🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Spice-Lovin’ Tree Shrew 🌶️
Mark The Freaking Elf 🧝
I spent the morning in a hotel conference room down in STL learning from a man named Jeff Glover about 21 ways to get 21 listing of homes to sell. Glover is a big fish in the real estate industry. He runs a massive real estate team outside Detroit, Michigan. I had some key takeaways that will help me be a better real estate marketing guy. But I think the biggest thing I walked away with is confirmation that all this stuff I’ve done since I started with The Allen Brake Team in August is spot-on and that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to successful marketing.
I say that because after the conference, I realized I was right near one of my old employers. When I walked out of that place for the last time back in January 2020, I was in many ways a broken man professionally — and personally. Through a variety of circumstances, I’d allowed myself to believe I was nothing when it came to creativity and marketing. That was a huge blow to me because I had spent my entire life thinking I was this wildly creative person, a guy who had developed a marketing process to get results. I’d done it in newspapers, increasing revenue and profitability by double digits annually for a small weekly paper while the rest of the industry collapsed. I’d done it with electric cooperatives, writing the book on how to use social media during the crisis of a major storm outage.
And then I came to that employer. By the time I was chewed up and spit out, I thought I had nothing to offer. It took me about 10 months for me to realize that, at best, my brand of creativity simply wasn’t what that particular audience needed (though I’d debate that today) and, at worst, that the people running that marketing department wouldn’t be able to recognize an inspirational, creative idea if it bit them in the ass.
I limped into my next gig following the worst of the pandemic and the Thing That I Cannot Confirm Exists That Paid Me A Lot Of Money To Sit At Home And Do Puzzles and Bake Bread and Play X-Box not knowing who the hell I really was. Put in a position to run the marketing department for Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis, I figured I had not very much to lose and a whole lot to prove.
So I proved it. And I’m proud of that.
I say that here not out of ego or arrogance but because the journey from the day I walked out of that place to today has been long, painful and, ultimately, extremely rewarding.
So after the conference, I drove through the parking lot of my former employer. I saw a familiar face returning from lunch. I recognized a few cars of people who hadn’t been able to see a damn thing in me or understand what I could have done for them. I noticed the spot where I’d parked my car on that last day with the tense meeting that resulted in my freedom and kicked off my redemption. I realized at that moment how different the person was who was traveling through that parking lot compared to the one who was there a few Januarys ago.
I understand the redemptive power of forgiveness. I know I should let that shit go. I know I should simply take solace in the fact that what I knew I could do there is working so well here and worked so well at Shriners, too. That should be all I need to write those folks off and move on.
But yeah, if I had to admit it, there’s still a part of me that hopes that department goes belly-up and that those who were so cold and callous to me get to experience a dose of their own medicine one day.
What can I say? I’m fallible when it comes to forgiveness.
Anyone else’s mind go to really bad places when they start to feel sick these days? I have what I’m pretty sure is just a cold. I’m also three injections to the plus side when it comes to the vaccine. But as I feel whatever it is clogging my ears and giving me the sniffles, a part of me thinks it’s the big one, Elizabeth. Ahhhh, these unprecedented times …
📚 Let’s Learn Something Together 📓🖊️
Did you know there are only two known animals on the planet that like spicy foods? It’s true.
We’re one of them. The other, if you believe a study by Chinese researchers, is the tree shrew. They have a mutation in their ion channel receptor TRPV1 — which, while I don’t have a clue what that is, sounds pretty badass — that makes it less sensitive to the chemicals that make chili peppers taste “hot.”
And if you’re wondering what the hell a tree shrew looks like, here … you’re welcome.
Wifey Poo and I have had a deal since the time Boy The Elder was just Boy The Only: I talk to the kids about sex; she tells them about Santa. This worked fine with BTE. Yet here we are, with Boy The Younger 12 years old, and we’re not quite sure exactly what he believes when it comes to Jolly Old Saint Nick.
When Wifey Poo finally got around to smartening up BTE, we learned he’d been well aware of the greater truth of Christmas for at least a year. But BTY? He’s got such an innocence about him that it’s quite possible, even in the midst of friends and family who I’m sure have made comments, he could still be thinking a fat man in a flying sleigh is coming in a few weeks.
And that’s not the problem. Hey, if he wants to believe that, great. Childhood innocence doesn’t last for ever.
The problem is Mark.
Mark is our Elf on a Shelf. For years now, Wifey Poo and I have been moving that damn thing around during the month of December in the various houses in which we’ve lived. Moving actually helps. It gives you new staging points.
For a while, this was my job. And being the creative sort that I am, I set up some elaborate displays. But now? Well, Wifey Poo and I are having a standoff. Since she won’t tell the boy about Santa, moving Mark is on her. At least, that’s what I say. The reality is that she and I often go to bed before BTY because we’re old, and I’m the only one who gets up before he does. So tonight we learned how to send a pre-scheduled text message so she can ding me with a reminder at 6 a.m. every day to move the damn elf.
Curses to whoever invented that stupid thing.
