Warning: I’m about to brag insufferably about my kids. Feel free to skip ahead.

Maddie sang the national anthem at the Penguins game Thursday. She thought it would be fun to “experiment” with a lower key – in front of 20,000 people, on a whim. Like I need that kind of stress. 

She’s done a bunch of Pens and Pirates games since she was 11, an NCAA basketball tournament, a private U.S. Open event for President Bush, and countless swim meets, marathons, and charity gigs.  

This Penguins game from 2016 is still my favorite.

She could sing before she could talk. We assumed we were biased, obviously. A voice expert convinced us it was more. She could cover 4½ octaves, 5 on a good day.

At 7, she played Gretl in a professional production of The Sound of Music in Pittsburgh. Ever since, all she wants is Broadway. Nothing else.

She can cite Ethel Merman’s bio like I knew Dan Marino’s stats as a kid. Her iPhone password is Sutton Foster’s birthday. It’s singing, dancing, and acting, six days a week. Plus eight weeks at performing arts summer camp in the Catskills.

Her voice teacher once told us Maddie could be a child star. Or she could have a long, healthy Broadway career. Just not both.

So, when she was 10, we made her a PowerPoint chronicling Macauley Culkin, Lindsay Lohan, and Judy Garland. That’s all it took.

She’s had opportunities to audition in New York. She said no. She was invited to sing for the producers of America’s Got Talent. No. The local news once asked to do a story about her. No.

Because none of that will make her better. Probably the opposite.

We see fame-seeking kids all the time. It’s usually the parents, either trying to live their dreams vicariously or because they see a lottery ticket.

There are exceptions. Not many.

Fame is terrible for families – especially siblings. Siblings live in shadows.

But Maddie knows to be nice to her sister. She’ll need a couch to sleep on while waiting tables between auditions one day. And Noelle’s going to be an engineer, making 10X more money than Maddie. 

For now, our kids are being kids. Aside from an occasional arena performance, mostly to score me a few tickets for my favorite hockey team.

Hey, I’m not above the occasional perk. I have to drive A LOT.   

Here’s what we’re seeing this week:    

Credit card debt is climbing and that’s not good. The percentage of Americans who are reporting credit card debt has climbed to 44% from 41% a year ago. Of those, 1 in 4 owe more than $10K, especially my fellow Gen Xers. Not surprisingly, people who blew their 2018 tax refund, rather than saving it or applying it to debt, are the deepest in the hole. And there’s a correlation between carrying credit card debt and being the kind of cat who likes to eat out, which could be a harbinger of bad news for the restaurant industry if things get worse.

In not entirely unrelated lousy news, it’s hard to be optimistic about holiday retail right now. The National Retail Federation put out a very happy announcement the other day predicting holiday retail sales to jump as much as 4.2% this year. Woo-hoo! Here’s the problem: we seldom go back and check these things. The NRF forecasted 4.3% growth last year and it came in at 2.9%. Granted, it’s very early but our data give no reason to expect a better outcome right now. The percentage of holiday shoppers expecting to spend less or much less this year is up 3% over September-October 2018. But I appreciate the NRF for their wishful thinking.

Parents would rather have their kids knocked on their asses than sitting on them. Huh? I absolutely loved this study we published about sports, contact sports, and eSports, gauging how comfortable parents are with their kids playing each. Despite all the attention paid to concussions in sports, parents would still rather expose their kids to injury risk than see them playing competitive video games. I was particularly surprised to see the difference among moms – 21% say they are “very comfortable” with their kids playing contact sports, versus only 12% for eSports. Men are basically twice as comfortable with both.

A ton of people watch Netflix without paying for it. In the second installment of our Netflix profile study, we looked at “Borrowers,” namely those who admit to leeching off someone else’s log-in without paying for it. Turns out, over 1 in 4 adult Netflix users fall into this category. Not surprisingly, 49% of these moochers are under the age of 30 – presumably kids copping their parents’ account. But that also means over half are 30+, including 15% who are over 65 (presumably borrowing from their kids). They’re also much more likely to be Hispanic, which aligns with what we know about close extended-family ties among that cohort. It all just makes you wonder what kind of blind-spots exist in the audience data.

People are slowly warming up to biometrics but there’s a long way to go. All the tech giants are pushing their own biometric initiatives, from Amazon letting people pay for groceries at Whole Foods by scanning their hands to Apple Watches identifying people by their skin. In most cases, only about 20-or-so percent of people are comfortable with biometrics but the numbers look much better among the younger crowd. The biggest impediment, however, seems to be declining trust in the tech companies themselves, not the tech. That’s a tough cycle to break.

We also looked into the rising popularity of Delta Airlines and basically predicted their killer Thursday earnings call. And we examined the big potential for robot food delivery among Grubhub and Postmates users.

Judging by our analytics, it seems most of you are only here for the popular questions of the week, so without further ado:

Hoping you’re well.