United States of Inefficiency — Dec. 1, 2021


🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Maria and The Chickens 🐔
Strange Cyber Monday Offers 🧪
Bloody Gift 🩸🎁


I hate wasting time. I hate it hate it hate it. Everything about my life centers on efficiency — the routes I take when I drive, how I go about getting ready for the day, how I organize my work day, how I get ready for bed. I understand this probably crosses over into a bit obsessive, though certainly not obsessive-compulsive-disorderish because the reality of that is far more difficult to live with than my own efficiency eccentricities.

This makes me particularly vulnerable to losing my freaking mind when I’m dealing with people who are very much the opposite of me, and today was filled with those people.

A highlight reel of the bullshit I waded through today includes:

  • An unsuccessful attempt to roll the 401(k) from my previous job into my IRA because Wifey Poo has to print out a form, find a notary and sign it in front of him or her so then I can take a picture of the signed form with my phone and upload it to their website so they know I’m not trying to screw her out of the grand total of $1,366 that’s in the account by moving it to some secret offshore bank. All of that took two phone calls and 25 minutes on hold.
  • An unsuccessful attempt to roll the 401(k) from my previous previous job into my IRA because I moved. When the kind woman told me I had to change my address in their system first, I enthusiastically replied: “Great! Let’s get to it!” I was then informed I have to wait 10 days for my address change to be verified. Never mind the fact that I verified my identity through Social Security number, birthday and voice imprint. And never mind the fact I’m not asking them to mail me a check at any address — previous, current or imaginary; I’m asking them to mail the check directly to the guardians of my IRA, Merrill Lynch. This took three phone calls, including one during which I was disconnected the moment the hold music disappeared after a 25 minute wait and a man said, “May I help yo-….”
  • An unsuccessful attempt to pay my first month’s health insurance for 2022, a thing I need to do by Dec. 15 do per regulations of the U.S. gubment. It’s also a thing I very much want to do and a think I was very much prepared to do at that very moment. The kind woman at Cigna named Maria, who had chickens cock-a-doodle-dooing in the background for added effect, told me I needed to make the payment before Dec. 15, to which I replied, “Great! Let’s get to it!” before she then told me I couldn’t make the payment because no payment was due. “But there is a payment due. And today is before Dec. 15. So great! Let’s get to it!” to which she replied that we couldn’t get to it because it wasn’t the right amount of time before Dec. 15 and that I would have to call back when it was closer to Dec. 15. “Great. How much closer to Dec. 15?” I asked. “I don’t know the answer to that,” she replied in between a cock-a-doodle-doo. “Well can you find out the answer to that?” I asked. “I’m sorry, I cannot.”

I believe America is doomed for many, many, many reasons. We are the prototypical declining empire and have been for about two decades now. If and when we do fall, the horrible inefficiencies that beset honest citizens who have to take their eyes of their actual jobs for more than an hour to try to get done what should be easy life-things is going to be one of those reasons.


Cyber Monday was fun, wasn’t it? Of course, Cyber Monday has been going on since before Black Friday, which was going on since around Veteran’s Day. The strangest “Cyber Week” ad that landed in my inbox came from Quest Diagnostics, the company responsible for taking gallons of my Longhaul Covid-infused blood this year. It’s offering a 15% discount on all QuestDirect lab tests like health profiles and allergy screenings, if you use the code CYBER15. But hurry. This offer expires Dec. 10.


📚 Let’s Learn Something Together 📓🖊️

Did you know people are paying lots and lots of money for properties that don’t exist? It’s true. And I’m curious how it’s all going to play out in my industry — real estate.

It’s very easy to look at immersive meta experiences like Fortnight and it’s now-ancient predecessor Second Life and think of those who participate in at game-addicted kids and socially awkward weirdos. The reality, though, is that digital-currency investor Grayscale thinks the global market for goods and service in the metaverse will soon be worth $1 trillion-with-a-T dollars.

