🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
My Fullback 🚑
Sicky Poo 🤒
Helium Shortage 🎈
I don’t get paid anywhere close to enough to deal with St. Louis traffic when it rains. Not that St. Louis drivers are uniquely bad. I would imagine large swaths of drivers in other cities react just as poorly to the presence of moisture on the roadways. Yet yesterday afforded me a great learning lesson.
I typically enter “Home” as my destination on good-ole’ Google Maps before putting my car in drive when I leave the office. As rain pounded all around me yesterday, the Google Gods told me that, no matter what recommended route of theirs I took, the normally 40 to 45 minute drive would take me at least an hour and 10 minutes.
Unacceptable, thought I.
I recently discovered a back way that meanders through the beautiful Missourah countryside en route to my Humble Country Home, yet I still need to get across the damn Missouri River before I can take it. The Google Gods showed a helluva lot of red on the Home side of said river and a lot of yellow on the side I was then on. Alas, soon after merging onto I-270, things began to slow down.
- Then, when what to my wondering eyes should appear, but an ambulance traveling down the left lane! I watched in the rearview mirror as cars scooted out of that lane into my lane and stacked up behind me.
I don’t know why I have never had this idea before, but sudden brilliance crackled across my brain. “I’m a-gonna’ follow that amboolance,” said I.
So I watched as it passed by doing the speed limit while the rest of us plodded along like pothead sloths. Then I quickly moved over to the left lane. For the next 5 miles, when the ambulance got on I-64 East while I turned onto I-64 West, I followed that ambulance like it was a fullback paving a way for my Walter Payton-esque self through a particularly weak defensive line (Think New York Jets).
For a little bit, I was the only one behind the ambulance, and the thought crossed my mind that what I was doing was somehow illegal. Then, others started to see the wisdom of my plan. If it was illegal, at least I’d be in jail with like-minded people.
Suddenly, I was second in a conga line of vehicles making the chumps in the other lanes look like fools.
Thanks to this deft maneuvering and my super-secret back way home, I arrived a full fifteen freaking minutes ahead of what my original Google-predicted touchdown time would be.
Thanks, Mr. Ambulance Driver.
Wifey Poo is sick. This is not new news. Wifey Poo has been sick for the majority of the past three weeks. Yet yesterday was finally the day she went to urgent care, where a doctor diagnosed her with bronchitis and tonsilitis. She’s now loaded up with drugs of the legal variety and hopefully soon will be back to her non-snot-filled-non-hacking-cough self.
All seven episodes of the final season of Stranger Things dropped on Netflix this morning, just in time for the long weekend. The odds that by the time I’m forced to return to work Tuesday I’ll be saying, “What a finale! I’m so sad the series is over” is somewhere around 2-to-1.
As if that weren’t enough, the new Top Gun hits theaters today (well, technically, it hit yesterday). The original was the perfect movie. It had all the elements necessary to make it a Dude Flick — fighter planes, Commies and beach volleyball — while simultaneously capturing most elements of a Chick Flick — Tom Cruise, romance and beach volleyball.
Wifey Poo is the odd duck who was more enthralled by Goose (see what I did there?) than Maverick and who openly lamented his — spoiler alert — death. That made ER must-see TV for us when we were first married.
I’ve seen Facebook posts from a few friends who’ve seen the new Top Gun installment and give it two thumbs up. When can I go see it? Hmm.
The United States is a sucky place to live and work. Hey. Don’t blame me. I’m not the only one saying it. Software company Kisi tracked metrics such as the availability of remote jobs, the cost of living and the prevalence of outdoor spaces and smashed all the data together into a ranking of the best cities for work-life balance. Not a single U.S. city was in the Top 10. Nor the Top 20. Nor the Top 30.
Cities in Germany — current location of Boy The Elder — made up nearly a third of the Top 30. The top-ranked U.S. didn’t chart until Home of the Grunge Seattle clocked in at No. 32.
Curious what the Top 10 are?
- Oslo, Norway
- Bern, Switzerland
- Helsinki, Finalnd
- Zurich, Switzerland
- Copenhagen Denmark
- Geneva, Switzerland (Damn, Switzerland. Stop hogging the list!)
- Ottawa, Ontario (The freaking Syrup Drinkers have a city on the list before us?!?!?)
