‘The Plan’ — Dec. 20, 2021


🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Plague Life 😷
The Real Plan 😭
A Hilarious Obituary 🤣☠️


Does it ever randomly smack you in the face that we’re living through a historic freaking pandemic? Are you ever going about what you might fool yourself into believing is your Before Times life and then suddenly something jolts you out of your carefully crafted innocence to remind you that, oh yeah, millions of people have died and society as we knew it is in the midst of a shift to something none of us knows but is surely different from what it was before? Do you ever feel the undercurrent of panic/fear/anxiety that is coursing just beyond what the acknowledged five senses can detect, that thing that sort of pops its head up for a brief second from time to time and disappears again before you can Whac-A-Mole it back down?

Just me?


My first son, Boy The Eldest, would have turned 21 today. He lived a few short hours on Dec. 20, 2000. For years and years and years, I allowed myself to believe that this was somehow part of the much-heralded “Plan” of the creator of all things. I listened and took to heart the sage wisdom of people who said that Jacob’s death was a part of The Plan and that the author of said plan works all things for good. And I nodded and smiled and believed it because it was said convincingly and repetitively by people I loved, admired and respected.

Twenty-one years later, I lean more toward the camp of thinking there might not necessarily be a Plan, that it’s certainly not The Plan those others were talking about, and that if The Plan includes the death of my son to accomplish some sort of mysterious good that no one can articulate with any sort of “beyond a reasonable doubt” or even “preponderance of the evidence” proof, well, maybe that plan kinda sucks.

I’m sorry. I’ve tried. Hard. But I just can’t seem to wrap my head around a concept of an all-knowing, all-loving God who can do all things to accomplish whatever the heck he/she/it wants but chooses to do it by the means we, in the midst of our worst grief and loss, credit him with. Put a different way, if God’s way to accomplish The Plan is partially done through the death of my son at the age of 4 hours, I don’t want to be a part of it.

Not wanting to appear selfish, I’ll add this: If God wants to accomplish The Plan through your cancer or your husband’s brutal car accident or the Modern Day Plague or your boyfriend cheating on you with your sister or that prolonged and financially debilitating hospital stay for an impossible-to-diagnose illness, why do you want to be a part of said Plan? To earn an eternal existence with the author of this Plan? To avoid a much ballyhooed permanent vacation to the fires of a hell not really mentioned with any urgency or specificity in any holy text of the adherents of the faith who are cautioning you to stick with The Plan?

My reality today is this: I don’t know why Jacob died so quickly. Not cosmically speaking, anyway. Medically speaking, it was because, at an early point in his development into a human child — when he was perhaps no bigger than a grain of rice, cells divided incorrectly and a head-of-a-pin-sized blockage formed in his bladder that caused stuff that needed to go out to stay in, and that stuff did so much damage that life outside of the womb was an impossibility at the time he was born because no one dedicated to making sure babies don’t die had figured out how to fix what he had. Someday, they might. But that will do Jacob nor anyone who loved him any good.

Beyond that, what I know with crystal clear certainty is that I saw some amazing things during the time Jacob was with us — and no, I’m not just talking about those few hours on Dec. 20, 2000.

  • I saw the incredible strength and bravery of Wifey Poo, who endured — among the many, many unfathomable hardships during this time — having footlong needles jabbed into her taut belly in an attempt to make womb life a little bit easier for our son.
  • I saw people who came from a variety of different backgrounds and a variety of different faiths all aligned for the same purpose, exhibiting this often-hard-to-find thing called unity.
  • I was the beneficiary of the love and practical support of people who realized it is woefully inadequate, a pious cop-out and ultimately insignificant to merely say “I’m praying for you” and who instead demonstrated how we often are equipped to be the answer to our own prayers if we’d just get up off our knees and stop simply praying for people in the midst of a daily, earthly hell.
  • I saw that belief in this savior or that god or this ritual or that style of prayer didn’t amount to a hill of beans in terms of changing the outcome we were alerted to as the very real possibility four months before Jacob breathed his first breath, but that what did matter was the common goodness of people from all faiths and all walks of life in holding up two young parents who were shattered by their everyday reality.

So if you’re asking me if I believe in God or the existence of a Plan, yes, yes I do. It’s just far different from the God and The Plan that people tend to espouse when they see people confronted with the waking reality of nightmares so bad they didn’t even know such things were possible.


