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The Daily Sam: Fred and the Origins of Life on Earth

This past weekend my daughter Laura and I took a trip to Southern California because we needed some quality dad-daughter car time. We also visited four universities Laura is considering attending. We had trouble getting around LA because several downtown streets were closed for the Amgen Tour of California bicycle race time trials. LA is not designed for pedestrians or bicycles, and their presence created immediate chaos.

In addition to the bike riding athletes and fans there were cops on bicycles. Laura and I had the idea that the police should ride unicycles. This would soften the image of the LAPD, who often ride around in Apocalypse Now helicopters with giant searchlights and loudspeakers. Imagine a cop on a unicycle asking you for your license and registration—you’d just have to smile. And that’s when he’d taser you.

Looking at colleges with your child is a major milestone. This is the time when you realize that a new generation has come along and that they are about to replace you, which makes sense, because they are way smarter than you are. For instance, they don’t end their sentences in prepositions. But that isn’t all. While we were taking a drive along the beautiful coast on our way to visit the University of California at Santa Barbara, Laura taught me all about the origins and evolution of life on earth. As I remember it, the process went something like this:

1. A bunch of tiny organisms are floating around in the ocean.
2. One of them, named Fred, develops nubs and discovers that he can lodge in places the other organisms can’t, enabling him to get more food.
3. Some of Fred’s descendents figure out how to absorb other smaller organisms and grow larger. They also figure out how to convert sunlight into candy. These organism become plants.
4. Other of Fred’s descendents reject the sunlight diet. They prefer to eat other small organisms. These creatures become animals.
5. An alien spaceship lands on earth and releases two human beings named Adam (played by Mario Lopez) and Eve (played by Beyonce) into the wild. This is the beginning of the human species on earth.

I learned all this on the road between Ventura and Stan Barbara, where we stopped to eat at In-N-Out Burger, proving that we are not plants.

The next step, of course, is for Laura to apply to the colleges of her choice. Then comes the nail-biting wait for news, followed closely by the terrifying realization that all this will have to be paid for. I think I am going to have to start moonlighting as a bank robber. I can see it now—me running down California Street after robbing the Wells Fargo, with dozens of San Francisco’s finest in hot pursuit on their unicycles.