Rocks > People? — Sept. 16, 2021

In high school, I was friends with a girl named Denise. She and I were both free-spirited creative types who liked to write. For a time, we served as co-presidents of the formed-by-us creative writing club, and we even went on a date (that didn’t work out too well).

Denise was and is a no-bullshit person, and I valued her friendship as a high schooler because what you saw was what you got. Denise wasn’t going to tell you what you wanted to hear. She was going to tell you the truth. Perhaps not surprisingly, Denise wasn’t a big fan of people. I will always remember one lunch time when we were outside of The Commons on a warm just-before-school-let-out-for-the-summer day and she said, “I don’t like people. I like rocks.”

We made fun of her for that. Playfully, of course. I was a social butterfly back then, a guy who, in the middle of a nasty, cliquish high school, floated between groups, generally being on good terms with everyone except Joey Sementelli, my middle school bully, someone whom I still loathe on principle though I haven’t seen him in 30 years.

Anyway, as time has gone on, I’ve become less of the butterfly and more of the lone wolf — or maybe it’s the stinky skunk. Whatever animal analogy you want to make, I have few people who actually know me. I don’t like this. I didn’t intend to do this. It just sort of happened. The older I got, the more I couldn’t make sense of people, of their motivations for doing the things they do, of their propensity to be assholes. People tend to tire me out these days, outside of the few who remain in whatever constitutes my inner circle. I have times where the ugliness of the world just smacks me in the face, where I see people do shitty things to others and to me, where the driver of the car behind me flashes her lights and gives me the finger instead of using either the lane to the left or the lane to the right to pass a 10-mph-over-the-speed-limit me on I-70.

Today was one of those days. I am working really, really hard at the end of a sprint that came at the end of a marathon. Ever since November, life has been absolutely insane. COVID, Longhaul COVID, the death of my father-in-law, the presence of a tiny African for six months, fighting to get paid my value at my old job, getting my house ready to sell, selling my house, starting a new job and moving. I. Am. Tired. There’s no doubt about that. So when a new co-worker does something that I considered pretty shitty, well, I’m just sad tonight. I’m sad people don’t treat each other better. I’m sad people aren’t who they show themselves to be. I’m sad communication is so easily interrupted by misunderstandings. I’m sad that people don’t more often talk to each other instead of about each other. I’m sad that things are the way they actually are in this country instead of the way I wish they would be.

In the end, I’ll be fine. I’m sprinting toward the finish line of this crazy race. We close on Old House in 10 days. New House is feeling more like New Home every day. My co-worker and I are already fine and moving forward as if nothing happened, as far as I’m concerned. Wifey Poo booked a cabin at the Lake for me to go to in early October to have a writing weekend. My boys are awesome. Life is good.

But sometimes I think Denise had it right. My thing isn’t rocks. It might be cigars, a good glass of dry red wine, the comfort of the blanket Wifey Poo made for me or music that makes me feel. People, though? People have the tendency to make my life infinitely more painful and confusing.


Date Morning

On a much brighter note, I had a date with Wifey Poo before work this morning. We intended to grab coffee and tea at Bread Co., or, as everyone else not from St. Louis knows it, Panera. Alas, the lobby was closed, I’m sure for lack of workers. So we went to Starbucks, which proceeded to take 25 minutes to make a cappuccino and a tea. Again, I blame the worker shortage. Get on that, Biden, would ya?

It was nice sitting outside in the morning sun and talking with Wifey Poo about random little things. We’ve had so much not-random-not-little lately that it was a good change to talk about stuff that really doesn’t matter much at all.


The ‘Don’t Blame Me, I Didn’t Say It’ of the Day

‘No.’

Rep. Barbara Lee, Sept. 14, 2001

“Hindsight is always 20/20.”

“Monday morning quarterbacking.”

“With the benefit of hindsight…”

These phrases (and others) are used to dismiss people who look back at a situation to critique what was done. And yes, it’s fair to give less weight to people’s opinions when they are shaped by everything that eventually unfolded instead of what was known at the time.

But this shouldn’t be used as an excuse to not look at how things actually unfolded. History can be very instructive to the present to help us shape a better future.

Rep. Barbara Lee serves California’s 13th District. Twenty years ago this week, she cast the lone dissenting vote against authorizing the use of military force in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

Rep. Lee was not an unwavering pacifist. She wasn’t, as some of the voluminous hate mail she received accused, a secret member of the Taliban. She wasn’t even being partisan. Rather, she had a problem with the 60 words that made up the resolution, fearing that they empowered the presidency — not the specific president — to wage an unending war against unspecified enemies using never-before-used tactics on a new-concept battlefield.

