🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
A Year of Hell 😷
Where’s Ben? 💔
Profiting From Pollution 🏭
Happy Covidaversary to me. On this day one year ago, I had a Q-tip shoved up my nose to confirm what I already knew. Wifey Poo’s sister had been diagnosed with it. Wifey Poo’s mother had been diagnosed with it. Wifey Poo’s father, just out of open heart surgery, had been diagnosed with it. Wifey Poo had been diagnosed with it. And the night before, every single last speck of energy had left my body. So bad was it that Wifey Poo had to drive me to get my nose assaulted.
I don’t even remember the day I got the call to confirm I was part of the growing ranks of Covid-afflicted. Aside from one really scary night during my two-week quarantine, Covid proper didn’t do a lot to me. I was dead tired, but I had no respiratory issues. No high fever. I was just achy and tired.
For a few weeks after my quarantine, I felt a bit better. And then I didn’t. And then I really didn’t. I couldn’t make it through a day of work. I needed naps. A lot of naps. I couldn’t think anymore. I’d try to do something like fasten my belt and couldn’t remember how to do it. I’d attempt to say something like “I left it in the garage” and it would come out as “I left it in the glasses.” And that was when something came out at all. Often times, I would trail off in the middle of sentences, unable to remember what should come next.
I would climb a flight of stairs and feel like I’d run a 5K. I’d be sitting on the couch and my heart would just start racing like I’d charged around the bases on an inside-the-park home run. I randomly would start to sweat for an hour… two hours.
Wifey Poo, Boy The Younger and I had been reading the Harry Potter series out loud to help pass pandemic time. Prior to my diagnosis, I’d become the main reader, the guy with the funny voices for Mad Eye Moody and Luna Lovegood (though I could never touch Wifey Poo’s Dobby).
Suddenly, I couldn’t read a paragraph without running out of breath or mental capacity to understand the words on the page. I had to hand the book to Wifey Poo. She finished the last few books.
I had my first doctor’s appointment on New Year’s Eve. Determined, I was, to get answers in 2021. Doctor’s appointments turned into tests and tests turned into more doctor’s appointments. I went to a Longhauler clinic run by Washington University and, by the time I had to walk from the parking lot to the waiting room and then fill out their paperwork, I couldn’t even tell the doctor why I was there. All I did was cry. Doctors had exactly no answers for me. Tests revealed a few hints but nothing to hang a diagnosis upon other than, “Yup, it’s Longhaul Covid, and we don’t know much about it.”
Yada yada yada.
Life is better now, mostly. I’m working on an article about exactly how I am kicking Longhaul Covid’s ass. I’ve been writing it for about two months now, but I’m hesitant. I learned the hard way that thinking I am “better” was a surefire way to have a relapse. And I do have relapses. They’re just not as bad and I’ve gotten a lot better at managing them. It took awhile, but I learned that Longhaul Covid is not something one can just push through with manly toughness. I tried. And I literally nearly died, passing out in the bedroom on our hardwood floors.
I haven’t gone one day in more than a year now without a horrible, rancid taste in my mouth and a goopy feeling on the back of my teeth that no doctor, dentist or ENT can actually see. I’m told it’s probably some damage to the nerve that sends signals to the brain or damage to the brain about how it interprets the signals from the tongue. As far as how to treat that, your guess is as good as theirs and mine.
When this taste is particularly bad and I’m in my car or somewhere that I can’t brush my teeth or use some mouthwash or have a Tic-Tac — not that any of those truly help for any great length of time — I sometimes wonder if this is how it’s going to be for the rest of my life. I’m grateful my sense of smell is undamaged and that my sense of taste was largely untouched, though water has started to take on a bit of an iffy tinge. If it is how every single goddamn day is going to be until I have the pleasure of dying, how am I going to do that?
The same way I did every day with Longhaul Covid, I guess. I didn’t have a choice, so I did it. And when things really sucked, I went to sleep and tried again the next day.