So based on the two items I’ve written about today, would it surprise you if I said I’m not doing too well right now? I have made a life out of getting back up after being knocked down. I have no strength right now to get into the details about the ingredients that baked up this life, but trust me, I come by it honestly — and with more than just a small part of the blame resting on my own shoulders. I have yet to encounter the thing that will break me to the point that I can’t get back up again, and considering the variety and severity of things that have knocked me down, well, I’m pretty proud of that.

That said, I sure as hell would like to find a little more easily navigable path through life for a while. Give me a year. Maybe even two. I’m under no illusion that my world or the world or anyone’s world has been or ever will be smooth sailing. I’m not looking for smooth. Smoother? Yes. Let’s have a little bit more of that and a little bit less of this …


📚 Let’s Learn Something Together 📓🖊️

Did you know the “Like” button that’s now such an integral part of life was originally called the Awesome button? It’s true.

And its impact on society has been anything but awesome. Again, as I’ve written, this does not mean that the Like button is bad or good. It’s neither. It simply is. How we’ve come to perceive the importance of others clicking it or not clicking it in relation to the things we post is the problem.

The absence of enough clicks in comparison to the total on the content posted by others with whom we compare ourselves sets off some nasty triggers in our brains — particularly if said brains are encased in the skulls of teenagers or others prone to massive insecurities. The results have been societally catastrophic. Increases in suicide, depression, anxiety, bullying, the spread of false information and a whole host of other social maladies can all be correlated with the goddamn Awesome button.

(Oh, and before you’re done, please like and subscribe to this blog…)


The ‘What Did You Say?’ of the Day

‘Renay was also sadly preceded in death by her beloved daughter, Cathy Sue Corren Lester Trammel Webster, of Kill Devil Hills, NC, who herself was preceded in death by two marriages, a fudge shop and one eyeball lost in a near-fatal Pepsi bottle incident that will absolutely be explored in future obituaries.’

Obituary of REnay Mandel Corren, printed in the fayetteville Observer, dec. 15, 2021

And if you don’t take the time to read the rest of this obituary, you’re doing yourself a disservice.


In Other Writing …

It’s Not the Technology; It’s Us

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Today’s Reasons to Keep Living

  1. I’m off work today to do some last-minute Christmas shopping and other assorted fun.
  2. C4 Holiday Road Trip commences soon!
  3. I have to a list of 100 things I want to get done in 2022.

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sticker with text have a nice day

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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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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Homeschoolin’ — August 22, 2022

🧩 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…

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Mexican Pato O’Ward — August 21, 2022

🧩 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.…

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Pig Problem — August 19, 2022

🧩 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…

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Three-Screen Guy — August 17, 2022

🧩 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…

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Orange Coffee — August 16, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Look Before Brewing ☕Hoop Construction 🏀Nuclear War ☢️ If you’d like an indication of how much of a Monday yesterday was for me, know that I ended up with an orange in my coffee. Well, to be fair, it wasn’t a full-blown orange. It was something called a Cutie, which is…

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Cemetery Wandering — August 14, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Date 🪦Nature Walk🌳Bulldog Bath 🐶 If you have a date walking around a cemetery, you’re either weird or goth, and neither Wifey Poo nor I were wearing black today, which I guess tells you all you need to know about us. Old cemeteries are something of a fascination for us,…

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Bye-Bye, BTE — August 13, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩So Long, Kid 👨‍👦Steak Celebration🥩Chip & Joanna 🪚 Regular readers of my drivel know that I’m kind of an emotional guy, which is like saying that Jack kind of could have fit on the spacious floating door with Rose in Titanic. So it should come as no surprise when I say…

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The Taxman Cometh — August 12, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cash 4 IRS 💰Cash 4 Workers 💸Sound of Silence 🤫 Be extra careful on your taxes this year. The IRS is expected to receive nearly $80 billion when The Inflation Reduction Act eventually becomes law, and its plan is to hire 87,000 full-time workers. More than half of the $80 billion…

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Peanut Man — August 10, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Spoon Nose 🥄👃🏻Dump Truck 🚚Twitter Traitor 🐦 Every night, I strap a mask attached to a long hose to my face so I don’t die. Not satisfied with looking kinda like an idiot, I then wrap a flexible Velco-enabled strap around my chin and fasten it on top of my bald…