The metaverse is already filling up with entertainment-starved locked-down global citizens who, among other things, attended a live concert earlier this month by Justin Bieber during which the Beebs belted out songs from his hit album “Justice” while people admired his too-sexy avatar.

Real estate investors are now jumping into the metaverse game. If you’re particularly forward-thinking and technologically inclined, you see a metaverse that blossoms into a fully functioning economy — and you see the reality of that virtual reality coming soon. Those metaversians are going to need many things — meta clothes, meta music and, yes, meta places to hang out.

Which is what’s drawing very real commercial real estate investors to start snapping up meta properties. Two months ago, Tokens.com, a tech company focusing on metaverse real estate, bought 50% of Metaverse Group, one of the world’s first real estate companies, for about $1.7 million. That company is headquartered in the earth city of Toronto but has a much nicer setup in what it calls Decentraland in Crypto Valley. Think of it as meta’s version of Silicon Valley, but with districts for gambling and virtual shopping.

As I said, it’s easy to dismiss this. But with actual reality becoming more and more bleak (hello, Omicron) and the technology to pull all this off right on the meta doorstep, don’t for a second think this doesn’t have a shot of becoming a preferred reality for a whole lot of people. And where the people are, the money will follow.


The ‘What Did You Say?’ of the Day

‘We face genuine risk of bankruptcy if we cannot achieve a Starship flight rate of at least once every two weeks next year,’

Elon Musk, in a message to SpaceX employees about the future of the company

I hope I’m around when the definitive retrospective is written on Mr. Musk. I’m wondering if he’ll take his place in the pantheon of technology greats or be lumped in with the likes of P.T. Barnum. The jury seems to be very much still out.


Today was a slice-your-hand-open-on-a-Christmas-present-you-ordered-for-Boy-The-Elder-that-was-shattered-in-the-box-unbeknownst-to-you kind of day. I’m trusting tomorrow will be better.


In Other Writing …

It’s Not the Technology; It’s Us

It’s easy to say Facebook — sorry, Meta — is evil. They do such a good job of proving the point for us. They routinely violate their own privacy policies, they know what they do is bad for people and bad for society, and they lie when subpoenaed to testify before Congress because they know…

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Today’s Reasons to Keep Living

  1. Got a work conference in-person tomorrow. I wonder if the coffee’s gotten any better since The Great Plague shut these down.
  2. I spent much of the day thinking today was Tuesday. Little gifts like realizing you’re one day closer to the weekend than you thought are nice treats.
  3. Honey. I love honey.

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What’s Below 👇On being self-taught 📷The Bee Battle 🐝Ahhh, Ben Platt 🎶 I set up a little makeshift portrait studio today in a training room at my office. Lights, a backdrop — the color of which matches our new brand hue — and a tripod with my Nikon Z6. It all looked very fancy-shmancy. Here’s…

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Technology Sucks — Oct. 18, 2021

Human beings of the modern age like to think of themselves as the pinnacle of all creation. Of course, this is not necessarily new to the modern age. It wasn’t all that long ago that some of the brightest minds of their modern age — guys like Sir Isaac Newton — thought women got pregnant…

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Even a Bald Man Needs a Barbershop — Oct. 17, 2021

Being a bald man, I don’t have many reasons to be in a barbershop. And I miss barbershops. They are one of the few remaining oases for guys, and barbershop talk is fun. I took Boy The Younger to have his mop managed Saturday morning. Boy The Elder found Walt’s Barbershop a few years ago.…

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Infant Loss Awareness — Oct. 15, 2021

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, and even almost 21 years later, I’m not sure how I feel about it. So much of time is arbitrary. We screw it up so badly that we have to add a whole day every four years. So for me, today is just like any other day…

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Fourth State of Being — Oct. 14, 2021