The resolution she voted against read:

“That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

Since our nation rightfully went after the organization from which the horrendous acts of 9/11 sprung forth, the president at the time and the men who followed him have used those words to justify deadly strikes against organizations and in countries that had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks on New York and D.C. Were they against people who perhaps shared some ideals with the 9/11 attackers? Certainly. Were they against people who oppose the “American way of life” (whatever that is) and our style of international diplomacy? Most definitely. Did these strikes prevent future acts of international terrorism against our country? Yeah, prolly.

Was Rep. Lee’s vote unAmerican?

Hardly.

Hindsight gives us the benefit of clarity. With a populace more interested in Kardashian fashion and eating Tide Pods, successive administrations from both parties took those 60 words and lit the fuse under our mighty military, using it as a bullwhip across the Middle East and Africa (and killing more innocent civilians than were killed here on 9/11 by multiples). Those words created the justification for torture and perpetual imprisonment of hundreds of human beings, some of whom were later proven to have absolutely no affiliation with any terrorist organization whatsoever. The list of organizations on the approved strike list grew and grew and grew but was kept secret even from Congress, giving the presidency free reign to annihilate those with differing religious and political persuasions and no connection to the events that unfolded on 9/11.

On the day of the vote that would make Rep. Lee a pariah, there was a memorial service in Washington, D.C., for the victims. A member of clergy urged the gathered, which included just about every senator and congressperson:

“As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore.”

Guantanamo Bay. Torture. Drone strikes that killed innocent civilians.

We became that evil. Patriotism turns out to be not much better than many of the other “isms” out there.

But hey. Hindsight is always 20/20.


Today’s Reasons to Keep Living

  1. My new boss is pretty bad-ass and doesn’t let problems fester. She tackles them head-on, without politics, and I appreciate that.
  2. Coming home to the country after a day like this. I can literally leave the insanity behind and sit out in the darkness listening to the nighttime bugs sing their songs.
  3. A good cigar.

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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Awkward Shopping 🛏️Disingenuous Holiday 🗓️Help the Homeless 😔 If there’s a more awkward retail excursion than mattress shopping, I have yet to find it in my 48 years. Wifey Poo and I went to a high school gym to do exactly that on Sunday afternoon. The bed we’ve been sleeping in…

So Long, Cards — Oct. 9, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Playoff Disappointment ⚾Oh, Britney 📲Friendship Failure 😔 In the span of just more than 24 hours, I went from the excited expectation of being in Busch Stadium to watch the hometown St. Louis Cardinals eliminate the Philadelphia Phillies and advance to the next round of the playoffs to watching those Phillies…

Playoff Baseball — Oct. 6, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Baseball Gear-Grinders ⚾Sunrise Woes 🌄Heavy Pumpkins 🎃 There are a few baseball-related indignities in my home that, as the saying goes, grind my gears. The first is that there is a state championship trophy on the mantel above the fireplace in our Humble Country Home with a gold-plated baseball player, bat…

There Will Be Blood — Oct. 5, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Wound Treatment 🧂Phillies Bring Doom ⚾Meetings Suck 👎🏽 Apparently, I’ll take medical advice from waitresses and allow myself to receive medical treatment from busboys. This, I learned last night. I have a tendency to get hurt in really interesting ways. When I tell you that I once got a concussion…

Top 5 Things From The Past Week: 9/26-10/2

Welcome to Issue No. 8 of Listicles, the feature that presents the Top 10, Top 5, Top 3, Top 100 or Top 1,000,000 of whatever it is you want to know about. Email your Listicle suggestions to johnagliata@gmail.com. No. 5: I held an epic car concert If you were anywhere in the vicinity of my…

Place Your Bets — Oct. 3, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Football Picking God 🏈Fish Story 🐟Free Floating ☁️ A few months before Boy The Elder was born, I had about $100 set aside to buy Wifey Poo a gift that I intended to give her after she ushered our child into the world. It was the least I could do for,…

Sliced Bread — Sept. 30, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩New Route Home 🏎️Confirmed Weirdness 🤪Here’s Your Sign 🤦 I took a new route home from the western part of Missourah yesterday after doing the whole open-house thing for work in St. Joseph. Rather than shoot down to I-70 and traverse the state on that familiar road, I went across Hwy.…