- Sydney, Australia (G’Day)
- Stuttgart, Germany
- Munich, Germany
Of course, different metrics would get you different results. This study seemed to prize the “life” part of the work-life balance a helluva lot more than the “work” part. Perhaps that’s a good thing. Finland (it of the Helsinki host) is routinely listed as the home of the happiest people on earth, and its residents take an average of one month of paid vacation each year, while the average inhabitant of Los Angeles (not in the Top 100) takes only one week.
- Regular readers of my stuff have long ago logically concluded I’m not a huge fan of the country of my citizenship. I think we as a nation are horribly off course and our political system is next-level broken. We have every single earmark of a declining empire. I’m fairly confident my kids — or, at the very least, my grandkids– will not be able to call the land of their birth a superpower when they breathe their last.
I could go on and on and on at this point about all the ways we’ve gotten fat, lazy and complacent. But instead, I’ll just leave you with this gif that made me smile. Long live Norway!
Nebraskans don’t have a whole lot to get excited about. If there ever was a true definition of a flyover state, Nebraska is likely following the “1,” in the dictionary, with neighboring Kansas raising its hand and saying, “Have you forgot about us?”
The one thing it used to have was a good college football team, and now even that is largely gone. The one thing it had left was a tradition for those who still go to those games in which fans would release balloons after the first touchdown its team scored each contest (which more frequently has been happening after halftime).
- Forget the fact that that is likely very environmentally unsound. That’s not the reason the tradition is about to die. No, the tradition is about to die because of the most commonly used phrase of the decade so far — supply chain issues.
It seems as if there’s a freaking helium shortage, and Cornhusker football fans aren’t the most harmed by the existence of this as a thing.
Apparently, helium is used in rocket fuel, MRI machines and weather balloons. The National Weather Service has said it’s being forced to slow its pace of weather balloon launches because we can’t seem to find enough of this stuff.
- I say this is caused by a supply chain issue, which is true, but that supply chain issue has a cause other than Covid: The U.S. government.
Back in the 1960s, the government thought helium so vital to our national security that it created a stockpile. Going back to the laws of supply and demand that pretty much govern everything in life, prices rose. .
Congress finally noticed — not until 1996, mind you — and began selling off that stockpile to flood the market with helium. Prices fell.
- It took another 17 years for them to realize “Oh shit. We’ve been selling too much of this stuff,” and they raised prices in 2013. The cost went from around $65 per thousand cubic feet to a high of $119 in 2019. They’re now around $100.
You can’t make this stuff up, folks. Well, you could. But if you were making stuff up, you probably wouldn’t waste your time making stuff up about helium storage.
In Other Writing …
I was talking with a business professional recently who was lamenting his company’s inability to hire and retain quality talent. People come in and are often highly touted, he said, but they either flame out or leave far sooner than what is good for the business. I offered to look at the company’s job postings…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Big day of new possibilities!
- Three-day weekend, baby!
- Stranger Things/Top Gun multi-series marathon????
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Books and Stories 📚SVB Lessons 🏦Basketball Party 🏀 Holy crap, you guys! I actually finished something I wrote! In fact, I finished two somethings I wrote! As my regular readers (hey you three!) know, I’ve been stunk in a funk of starting to write books and short stories with gusto and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Podcast Appearance 🎙️The Birth Control Pill Story 🐶Good Tired 🥱 If you would have asked me a few years ago whether I could ever envision myself on a stage in the back room of a dive bar sharing a story about how my dog ate six months of birth control pills…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Pee Mate 🚽Game Maker 🎲Dumb Muricans 🦅 I have been thinking about death a lot lately, not because I’m particularly eager for it to happen or because I’m particularly not eager for it to happen. I guess it’s because I’m a few months shy of my 49th birthday and please-for-the-love-of-God let…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dieudonne 🌍Hoops Win🏀Cornhole Roll ✔️ In 2021, during some of the darkest and most difficult times in our lives as individuals and couple, Wifey Poo and I did a thing. It was a big thing. It was a challenging thing. It was an amazing thing. But to say it was just…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩’Full Stop’ 🛑Needles 💉Business Lessons 🧑💼 Here’s something I learned about myself today: One way to ensure that I will debate you on a topic until I give my last breath or until you are huddled in a corner in a fetal position is to end the statement of your opinion…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mindfulness 🧘Mullet Prez 👩🦳Murder Family 🔪 Our brains are