Portland’s snow history.

The snowstorm we had last January (known as “Snomageddon” in Internet meme parlance) was the biggest in 20 years, dropping 12” in a 24-hr period. This storm ranked in the area’s top 10 biggest of all time. The biggest ever was in 1943, when 16” fell on the metro.

What’s the explanation? Is it an increase in the number of liquid nitrogen manufacturing plants? Further mandatory consumption of Icees by the general populace?

I don’t think so.

The answer, fellow Toastmasters, is again me.

Like Adam Levine sang in Maroon 5’s hit by the same name, “Baby, tell me how did you get so cold.”

Not just cold. Cool, son.

When grocery stores lose power, they call me up. A couple seconds with me standing in the midst of the ice-cream and popsicles, and the product remains salable—at least whatever I don’t sample. If you’ve seen me at Costco, you know to get out the way when the pizza oven dings.

When ice-fishing season is in jeopardy, the fishers call me up. A couple seconds with me standing on top of the thin ice, and you could drive a Hummer across the surface.

In reality, I don’t have superpowers, for good or evil. I’m not magical, though I do have a Mad-Eye Moody wand from Harry Potter lore, and I take it out and wave it around every so often. Just in case.

I’m no more responsible for Portland’s weather highs and lows than beef jerky is for its preternatural goodness, Roseanne Barr is for her political tolerance, or Donald Trump is for his self-deprecating humility. Some things are what they are. That’s it.

If I could have one superpower, though, it would definitely be to crack the formula to harness second-hand smoke. That way, the next time a smoker blows a lovely cloud of vapor into my walking path, I could go up to said smoker and say, “Smoker! Thank you. Thank you.”

To all native Pacific Northwesterners, sorry not sorry. I know I’ve set myself up to be the punching bag for all the bi-polar weather we’ve been having here, but observe the hyperbole.

Observe and be overwrought.

With overwroughtness.


Leave a Reply

Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, musician, family man, and juggler of balls--big ones. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

0 Comments Load Comments


Shuffler's Luck

I never knew a card game could change my life. I'm not talking about a high-stakes poker game, where international gangsters vie for dominance in a world of chance, and if chance doesn't go their way, bullets will do as a nice substitute. I'm talking about a simple card game with suggestions for the...

[ Swap Article ]

Bully man

Meter Mensch

A co-worker of mine dropped her bus pass in the hall. Someone picked it up and handed it to her. She thanked the person, saying she was sure glad she hadn't lost it for good. I poked my head out of my office and said, "You just ruined a fare inspector's day." Got a good laugh, and it got me...

[ Swap Article ]

Chess board made of white and brown sugar with King

Sweetness and Dark

The street is dark. Cars line both sides, hugging the curbs. Streetlamps reflect off of glossy paint jobs and squeegeed windshields, creating alternative perspective art pieces from flipped aspect ratios of bent light. A breeze blows the evening fog up from the water. It lowers the ambient...

[ Swap Article ]

Holy Cow - handgezeichnete Illustration mit Pastellkreide in türkis

Couch Etymology

From where you sit, do you understand seated origin? The reason for said sitting? If not, you soon will. ...

[ Swap Article ]

Pop-art style poster with hipster deer dressed in yellow glasses and scarf, telling I am cool.

Toxic Bambi

Yesterday while I was writing, Ella, our seven-year-old, came up to me and said she had thought of a joke. "My first joke," she announced, pride streaming from her voice and face. I asked her what it was. Here's what she said, "What does [we'll say Bob] want to do for school? Me U. Get it? Me U...

[ Swap Article ]

World Map in Typography word cloud concept, names of countries

Plan for the Journey

Toastmasters is moving away from its physical manuals and static speech-making program into a dynamic program called Pathways. On January 10, 2019, I delivered my first speech in Pathways: a re-imagination of my ice-breaker speech. If you don't know me, know this: if you give me a rubric, I will...

[ Swap Article ]


Battle of the Sarcasticons

I’m raising a band of Little Sarcasticons. Defined term? Yes, yes it is. You can find it in the Kabala Book of Sarcasticisms. New chapters available daily. No longer must we be constrained in our sarcastic witticism production. Oh, no, folks. Netflix has joined the charge with their resurrection...

[ Swap Article ]

Secondhand word cloud

Editor's Note--TFF Issue #20

Some vehicles bring lackluster competitive spirit to dancing competitions. Despite their nimble construction, most compact models lack the energy to stick it out in the most heated scenarios. Then you've got the ones who were made for dancing. Made for not just cruising down the road, but for...

[ Swap Article ]

Plumbing Speed Logo Icon Design

Speed Plumbing

The pipe masters ascended the stairs and entered the arena. They'd come a long way, building rudimentary structures to escape cribs and punish bullies as children, graduating to more complicated designs as adolescents and adults. Mario had been especially proud of his design that transported him...

[ Swap Article ]

Fortune cookie bad set. death and robber on paper prediction. Vector illustration

Imaginative Cookies

The executive stepped to the lectern, his stomach churning with nerves and the remnants of last night's authentic Mexican food. Wonderful flavors. Wonderful and punishing, that is. This moment was shaping up to be a repeat of that theme. Investors, the public, the press--if he could convince them...

[ Swap Article ]

Businessman Drawing on the Whiteboard. Pop Art

Editor's Note--TFF Issue #19

A few months ago, I decided to write a daily quote on my office wall. No, I’m not an irascible child who will not be contained in my creative fury. I have a whiteboard that I use for quote purposes and other work stuff. ...

[ Swap Article ]