There’s this state of being that’s not quite asleep, not quite dreaming but definitely not awake. That’s where I found myself Thursday evening at Livin’ Sublime Wellness, my little yoga studio in Wentzville. Restorative yoga is a lifesaver for me. If you haven’t tried it, you should. Not to sound all Hippie-Dippy or anything, but…

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Losing Weight Wasn’t the Goal — Oct. 13, 2021

A vegan, a person on a gluten-free diet, and a person who does Crossfit walk into a bar. How do I know? Because none of them would shut up about it. If you haven’t heard this joke before, you can probably relate. I know I can. I remember meeting Sarah on Day 1 at a…

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The Family Writer — October 9, 2021

The one thing I know how to do better than anything else is write. I love it. But it’s also sometimes very difficult. Because I know how to tell a story, I’m tapped to do so in trying times. I did so when my father-in-law died in January, writing his obituary and helping my beautiful…

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On Toilet Seats and Meat Thermometers — Oct. 8, 2021

I found it funny this morning to be walking through Kohl’s with a meat thermometer in my right hand and two toilet seats tucked under my left arm. There are some moments in life that are just serendipitous. Boy The Elder and Wifey Poo are indirectly responsible for this little portrait you now have in…

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Painful Playoff Baseball — Oct. 5, 2021

I’ve been a Yankees fan since I was a small boy. Some of my best memories were born in the old Yankee Stadium. It’s in my DNA to not like the Red Sox. I can think of no good reason to despise the Sawx or their fans, but I still am repulsed by their logo,…

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An All-Sports Weekend – Oct. 3, 2021

I once played in a baseball game in which it was raining so hard that, when I picked up a ball stuck in the mud in the middle of a puddle in a centerfield that resembled a shallow lake, it felt like I was throwing a shot-put to the second baseman 15 feet away. Today,…

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So. Damn. Tired — Sept. 28, 2021

Life sucks when you’re tired. I know this. I’ve lived this. A lot of people like to say they have insomnia. I used to say I had insomnia. Then I actually got insomnia. There’s a difference between a few nights of poor sleep and insomnia. Which isn’t to diminish a few nights of poor sleep.…

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The Finish Line — Sept. 27, 2021

The one-and-only competitive footrace I have ever won came during Field Day 1980 at Pound Ridge Elementary School in suburban New York. I was in kindergarten, on the green team, and was a part of the 50-meter dash. I remember being most fascinated that day by the starters’ pistol, wondering if it contained real bullets…

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Wifey Poo, The Super Finder — Sept. 26, 2021

I’m all about lists. I love making them. I love crossing things off on them. And it really annoys me when things I wanted to get done on a list don’t get done. I came into today with a lot of things left on my weekend to-do list. Rather than end the day annoyed, I…

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Kid Coupons – Sept. 25, 2021

Our boys are not “stuff” kids. We learned this early on, when Boy The Elder was but a wee little lad and we did what normal first-time parents do: Buy him a ton of what I call KidShit for Christmas. The KidShit went largely untouched. BTE, we learned, was more of an “experiences” kid. He…

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Dear Evan Hansen — Sept. 24, 2021

Tonight was date night for me and Wifey Poo. We swung by Stone Summit Steak & Seafood for a drink — she, a fruity white wine; me, a Woodford Reserve, neat — and then went to see Dear Evan Hansen. I’d wanted to catch it back when it was on the stage and never had.…

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Getting Married vs. Being Married — Sept. 23, 2021

One of the interesting truths about this whole “living” thing is that we make so many important decisions before we know what the hell we’re doing. For example, I chose my career path the same year I got my driver’s license. I had absolutely no concept of a mortgage and office politics and exactly how…

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I’m Legal! – Sept. 22, 2021

I have seen in person how protective a mother grizzly bear can be of her cubs. The Fam was on a two-week Alaska vacation between my seventh- and eighth-grade years, a trip on which my voice changed and I enjoyed the company of twin 14-year-old sisters from Alabama, which is a story for another day.…

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The Shirt-Jack is Back! – Sept. 21, 2021