Rental Tank — Sept. 29, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Woo-Woo vs. The Beast 🛻Dart Throwers 🎯My Job 📋 I am not used to driving a tank. My normal vehicle is Woo-Woo, AKA The Shitty Little Car, AKA a Nissan Versa. It’s practical. It gets great gas mileage. I hate it. Woo-Woo normally accelerates as quickly as a child asked to…

LinkedIn — Sept. 26, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Unwitting Guinea Pigs 🐹False Bragging 🦹‍♂️Put Me In, Coach 🚀 My regular readers (hey, you three!) know that I have a hatred for social media’s influence on society with an intensity rivaled only by the heat of a thousand suns. The latest bit of “Are you fucking kidding me?” comes from…

Top 5 Things From The Past Week: 9/9-9/25

Welcome to Issue No. 7 of Listicles, the feature that presents the Top 10, Top 5, Top 3, Top 100 or Top 1,000,000 of whatever it is you want to know about. Email your Listicle suggestions to johnagliata@gmail.com. No. 5: I reached out to a friend I have not been shy about sharing that I’ve…

iPhone Envy — Sept. 25, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩More Stupid Human Stuff 📱KC Trip ⚾Miserable Missourah 😠 Quick: Take a look around you. If you’re in a room with five other people, one of them thinks you’re financially struggling if you don’t have the latest iPhone. That’s according to a new survey following the release of the iPhone 14.…

Human Babies — Sept. 23, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Loser Species 👶Email Win 📧Dad Pride 👨‍👦‍👦 I’m pretty sure I’m not normal. Normal people respond to that statement with, “Oh, John, nobody’s normal,” which is just a sign for us non-normies that the person we’re talking to is normal. Yesterday, I was waiting for Wifey Poo to pick me up…

In It — Sept. 22, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Thoughts 🧠Marriage 💍Drunk Idiots 🧉 There’s this scene in the 2004 movie Garden State in which Sam (Natalie Portman) looks at Andrew (Zach Braff) and notices … … And yeah, that resonated with me then and resonates with me now. Ever since then, being “in it” has become a thing…

Remembering Sarah — Sept. 21, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sadness 😥Beautiful Skies ⛅Two Terms For 2022 ✌️ Back in our early days at Pound Ridge Elementary School, Sarah was the fastest girl runner in the class, which bought her some serious playground cred. There were only a few of us boys who could hang with Sarah in the 50-meter dash…

Small Ear Canal — Sept. 19, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ear Flushing👂Grunge God🎶Tech Guy📺 If you have to have a doctor tell you a body part or yours is small, I suppose one of the least offensive would be the ear canal. That’s what a doctor told me this morning, after I finally broke down and actually went to said doctor’s…

Sunday Randomness — Sept. 18, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Two, Four, Six, Eight👑Tips💰Book Buying📖 Some random thoughts from the week that was: Today’s Reasons to Keep Living

Nominee Day! — Sept. 16, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Toys in the Hall🪅Idiot Governors🗳️Flopping FedEx✈️ Last night in my hotel in Springfield, Missourah, I set out a glass of milk and a plate of cookies before going to bed. It’s not that I don’t know how to read a calendar or have any particular belief in a fat man in…

Springfields Aplenty — Sept. 15, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Which One?🗺️Leave Introverts Alone🤫Oxford Commas🤪 I’m on the road for work this week, in Springfield. Ahhh, but Springfield what? There currently are 35 populated places in the United States named Springfield, spread out over 25 states, including five in Wisconsin. In addition, there are 35 Springfield Townships, and Ohio owns 11…

F’n COVID — Sept. 13, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Surrounded 😷Wood Splitter 🌲Morons 🤪 I’ve had COVID. Twice. The first time fucked up my life for a year. I’m still not back to the me I was before it came into my home, and I’m pretty sure that now, nearly two years later, that’s not going to change. The second…

Change of Plans — Sept. 12, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sunday audible🤒Fantasy Failure 🏈Anal Chess♟️ Sunday was supposed to be a romantic day spent in a canoe with Wifey Poo, the two of us paddling leisurely down the Meramec River. Mother Nature was not in the mood to play wingman and decided to pick the one day in the midst of…

Why Run? — Sept. 11, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Finish Line Scene 🏃‍♂️Baseball’s Better ⚾M-I-Z! Z-O-UC-H! 🏈 I have never understood the modern-day purpose of running for the sake of running. Sure, I understand it’s a great form of cardiovascular exercise and it’s a convenient way to get from Point A to Point B, yet the desire to strap on…