Fuck you, Covid. Fuck you, China. Fuck you, Trump and your Missourah lackey Parsons. Fuck you to everyone whose stupidity and idiotic faith in a demagogue allowed this thing to rampage through our country, kill people I cared about and fuck up my life. I know I’m not supposed to be bitter, that I’m supposed to “let that shit go.” But you try to let that shit go after the trip around the sun I’m just completing. I’m alive. I’m grateful for that. But I’m changed. And I don’t know that I’ll ever get rid of this thing.
So perhaps you’ll give me a little grace and allow me to spew my venom from time to time.
Hi. My name is John, and I’m a COVID Longhauler. Looking back, it’s clear when this little trend started. It was back in January, which, not surprisingly, is when it first hit me that no one knew what the fuck they were talking about with my Longhaul symptoms. It’s also when my father-in-law died. And…Keep reading
Hi. My name is John, and I’m a COVID Longhauler. Many people honestly struggle to see the world through anything other than their own filters. People believe the world is a certain way because their world is a certain way. If you want Reason No. 1 for why things suck, there ya have it. The…Keep reading
Hi. My name is John, and I’m a COVID Longhauler. When the coronavirus epidemic shut down the country in March 2020, Kent Taylor refused to accept his base salary as chief executive officer of Texas Roadhouse restaurants and instead poured that money back into his frontline restaurant workers to help them stay financially afloat. A…Keep reading
Right before Wifey Poo and I started dating as college freshmen, there was this whole to-do involving me, her, my friend Ben and a girl named, wait for it, Sunshine. I’ll spare you the details (which truly is more sparing myself from the embarrassment), but suffice to say I ended up going on a date or two with Sunshine because Wifey Poo’s interest in me was a bit vague thanks to a Beverly Hills 90210 incident. Trust me, it makes sense to us.
Anywho, Ben then proceeded to walk into Wifey Poo’s room the next day and ask her out. And she promptly told him, “No.”
She said that one word: “No,” and then there was silence, after a few seconds of which Ben got up, left the room and came into the commons area to replay the strange event for his buddies.
Wifey Poo’s two-letter crushing of Ben’s heart is something that comes up from time-to-time (as does my time with Sunshine, of course), and for some reason, it did this morning. So I looked Ben up. He’s an actuarial VP somewhere in Kansas. Quite a bit different life she would have had than with a weirdo empath creative-type from New York.
📚 Let’s Learn Something Together 📓🖊️
It is such an American thing to take what most in the scientific community are saying is humanity’s contribution to the long, slow march to the death chamber for our planet and try to make money off of it.
I became familiar with carbon offsets back when I worked in the electricity industry. Now, a decade later, talk about them has ramped back up. Essentially, a company pays for the right to put what that same overwhelming majority of the scientific community believes is harmful into the air. On the other end is another entity (sometimes a country, sometimes a state, sometimes an industry or community, depending on where you want to go with this) who will take your money and enable you to do what you do.
This all has some semblance of a chance of working if what that other entity is doing to offset your pollution actually works. But when part of that offset is, say, planting trees (which, yes, is a thing), and then big bad Mother Nature burns down those trees in a wildfire, well, all you have is a polluter who paid for the right to pollute.
But it’s worse than that. Companies who don’t want to stop polluting are able to pay for the right to pollute and then stuff run ads talking about how environmentally friendly they are! Because, yes, technically they might be able to reach net-zero with their pollution. But they’re doing absolutely nothing. They’re paying someone else to do it for them.
And then there’s you and me. Since Americans will bet on anything and what the stock market is at its core is a betting house, there soon could be the opportunity for us to invest in carbon offsets. If I believe you’ll someday pay $100 for a unit of offset and see the price right now is $75, I can buy low and wait for your need to pollute to push you into paying the higher price. Then not only are you still able to pollute but I can get rich off it!
Ahhh, America. What a country.