amazing things. So adept are they at routines that they can essentially run on autopilot and let you do the everyday stuff like operating a multi-ton object advancing at 70+ mph among lots of other multi-top objects advancing at 70+ mph without…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bloody Hell 💂Circus Moments 🤡Silence 🤫 OK, people: I’ve got a bone to pick with you. But first, a little digression. What in the bloody hell does that phrase mean? “A bone to pick with you?” That sounds absolutely disgusting. And if you’re wondering why I said “bloody hell,” well, that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩24 Hour Video 😡Rubik’s Kid 🧊Dilbert Doofus 🤪 There are two things I cannot stand in the working world — and in life, in general. The first is people whose lack of preparedness turns ordinary stuff into emergencies. The second is when people criticize the result of something they previous approved.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mormon Billionaires 💰Bigger Packages 🍌Birds Really Aren’t Real 🐦 Can we just get on with blowing the tits off the world with nuclear weapons or something and end this stupid thing we call the human race? Yeah, I know that’s a little dramatic, but when I take a look at the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Muricah The Evil 🦅You Buy You 💰Big-Ass Van 🚚 I find it rather humorous that Muricah warned China not to send arms to one side of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine … and that we issued this warning with a straight face. I’m quite sure most Muricahns believe their country…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Salve 🩹Car Wash 🚗💧Light Removal 🎄 I try not to venture too often into a Wal-Mart, especially on the weekend. I cling to slim hope for this nation as it is, and I find Wal-Mart trips do not help my grip. Alas, this weekend, Boy The Younger was under the weather…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩CC, BCC, FU 📧Basketball Poll 🏀Andy Rooney 🎙️ This week has largely been a Shit Week marred by Shit People. What are Shit People? They aren’t exactly easy to define, but one hallmark of a Shit Person is his rampant use of the CC function at work to passive-aggressively play power…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chill Day 🛋️Busy Weekend ⚾Halftime 🏈 I’m not working today. Not only am I not working at my day job, I’m not doing any work for my side gig today. I’m not planning on doing much of anything, actually. And I don’t feel guilty about that. This weekend was insanely busy.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Big Pharma Sucks 💊Work Rules 🧑💼Big Weekend 🏈 Spend any time in front of the television and you’ll see ads touting the latest drugs that you shouldn’t take if you’re allergic to and that you most definitely need to ask your doctor about. Now comes a study showing that the people…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Top 5 🎈Symphony 🎻Living Eulogies 💗 Top 5 things overheard in Missourah last week as a purported Chinese spy balloon made its way over the state en route to its rendezvous with an F22’s missile: Despite my high-brow upbringing in Suburbia, New York, I’m not what anyone would call A Symphony…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Space Walk 🧑🚀Bye-Bye Brady 🏈Failure Rate 🐿️ When Boy The Elder was just Boy and devoid of a younger brother, we had a nickname for him: Pokey Joe. BTE didn’t do anything fast, but more than anything, what he did incredibly slow was get out of a car. That would suck…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Raccoons 🦝February 💘Man Nips 🕺 Today I bring you the story of a raccoon who got his balls stuck to railroad tracks. But the reason you think I’m bringing you this story is not the reason I’m bringing you this story. You think I’m bringing the story of the raccoon Neil…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Tyre Nichols 😔Tattoo Day ✒️Nephew Hoops🏀 I was a white kid in suburbia, New York, in 1988 when the gangsta rap group N.W.A. came out with its album Straight Outta Compton, featuring the song Fuck Tha Police. It was scandalous, at the time, to suggest that the police would be anything…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Car Concert 🎵Sick Wife🤒People Suck 🖕 Within the 24 hours in the run-up to Snowpocalypse 2023, the estimates on the Weather Channel app for our snowfall total ranged from 1 to 10 inches. That’s like going to the doctor and being told you have anything from a splinter to terminal cancer.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mission: Failed 👎Ho 🤣Handy Family 👍 It has to suck to work at the Missouri Department of Transportation. Why? It took exactly 75 minutes for all of 2023 to be a failure. Let me explain. Those of you unfortunate enough to have been involved in any sort of corporate planning process…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Houston 🖊️Sad clown 🤡Taco Seasoning 🌮 Houston, Missourah, is not unlike a lot of other rural Missourah towns through which I’ve driven and bears a resemblance to the Small Town USA in which Boy The Elder did a lot of his early growing up and to which Boy The Younger came…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Definitions 📖Missing Bourbon 🥃Mysterious Knocks 😵 I generally abhor any writing that starts with, “Webster’s dictionary defines …” Webster’s dictionary defines “ceiling” as