Stephen King — Sept. 9, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Book Guy 📚Queen Stuff 👑Bernard Shaw 📺 I’ve decided I want to own a copy of every Stephen King book ever written. That’s about 75 books at the moment. I have a built-in bookcase in my mancave/home office. I don’t think it would hold all 75 in hardcover, but perhaps it…

Random Bullets — Sept. 8, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shrimp(s) 🍤Toilet Training 🚽Apple’s Long Game 🍏 A little bit of randomness for a Thursday. Today’s Reasons to Keep Living

Once Upon a Time — Sept. 7, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beginnings 📚School Start 🚌Real Baseball ⚾ I was thinking this morning on my drive to work how we rarely know when the significant times in our lives begin. So frequently, the most important things that happen to us start with nothing noteworthy. Of course, there are exceptions, the “love-at-first-sight” moments or…

Chainsaws & Ladders — Sept. 6, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Fallin’ Thoughts 🤕Shinedown 🎸Sleepy 😴 The brain can be surprisingly efficient when the meatsack it’s attached to is in the middle of falling off a ladder while holding a revved-up chainsaw. This, I learned yesterday morning while attempting to saw a limb off a tree that was getting way too close…

Inside a Good Day — Sept. 5, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Overview📅Fantasy Football🏈Elite Bonding🤼‍♂️ Days that start with chainsaws and lighter fluid and end with four hours of really good professional wrestling are bound to be added to the “good” column for review when the scales are weighed at the end of a life. Yesterday was such a day for me. In…

Second Mothers — Sept. 3, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Funeral 😢Glimmers ☁️Meat 🥩 If you’re lucky, you’ve had a second mother. Whether your first mother was or is an amazing person who nurtured you and raised you among calm consistency or if she was lacking in certain maternal fundamentals, having a second mother is a blessing. Today, we were there…

Muricah the Crumbling — Sept. 2, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩We’re Dumber 👎OnlyFans Thrives 🍑Shinedown 🎵 Official statistics put the COVID death toll in the United States at 1.04 million, with another 713 deaths yesterday. More than 4,000 people are in the ICU right now suffering from what the former Moron-in-Chief called that one person coming from China and a situation…

Bratwurst Flap — August 31, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dethroned Queen 👑Gravy Wrestling 🤼‍♂️Dog Talk 🐕 Don’t fuck with the Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival board. That’s a message Abigail Brocwell is learning the hard way. Brocwell was expected to be inaugurated as the queen of the festival in the northern Ohio town earlier this month, but she was stripped of the…

Baseball Serendipity — August 30, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩3, Unassisted ⚾A Sad Day 📅Tracking Your Vagina 🌸 The last time Boy The Younger was on a baseball field, the “coach” of his team removed him from a game in the middle of an inning because I had privately messaged him to not attempt to steal home with my kid…

Failure to Launch — August 29, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hydrogen Issue 🚀Karting 🏎️Lake Life 😌 I was all excited to watch the launch of the moon-bound Artemis 1 rocket this morning, only to see the clock stopped at T-minus 40 minutes because of a “hydrogen issue.” Don’t know about you, but I’m thinking having an issue with hydrogen is a…

Hypnotized — August 26, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Karen in Control ⌚Karting 🏎️What podcast? 🎧 In the winter of 1993, I went to a comedy club with a friend and, in the spur of the moment, decided to be one of those who came forward to join the fun and be hypnotized. This was decidedly out of character for…

Outrage? — August 25, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little League Flap ⚾Grandpa Joe 🤦Psychedelics 🍄 Boys are interesting creatures who aren’t easily understood. One of the many, many weird things boys do is mercilessly make fun of their best friends. My closest friends in middle school and early in high school were affectionately nicknamed Goon, Tree Frog, Butt and…

Life Expectancy — August 24, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 Death Cometh Sooner 💀Twitter Security 🔓Game Over 🌑 Average life expectancy in the United States dropped in 2020 by almost two years in 2020, the biggest decline since World War II. Every state and the District of Columbia saw a drop. Guess it was a little bit more than that…

Mysterious Brain — August 23, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Worm brain 🧠Chicken Big Mac 🐔Eye Twitch 👁️ Caenorhabditis elegans is probably too elegant of a name for something that is really just a disgusting little worm about a millimeter long and most easily found in rotting fruit. It is more commonly known as a lab roundworm and was the first…

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