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Rivalry — August 8, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Thanks, Yankees ⚾Kitchen Moment 👩‍🍳McDonald’s Glasses 🥛 Wifey Poo and I were recent college graduates and months away from becoming Married Folk when our relationship nearly faced its greatest test. The New York Yankees were rolling toward their first World Series appearance since I played with Matchbox Cars, and the St.…

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Fossil Fun — August 6, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mammoth Dilemma🦣Zombie Pigs🧟🐖Stadium Pals⚾ Finding the fossilized remains of a Wooly Mammoth in New Mexico isn’t exactly news. It seems the furry elephants loved to hang out in the land so frequently visited by aliens. What is news is the condition of the fossils from the latest find. Some of the…

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Hit By Pitch — August 3, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ankle Shot 🦶🏻Teamwork 🤝🏽Talkspace Stupidity 🤪 Over the years, I’ve played catch with Boy The Younger dozens and dozens of times. From those early days of him aimlessly flinging an oversized soft thing a few feet forward, to now when he’s zipping a real baseball the regulation distance from a pitching…

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Empty — August 1, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Creative Desert 🎨So Long, Supra 🏎️Taco Truck 🌮 I have absolutely nothing today. On most days — even the really, really bad days — I can push out something creatively worthwhile. A blog post. A flyer. A video. Not today. Today I have jack shit. This is professionally problematic, considering my…

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Frog Dive — July 31, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hungry=Stupid 😋Strategic Planning 📅Bed Sizes 🛏️ Hunger is a strong motivator. This, most of us know. Yet I witnessed this truth at a whole new level this weekend. Wifey Poo and I traveled up to Hannibal, Missourah, for a few days. Hannibal, for you uncultured folks, is the hometown of Mark…

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Cyclical Forces — July 29, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Change 🌀Me, Different 😷Bad Baseball ⚾ I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Most everything in humanity is governed by two intertwined forces. Supply and demand. Scarcity. Whether its the economy or human emotions, everything about us is geared toward responding to these two things. For example, when there…

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Hypocrisy — July 28, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Double Standards 🦅Birthday Deals 🎁Video Guy 📹 The United States has a problem with hypocrisy. Don’t worry, though; it’s nothing new. It just happens to be glaringly apparent right now. Our revered Founding Fathers got things off on a really bad foot when they penned the lofty statement that all men…

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Birthday Eve — July 27, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Revolution 🌍Rain 🌧️Refund 💰 By this time tomorrow, I will have completed 48 trips around the sun. Or is it 47 and I’ll be starting my 48th? Whatever. I’ll be 48 years old tomorrow. I have to admit, I’m feeling kinda blah about it. Looking back, this past revolution was busy…

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Angry Weather — July 26, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bitchy Mother Nature 🌧️⚡Tech Woes 🖥️Maturation 👦 Overnight storms made for a restless night, as waves of rain and thunder rolled through our section of Missourah. Flash flood warnings pinged my phone sometime in the middle of the night, and by the time I left for my drive to work, eastbound…

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Big-Drop Thoughts — July 25, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Rollercoasters 🎢Sad Puppy 🐶News Roundup 🤖 It’s possible to think a lot of thoughts while plummeting 90 feet at a 90-degree angle while staring up at the sun. This I learned yesterday while at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missourah, with the Core Four, Div, Wifey Poo’s baby sister and baby…

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Branson — July 24, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Date Day 🤟🏽Prison Justice 👊Universe Questions 🚀 Wifey Poo and I ended up having more than 12 hours to ourselves yesterday here in the Midwest Redneck Mecca of Branson, Missourah. Boys The Elder and Younger, along with BTE’s lovely girlfriend of nearly three years, and Wifey Poo’s baby sister and family…

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Told Ya — July 22, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩WFH WTF? 🧑‍💼Rebel Ball ⚾Psych Myth 🧠 As a writer/columnist/blogger/thought-spewer, I always enjoy when I get something out there before anyone else. I dug that when I was a newspaper journalist, and I dig it now. That’s why I’m happy to be hearing national publications and sites like Business Insider starting…

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The Muricahn Way — July 20, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Fahrenheit 🌡️Blindingly White ⬜Alone Time 👴 Muricah is very much a reactionary nation. Much of what we do and who we are is because we were pissed off about the way someone else did things. Monarchy? We’ll have a democracy, thank you very much. The metric system? We’ll measure stuff our…

