Shameless Self Promotion

Did you go to college or live in a house with too many friends or burn with simultaneous idealism and confusion or put cumin in everything or hate war or love bicycles?

Then maybe you should check out my piece, Like a Spark to Darkness, in the Atticus Review. It’s an excerpt of my novel, GOOD LIKE THE SEA. It’s short. Read it.


Weather Update

So I lied. It is not sunny in Seattle. In fact, when I wrote that last post, the sun had already sort of gotten hidden behind some fog and it has been foggy ever since. I keep expecting Sherlock Holmes to pull up in a hackney cab.

But the thing is, in my head fog is pretty much the same as sun.

Gratuitous picture of Squinchy as a puppy -- but note the boring clouds.

Gratuitous picture of Squinchy as a puppy — but note the boring clouds.

Here’s why fog is like sun:

1. Often it burns off and the day turns into a sunny day.

2. Even if it doesn’t, I know the sun is really close, just on the other side of the fog.

3. It is Interesting Weather, as opposed to week after week of strato-cumulus drizzle.

4. Fog is not rain. This, I know, is a logical fallacy, but I’m comfortable with that.

Weather Report


Don’t tell the Californians, but it has been sunny in Seattle. We have had a week — more! — of pure sun, broken only by atmospheric fog. Vitamin D is in the very air. This is the week in January that keeps the whole Northwest from going postal.

Not only has it been sunny, it’s been cold. We’ve had frost. We’ve had ice. And, in the words of an infinitely quotable five year old, “if it rains it will snow.” Give that one to the Zen masters.

Squinchy knows how to enjoy the world. He rolls on the frozen puddle in the vacant lot like it is a ripe dead salmon. He sleeps by every fire.

If you are needing any help making the most of winter, curl up somewhere cozy and listen to me read you a story. It will only take a minute and fourteen seconds. If that’s not enough, click on some of the other ones. I can promise you British accents. But don’t do this during the daylight. Get out into the sunlight, if you have it. We want you to stay sane.

The Corporation Called Shotgun

carpool by tyger_lyllie

Do you remember, o faithful ‘moth reader, when I wrote about corporate personhood and suggested that it implies that if you have your corporation in the car with you, that should qualify you for the carpool lane?

Someone is testing it out. His name is Jonathan Frieman, and he’s been driving around Marin County carpool lanes with his corporation for a while now, purposely trying to get a ticket and push this issue. Are corporations people? Do they need seat belts? This week, a judge ruled no. Now, I hear, Mr. Frieman is appealing that ruling.  Definitely something to follow.

The judge says that allowing corporation people to count in the carpool lane is not the intent of the law. Seems like the same thing could be said about the intent of the right to free speech. I wonder, though, about whether the papers of incorporation count as the corporation. It’s a little like having someone’s birth certificate count as that person. So I ask you all to look deeply inside yourselves and wonder: where does the soul of a corporation lie? Is it merely a physical document? Or is it something more ephemeral? Ask yourselves, does it even exist?

And what is a person without a soul?

Millionaires, Corrected

My great uncle, Grumpy, pointed out that not only is my arithmetic sometimes shaky, my definition of a millionaire was too. A millionaire is someone whose wealth amounts to a million dollars, not someone who makes a million a year. So, you could make a whole lot less than a million every year and still be a millionaire.

But I don’t know whether this makes it better or worse.

Another way to say that a person’s wealth amounts to a million dollars (besides saying they are worth that, which is super-pukey — let’s not measure worth in ciphers and paper slips, but in actions and loved ones and dreams), is to say that their assets amount to a million dollars. Another way to say this is that they have a million dollars they aren’t really using. Sure, they might be living on the interest of these assets. They might be living in one or seven of their assets. They might fly and drive and wear them. But they aren’t spending them.

This looks worse for me. I’m a pretty good saver, but still, depending on the month, I’d have to multiply my assets by forty or fifty to be this kind of millionaire.

What about all the people living paycheck to paycheck? What about everyone who is in debt?

Millionaires, By My Calculations

I am pretty bad at arithmetic. I like some more complex maths, like the geometry of triangles, and solving for x. The Fibonacci number sequence makes me happy, and I love counting by nines. Back when arithmetic in school was a bunch of gnomes named Plus, Minus, Times, and Divide, math was alright. However, I stink at what my math teachers horrifically called “guesstimation.” Maybe it is an act of rebellion against the butchering of our language. Maybe it is because I’m rusty. It isn’t the fault of my mother or my genes; my grandpa was a math teacher. But somehow, the little black number squiggles have always felt slippery and indifferent in a way letter squiggles never have. There are wrong answers, for one thing.

Fibonacci spiral

I recently made a particularly jarring guesstimate. I figured out I would only need to make nine times as much money as I make to be a millionaire. Well, I thought, if I worked full time, that could double my salary, and if I got married to someone who worked full time, that could double or triple that. Considering I am still early in my career, I could easily be a millionaire by my fifties!

Then I checked my math.

Turns out, I would need to make THIRTY TIMES what I make to be a millionaire. I have not been able to stop thinking about this. First of all, how was my math so bad? But more importantly, holy fuck, that is a huge disparity.

Millionaires make more in a day than what I make in a month.

I live in a nice house, eat good food, own a car, have health insurance, take trips to Paris, don’t get in debt for Christmas, and occasionally impulse buy two hundred dollar pairs of shoes with no bad results. I don’t feel poor.

And I’m not. Millionaires make more like seventy times what a full-time Federal minimum wage job pays. That means millionaires make in a day what lots of people make in three and a half months. Millionaires — assuming they have to work to get their money — can make a year’s minimum wage salary in a leisurely European work week.

Clearly, this is fucked up. Also, there are billionaires. This clashes with my sense of order and proportion, though Fibonacci numbers clearly show how money breeds money like rabbits breed rabbits.

And yet, I was just dreaming of being a millionaire. I am excited about my belief in the limitless possibility of my life, and financial health and the feeling of prosperity matter to me, though I find that this is as much a mental state as it is a particular income. I guess I just want this for everyone, minimum wage workers and millionaires alike. My hunch is, living with a sense of generous plenty would be a stretch for people on both ends — otherwise, why do rich people keep moneymaking as fast as humping bunnies?

I know that the income disparity is not new news, but sometimes a little math can illuminate things. And just so you know, I double-checked my statistics. With a calculator.