The ‘What Did You Say?’ of the Day
May the person who invented the open-workspace workplace suffer from months of agonizing boils in sensitive places. Trying to apply a one-size-fits-all approach in any workplace ignores the obvious reality that, hey, get this — people are different! I understand it’s hard to cater to every individual’s needs, but to not take the time to get to know those individuals whom you hired because you thought they’d be great (!!!!) and find a way to provide them their optimal work environment is a huge sign you’re a manager and not a leader.
High Five ✋
Today’s official endorsement goes to Chris Stapleton’s “Whiskey and You.” I’m a weirdo who truly feels music more than he hears it, and this one got me tonight.
One’s the devil
One keeps driving me insane
At times I wonder
If they ain’t both the same
One’s a liar
That helps to hide me from my pain
And one’s the long gone bitter truth
That’s the difference between whiskey and you
In Other Writing …
Here’s a working world truth: Just about anyone can become a manager, but only a small percentage of people can be effective leaders. Stick around a company long enough or apply for the right positions and show an ounce of charisma, and you’ll probably get an opportunity to be a manager. Suddenly, you’ll have actual…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Wifey Poo and I have a date on Saturday. Bumper cars on ice at Forest Park in the STL!
- I’m on elf duty, apparently.
- Next week’s D&D game is gonna be LIT.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Christmas Video 🎥Fighting The Big Boss 🥊Roland The Farter 🍑💨 I spent much of the day making a video for my job with The Allen Brake Team. I shot the footage a few weeks ago, and today was the day to identify the clips to actually use, assemble them, find the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩No-Phone Sunday 🚫📱Creepy Moles 🐀Doc Talk 📽️ Today was sort of a practice day for something I put on my “Hundred Things” list for 2022. It was a Digital Detox Sunday, which is No. 63 on the list. To me, this meant that I wouldn’t have any sort of device in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Trombones are Loud 🎺Birds Aren’t Real 🐦Death to Gymnastic Judges 🤸 Top 5 things that happened at In-Law Family Christmas, held at our humble country home, today. The realization that the mass of youngins has gotten so large now that our little babies have grown up to various new stages that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hey There, Dorothy 🌪️Christmas Hurts 🎄Bye-Bye, Checks and Balances ✔️⚖️ If you’re ever in need of some entertainment, might I suggest being in a church with a bunch of homeschool parents when tornado sirens go off? That’s where I found myself tonight, accompanied by Boy The Younger at a spring track…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Car Crash 🚗Video Day 🎞️Five No. 2s!? 💩 The Core 4 is headed out on a winter vacation to Memphis and New Orleans soon. The plan was to rent a vehicle through Turo.com, which is kinda like an Airbnb for cars. I had a quality vehicle picked out and reserved, one…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shirt Stain 👔Score One for the Unabomber💣Oh Canada 🌈🍁 I arrived at work this morning, put my stuff down on my desk and hit the men’s room because evidently a 42-minute drive is too long for a man of 47 years to comfortably hold his bladder. I did what I do,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Baseball God(ess) ⚾Alice in Chains 🎸What About the Golfers!? 🏌🏽♂️ To say that baseball was my life when I was a kid is an understatement. I watched it as much as the scant channels we had at home would allow — the Yankees were on Channel 11 WPIX and the (ugh)…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Detached 💭Intentions for a New Year 📆Red is Deadly 😷 Today sucked. The problem is, I don’t really know what the hell happened. I woke up just after 6, later than I have been recently, and I felt so significantly off that I truly don’t remember much of the first 45…Keep reading
Circles are interesting things. They have no beginning and no end. They just keep going around and around and around. And yet we set Jan. 1 as the day to mark the start of our journey around the sun, a journey we measure so incredibly poorly that we have to add an entire extra day…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ice Violence ⛸️Movie Night! 📽️Most Popular Dog Names 🐶 Today was date day for Wifey Poo and I. We’ve been trying to do a date a week since, oh, back in 2018. That was interrupted for awhile by a certain African host child this year, but we’re back at it. Today…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Top Songs of 2021 🎶Where’s the Snow? ❄️Thunder Struck ⛈️🏀 Because I didn’t already feel incredibly old and out of touch, I looked at the list of top 100 songs from 2021. It wasn’t until song No. 65 that I even thought I knew one of the songs, “Go Your Own…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Paul 🧙♂️Slowest Speeder Ever 🐢Another School Shooting 🏫🔫 I found myself tonight in a dark jail cell surrounded by four zombies, some kind of wizard, and my son. This is not what I expected for my Tuesday evening. After a months-long absence, I returned tonight to the Dungeons & Dragons game…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Canadian Oil 🍁Freaking Covid 😷Namaste, Yo 🧘🏿 Monday started out with the news that the Bosslady has Covid. This whole “living through The Great Plague” thing somehow has been incorporated into our lives to the point where we don’t really even realize that thousands of people are dying from it daily.