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Baseball News — July 19, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Tryouts ⚾BBQ Sauce🍖TMNT🐢 There is cause for celebration in the Core Four: Boy The Younger has been drafted. Sadly, we’re not talking about the ongoing Major League Baseball draft. Rather, we’re talking about the sick modern world of Little League baseball. Not to get too “Get off my lawn!” on you,…

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Brakes & Boxes — July 18, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Growth 💗Dreams 💤Redecorating 🛋️ There are moments in a dad’s life in which he can see the growth of his sons quite clearly. Sometimes that growth is physical. One day, Boy The Elder was a short, stocky little boy and then, boom, he came home from his high school job at…

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Firestarter— July 17, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Burn Pit🔥Alaska Ass🍑Nose Hair🐽 Having a plan is a far different thing from having a plan work out. I’m really good at the former, yet the latter seems to be extremely elusive. Yesterday, my plan was to take the huge pile of chopped-down cedar-tree limbs that have been in my backyard…

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Future Wife — July 16, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Jewel💎First Kiss💋Slow Ahead🐢 Wifey Poo and I are headed out into the sweltering hell that is Missourah this evening to see the woman who, should she knock on my door and say “let’s go,” I am fully empowered to join in the next part of life’s journey. I jest. Sort of.…

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Population Growth — July 15, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Parenthood 🚓Alexa 📋Quick-Hitters 👋 Just about every statistic imaginable tells us we shouldn’t have kids — at least, not if we’re concerned about our own happiness, mental health, marriage, career, finances, time or ability to buy a really boss car instead of a freaking minivan. Yet here we are, still a…

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Ouchy Obituary — July 13, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Lawrence Pfaff Sr. Sucks 🚓Engagement Talk 🌯Quick-Hitters 👋 From what I know of Lawrence H. Pfaff Sr. of Belmont, NY, he was kind of a douche. The 81-year-old man died on June 27. I never met him. Never even heard of him. Until I read his obit. And about that obit?…

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HOV Lane — July 11, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Travelling Companion🚓Free Beans 🌯Unfollowed 👋 Brandy Bottone is either stupid or brilliant. Whichever it is, she’s also right. The Texas woman was traveling in the HOV lane — which, for the country folk out there, stands for High Occupancy Vehicle and is reserved for cars with two or more people to…

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Gamblin’ With The Judester— July 10, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Slots 🎰Dude Perfect ⚽Bye Bye Facebook? 👋 My mother-in-law (AKA The Judester) is nearly 81 years old and has knee problems that keep her from getting around too well these days. Watching her stand up from a chair is to feel pain yourself. Yet when I walked into the Ameristar casino…

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Grandma — July 8, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Reflections on Grandma 👵Kids & Death 👨‍👦‍👦Don’t Say It 🤫 My grandma died yesterday, four days shy of her 96th birthday. As it goes with people at that age, it wasn’t a surprise. She had been fading for more than a year and, though she still was breathing, that version of…

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Unproductive — July 6, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sleepwalking 🧨DnD Gang 🎲Gas Idiots 🛢️ If there were a day-by-day measure of the collective output of workers in these here United States of Amuricah (and for all I know, there is), I would venture to guess that July 5 ain’t our most productive day. I base this on my observations…

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Stuck By Patriotism — July 4, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stupid Parade 🧨Math Matters ➗What Amazon Reveals 🚚 Not being a hugely patriotic person at this point in my life, I made no plans to go to any Fourth of July parade this year. It seems mighty foolish to be celebrating freedoms that are eroding right before our eyes, though I…

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Div — July 3, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Alone Time, Girl Time 👩‍👧Picture Hanger🔨What Amazon Reveals 🚚 Wifey Poo and I found ourselves in an interesting position at home today for a little bit: Alone. Boy The Elder took off for Six Flags with his buds, and Boy The Younger left with a friend and his family (Chicken Owner,…

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Car Guy — July 2, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Oil Change 👨‍🔧Goose Lover🛦Church & State⛪ Based on my history, the last place anyone should ever look for me is underneath a car. Yet that’s where I found myself late this morning, side-by-side with Boy The Elder as he showed me exactly how stupid I’ve been all my life. I’m not…

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