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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.


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Seth Kabala

About: Seth Kabala
Seth is an entrepreneur, writer, and musician. He lives with his wife and three children in Portland, OR.

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