I spent the morning in my office at work ensconced in my gray shirt-jack. If you don’t know what a shirt-jack is, that’s OK. I didn’t either until I found it on Amazon a few years ago while searching for something that wasn’t quite a sweatshirt but not quite a jacket to wear around the…

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FIL’s Day — Sept. 19, 2021

Today was all about my father-in-law, Marvin. FIL died in November following complications from heart surgery and COVID. Wifey Poo and the sisters-in-law organized an ice cream social and issued an open invitation to the family and FIL’s friends. When we set the date for late September, the thought was that we’d be past the…

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Lots of Thoughts on Life and Death — Sept. 18, 2021

The term “hot as balls” definitely applied to today, though I don’t know exactly what it means. It was parents weekend at Mizzou, so we traveled yesterday evening to see Boy The Elder and attend a football game today in which the Tigers took on the mighty Southeast Missouri State Somethingorothers. The game itself was…

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Hitler, Broken TVs and the DMV — Sept. 17, 2021

Me this morning, in GIF form: Folks, I try. I really do. But I’m worn thin. I got up and decided before starting a work-from-home day that I would attach the TV I just brought over from Old House to the new stand I bought. Easy-peasy. Hooked the wires up and turned it on. And…

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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…

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A New Old World – Sept. 13, 2021

Today was a work-from-home day, filled with the excitement of having my new office location set up. Well, sort of set up. For the past month, I have been relegated to the basement because what is to be my Mancave was jam-packed with the detritus from New Home’s previous occupants, my in-laws. But over the…

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To Coach, or Not to Coach? – Sept. 12, 2021

The score was 54-0 when I decided I would coach Boy The Younger’s basketball team the next season. After all, there wasn’t much room for me to do any worse. Still, this was a bold decision, considering the entirety of my team basketball experience came in one 3-4 season as a high school freshman on…

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Happy Hour Fatigue — Sept. 10, 2021

I’m what you call an ambivert. This doesn’t mean I eat both plants and animals, though I do. Rather, it means — among other things — that I’m somewhere in the middle between an introvert and an extrovert. Sometimes I refuel by getting away from people and enjoying my solitude. Sometimes I refuel by soaking…

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I Hate Robert Gaskins – Sept. 8, 2021

I spent a half-hour today renewing my hatred for Robert Gaskins. Don’t know who Robert Gaskins is? I wish I didn’t, too. Robert Gaskins is the principle inventor of PowerPoint. He sold his little tool of the devil to Microsoft in 1987. QAnon Crazies love to point the finger at Bill Gates and say he’s…

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Karens at the Cleaners – Sept. 7, 2021

I stopped at the cleaners on my way home from work to pick up a pair of khaki pants that had an unfortunate run-in with honey a few weeks back. As I stepped through the door, a middle-aged woman named Karen (I’m assuming, anyway) was finishing up berating the lone employee. It had something to…

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Tony’s The Man – Sept. 6, 2021

You’re a Wizard, Harry When the Great Awakening of Societal Selfishness began in 2020, Wifey-Poo, Boy The Younger and I began reading the Harry Potter books out loud to help pass quarantine time in a way that didn’t involve baking bread or killing each other. It took more than a year, but we finished the…

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Organization Skillz – Sept. 5, 2021

Kitchen Completed It is laughable even to me that I find myself, at age 47, really good at organizing stuff. I am the grizzled aging man with more salt than pepper in his beard who at a different stage of life had to bulldoze a path through dirty clothes, random school stuff and assorted other…

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Why Exactly Am I Here? — Sept. 4, 2021

Sometimes Things Be That Way There are some days that, when night falls and you take stock of all that happened, you just say — or at least think — “Well good goddamn. What the fuck was that all about?” Today has been such a day. I look back at the waking hours and realize…

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Work Drinkin’ – Sept. 3, 2021