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Disconnected 🔌Worst Mom Ever 🦘Death to Autoplay 💀 Internet outage, Day 2. I’m sending this message via carrier pigeon. Or maybe it’s just some bird I caught with my greasy-fast speed. Things are looking bleak. We’ve been without internet service for more than 24 hours now. The weather outside is cold,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Family Rituals 👨👩👦👦The Grinch Rocks ❤️Churros and Poke Bowls 🤤 It’s interesting to think about how family rituals actually become family rituals. There are some that are very intentional. You had something done for you as a child, so you do the same thing for your kid. Others just sort of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stable Family 👪Armed America 🔫🦅Good or Nickelback? 🎶 Thanksgiving was a quiet affair for the Core Four — my nickname for the entity that is Wifey Poo, Boys The Elder and Younger, and me. We had no family visit, and none of us left the house until BTE traveled to his…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Coffee With Wifey ☕👱♀️Armadillo Lepers 😳Choice Cigar 🚬 To say Wifey Poo and I have been through some shit is an understatement. When we said “I do” back in March of 1997 as freaking twenty-two-year-olds (!!!!), neither of us had a clue how challenging the “or for worse” part of a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Self-Teaching 👨🏫Beer Flood 🍺🌊Space Mission 🚀 When I left the newspaper industry in 2009, I knew how to write, take decent photos, design pages and copy edit. I landed a job in which the mandate was, “Go make our communications program better,” something I’d assured those who interviewed me I knew…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beard Trim 🧔🏽Grunge Shopping 🛒Funny Animals 🐒 When you find yourself with a straight razor poised a millimeter from your neck, you realize this is probably what was going on when the Almighty said “Be still and know that I am God.” I found myself in this situation this morning, in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Wifey Poo’s Laughter 🤣Expensive Turkey 🦃🍗My Boys 👨👦 Walking back to my car last night from The Funny Bone comedy club in St. Charles, I got to thinking. This comes as a surprise to no one who knows me (not many people, as I’ve recently discussed) and no one who reads…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Drinking on the Job 🍷The Land of the Giants 🏀Joseph McCarthy Returns 🏴 It the past week, my job has taken me from a chocolate factory to a wine bar — all in the name of business, of course. Last week, Big Bosslady and I visited Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate, which is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Itchy Foot 🦶Pay Cuts ❌💰The Best Pen Ever 🖊️ Wifey Poo woke up around 4 a.m. itching, itching, itching her recently repaired foot. Underneath the Ace bandage and the gauze and the padding to keep it safe, she’s got a rash of some sort, and the foot is swollen. Doc says…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Warm November 🌡️The Jaguar People 🐆Squid Game 🦑 I’ll take a 70 degree day in the middle of November, thank you very much. I spent part of my workday on my back deck doing the things I do for my real estate team — social media ads, flyers to promote open…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Oh Deer 🦌The Thought Gap 🧠Unplugged 🔌 I was sitting in my as-yet-to-be-named home office this morning when this big boy ☝️☝️☝️ walked out of the woods into my yard. It’s the opening day of deer season in Missourah, a day of significance for many local inhabitants on par with their…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Picnic in November 🥶Happy Wife 👩Pour-Over Coffee ☕ Scheduling a picnic outside in Missouri in November seemed to me to be a very gutsy call. That’s until I stopped to realize who was scheduling it — Boy The Younger’s cross country team. These folks run everywhere, and, thus, I assume are…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hoops at Twain’s House 🏀Lunch With The Big Bosslady 🥪Breaking Up Is Efficient 💔 After a long week of work, I traveled north this evening with Boy The Younger for his second hoops game of the season. I missed the first because of an early start time, but this one was…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Gross Photos 📷Sand? Sand!? ⏳Sleeping With Cheese 🛏️🧀 I had major ankle surgery back in 2008 to essentially reconstruct my left foot, which had a nasty propensity to roll over without the rest of my leg accompanying it on the journey. After a four-hour operation and two weeks, I went back…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Pizza Visit 🍕French Fry Vodka 🍟🥃Let’s All Move to Portugal ✈️ We were surprised at dinner time last night with the sight of a kid who’s really no longer much of a kid. Matthew, who’s been Boy The Elder’s friend since the two weren’t even toddling, stopped by, pizzas in hand.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Death List ☠️Doctor Day 🩺Stay Calm, Be Confident 🧘 Sometimes the internet does something useful. For example, in the early days, there was the site that was nothing but The Hamster Dance. I’m not making that up, kiddos. The only thing this website had was The Hamster Dance. Don’t believe me?…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩What Makes a Sloth a Sloth? 🦥Launch Day is Nigh 🚀Talkin’ Free Speech 🎙️ I find myself going down some interesting rabbit holes lately. For example, tonight I wondered why exactly sloths are so slow and how exactly such a creature could survive in a survival-of-the-fittest world, especially when they live…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Good Morning, Bank of America, How Are Ya? 🎮Woods Walk 🌲🌲🌲Big Bird’s a Commie ☭ I awoke this morning to a text from Bank of America about potentially fraudulent charges on my debit card. “Pshaw,” thought I. “Probably just a scam.” So I stumbled into the kitchen, made my coffee and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cute Pic, Dumb Response 📷A Musical Connection 🎵A Time-Change Analogy ⌚ My first solo venture into Costco today did not end up in familial bankruptcy, surprisingly. Oh, it could have. It just didn’t. I walked right past the $40 slabs of ribs and steered clear of the $2,000 monster TV that…Keep reading