a noun meaning “the overhead inside lining of a room.” The implication is that it’s a limitation, a max, a point of demarcation between what’s out there and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sadness 😥Annoyance 😠Disappointment 😞 When Boy The Elder was Boy The Only in our home, he watched one of the Air Bud movies featuring a basketball-playing dog. Or maybe it was football. Or soccer. By the time that series was over, that dog had played them all. Anyway, whichever Air Bud…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Thor’s Blurry Hammer 🍆Pigeon Delivery 🕊️Idiot List 🤪 Thor is really, really good with his hammer. And by that, I mean that Thor the walrus in Scarborough, England, is really good at masturbating and ruining New Years Eve. If you haven’t heard about this story, stop reading stupid news like politics…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bruising Basketball 🏀Poke ☝️Six?!? 🔫 I grew up in the NBA era of the Bad Boys Detroit Pistons while loving a New York Knicks team that was, to put it mildly, quite physical. Guys like Steph Curry and LeBron James can makes basketball seem like artistry these days, but give me…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩What There is Like! ⛅’Modern Policing’ 🚨Xylophone Time! 🎵 When you decide to talk about a time in which you truly believe you more-or-less died and saw what comes after this life, you have to be comfortable with the fact that people might think you’re nuts. Hell, talking about it on…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Grace Ashford! 📰Idaholy Shit! 🥔Story of the Year! 🍆 The three most influential people in my life as a journalist are, sadly, all part of the Great Newsroom in the Sky now. Professors Michael Perkins and Bob Woodward (AKA Bob Woodward-Not-That-Bob-Woodward) helped educate me at Drake University, and Lisa Warren was…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Poor Puppy 🐶Romeo and Juliet 🤴👸Meta Mistake 🙊 Disturbing news out of Washington, D.C., today as Republican Congressman-elect George Santos (if that’s his real name) brought a 6-month-old puppy to the house floor and screamed “Hey, look at me!” before slitting its throat and lapping up its squirting blood like a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩A Pretty Good Rant 😠Tesla Plunge 🚗Missed Lasts 😥 Those of you who regularly read my drivel (I see you, DirtySciFiBuddah) might have become aware of the fact over the past year or so that I am not a huge fan of our world’s modern institutions. All of them might, in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Incomplete 🕮Frustration 😠Bowl Bust 🏈 To say that I know how to write is like saying I know how to breathe. No one considers that they know how to breathe. They just … breathe. No one is particularly good at breathing or bad at breathing. Again, they just … breathe. I’ve…Keep reading
Welcome to Issue No. 15 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. So last year, I had a list of 100 intentions for 2022, and I did fairly well,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩2023 📅Helping 🧠The Universe 🔭 I’m not much for long-term plans and goals. This isn’t to suggest I don’t think they’re important. I just think that spending a lot of time on them is futile. What’s the saying? Man plans, God laughs. Something like that. Anyway, I’ve learned through experience that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chain Links 🔗”Work” 🧑💼Popular Toys 🧸 After my first son died in December 2000, I spent a lot of time wondering why. Why me? Why Wifey Poo? Why Jacob? Why this level of suffering in a world supposedly created and run by an all-loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God? So I did what…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chiefs! 🏈Indy Tickets 🏎️Bank Visit 💰 When I bought the tickets to the Christmas Eve contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks as a gift for Boys The Elder & Younger, it was sometime in September and temps hovered around 90 degrees. The thought that the game might…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Timelines 👶Extinctions 🌋Sin City 👌 As I fall deeper down the rabbit hole learning more about theories on space and time, the concept of alternative timelines comes up again and again and again. Whether it’s the stuff of science fiction or one day will be proven to be the stuff of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩’Cousin’ Laughs🎤Improv!?!? 🎭Drake Hoops 🏀 Back when I was a boy, I had a favorite Cousin-Who-Wasn’t-A-Cousin. His name was Joey DeVito, and he was in no way a blood relation to me, though I called his father Uncle Frankie and his mother Aunt Celia. I’m pretty sure this is an East…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Glazed 🍩Bingo! 🖥️Disappearing Christians ⛪ I didn’t intend to bring doughnuts for my co-workers yesterday morning. It just sorta happened. How it happened and how it played out is a window into my weird mind. First, an explanation: I have a card purchased from Boy The Younger that entitles me to…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩STL’s Homeless 😥Snake Hoo-Hoos 🐍That Was Epoch 👴 I found James huddled underneath a blanket as he sat, knees to his chest, head bowed, just outside the doorway of a CVS in the Delmar Loop section of St. Louis. If you’re not familiar with the area, it’s a fun place filled…Keep reading