I’ll Drink to That Since my departure from newspapers in 2009, I’ve worked for very conservative not-for-profit organizations. An electric cooperative. A Lutheran benefits provider. A pediatric orthopedic hospital. None ever encouraged me to post photos on our social media of employees drinking during the workday. But that happened to me today following our champagne-tasting…

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Bringing the Heat – Sept. 2, 2021

An Impressive K Boy the Younger got shelled on the pitcher’s mound last night. As a former pitcher myself, I know these things sometime happen. No one squared up on any pitch he threw. They just hit it where his guys weren’t. And this should happen to him. He’s playing up an age group and…

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Me and the Chinese Government – Aug. 31, 2021

I Parent Like China It pleased me a great deal to share with Boy The Younger this morning that the rules he lives under are similar to those imposed on kids by the Chinese government. Our Communist Owners recently banned whippersnappers younger than 18 from playing online video games on school nights and allow them…

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Dying Less is Good — Aug. 30, 2021

Dying Less I think we can all agree that it’s not exactly a good thing to stop breathing more than 53 times an hour while we’re sleeping, yes? OK, good. There’s at least one thing that isn’t divisive in this country right now. When I had my first sleep study in February, I was not…

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An Emotional Day – Aug. 29, 2021

Believing in Myself So here’s the thing: I have amazing intuition. Believe what you want about humans having only five senses. We don’t. We have more. And for me, one of my strongest senses is my gut feelings about what to do and not to do. I’ve had this ability since I was a small…

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Squeal For Me, Piggy – Aug. 28, 2021

Road Show Coming to you live from somewhere in the Ozarks, where I’m hoping not to hear banjos and have some inbred redneck hillbilly make me squeal for him. Wifey-Poo and I are in the middle of a weekend getaway. It has been a long while since we’ve had an extended period of time to…

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Storm Brewing – Aug. 27, 2021

And the Thunder Rolls My desk at my new office faces out to a busy street – Manchester Avenue – and has a floor-to-ceiling window. I’m absolutely loving it. At my previous job, my desk was tucked away in a corner behind a cube. I called it “My Hovel.” It was a good place to…

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A State of Bliss – Aug. 24, 2021

Namaste, yo I found myself tonight in a state somewhere between awake and asleep, lying on a yoga mat with 40 pounds of sandbags on my shoulders and chest in a dimly lit studio as soft music tinged by rain sounds caressed my ears. I love this state, and I’ve only found it through meditation…

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House For Sale – Aug. 23, 2021

Sell This House Our house hit the market today, which is to say the Great Gods of Google allowed for it to be found by Realtors and anyone else who happens to have a larger-than-average nosy bone. Our Realtor said we could share it with our friends and family. I was trying to think of…

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Cheers to No-Drama Family – Aug. 21, 2021

Stages of Life Over the years, I’ve found tremendous comfort in the stability of my in-law family, especially with my sisters-in-law and, as time has progressed, their husbands. My own family is pocked by constant drama. It took me a long time to recognize exactly how not-typical my own family is and to realize that…

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QAnon Crap – Aug. 19, 2021

Wakey Wakey My day started off with a bag-full of my blood being drained, filled with ozone and then dripped back into my while I listened to a cancer patient banter about QAnon insanity as if it were gospel with the nurse in charge of my treatment. How was your morning? So Long, Sonny Boy…

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Really Bad Movies – Aug. 17, 2021

Interesting Things You Say to Your Spouse “Please don’t get killed by anyone using a sharp object. I don’t want to go to prison for the rest of my life.” This sentence that I said to Wifey-Poo this morning makes sense if you have a spouse who loves murder podcasts and TV shows. My hands…

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Using My Brain — Aug. 16, 2021

Welcome to the World of Real Estate Starting a new job today was a welcome relief from the drudgery of moving. After getting my ass kicked yesterday in the Great Fridge Swap, I welcomed the opportunity to use my brain instead of whatever physical power I might have left. This is the first time I’m…

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