(Of course, if you look at “In Other Writing,” below, you’ll see my stance on humanity’s ability to turn this ship around. Hint: We can’t.)
The ‘What Did You Say?’ of the Day
High Five ✋
Today’s official endorsement goes to Ze (pronounced “Zay”) Frank’s True Facts series on YouTube. Back before there was a YouTube and a TikTok and content creation and virality, there was Ze, doing his “A Show With Ze Frank” for a year. And God, it was good. A raw, honest look at the day’s events. Everyone who’s making money off online content should be paying a tax to Ze for paving the way.
Of late, he’s been doing a series called “True Facts” in which he takes an animal and dives deep into “why it do what it do.” There are episodes on wild pigs and ticks and the tardigrade, batfishes, killer surfing snails and the sea pig. And damn if I don’t learn something from every one of them while laughing my ass off at the same time.
Here’s a good episode to start with:
In Other Writing …
Top 5 Things You’ll Learn If You Read This Whole Thing There have been five previous mass extinctions.We’re in the middle of the sixth.We evidently don’t know about 90 percent of the species on our planet.Knowing where babies come from is a relatively new thing.Humans aren’t that special. What if you really are nothing special?…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Bosslady is in Houston for a thing, so I’m leading our team meeting tomorrow.
- I want to see the deer out my home office window again.
- It’ll be fun to see how spectacularly bad Mizzou basketball is this year.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Monkey Crap 🐒BTY Day 👨👦Incomplete Stories 🖊️ If you’re of the belief that human beings evolved from apes, I’m not here to try to dissuade you. What I am here to say is that, if evolution is true, we sure have come a long way. I say this after a trip…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Personal Growth 🌱Mad Mom 😠Oh, Jeffrey 🧠 About a year ago, Arti The Wonder Therapist waited patiently for me to finish yet another of my amazing monologues detailing just how I felt about the various situations I was attempting to address in my life at the time and then calmly asked…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cue the Outrage 🔫Animal Extinction 🐆Eye Update 👀 Even back in the day when I considered myself a Republican (before the dark times … before the Trumpire), I never quite understood the death penalty. Perhaps it was because I looked around at the other nations that still killed people as punishment…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hello Darkness, My Old Friend 👀COVID Costs 🦠Jackass Jones Verdict👩⚖️ I’ve spent much of this week so far in forced darkness. After I wrote on Monday morning, my right eye started to get blurry. Then it got real blurry. Then it became utterly useless. In this, I have reprised my role…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. No. 5: I held an epic car concert If you were anywhere in the vicinity of my…Keep reading
🧩 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,…Keep reading
🧩 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.…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
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 email@example.com. No. 5: I reached out to a friend I have not been shy about sharing that I’ve…Keep reading
🧩 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.…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Agliata Homeschool Academy 🚌Hypnosis 😳Sunburn 🌞🔥 When you tell people you homeschool your children, you typically receive one of three responses: An enthusiastic: “Oh, that’s so cool!”An I’d-rather-be-dipped-in-acid: “Oh wow! I could never do that!” A you’re-one-of-those-weirdos: “Oh… really… homeschooling, huh?” The percentage for each has changed in the wake…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Indycar 🏎️Best Friends 😎Baseball Irony ⚾ There are certain people who look at car racing as an endless series of left turns. These people are idiots on whom nuance is lost. Boy The Elder and I crossed the border yesterday late-morning to head just past the fine city of East St.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Swine Inflation 🐖Swamp Thing 🎥Phone Calls 📱 Life was different when I went to college in Iowa after growing up in suburban New York City. This isn’t to suggest I was a city kid. I wasn’t. The city was a place we went to a few times a year, and where…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Triple-Threat 🖥️🖥️🖥️Tasmanian Tiger 🐅Video Work 📹 Humans were not meant to stare at laptop screens. At least, humans of a certain age were not meant to stare at laptop screens. I say this after successfully lobbying for a second monitor at work, which effectively turned my laptop screen into a third…Keep reading