🧩 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 …
Why Businesses Miss Out On Great Hires
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 🧩Man Cold? 🤒Balloon Analogy 🎈World Flop ⚽ If you want to know how my Monday started yesterday, I poured coffee all over my hand. It isn’t that I don’t know how to pour coffee. I’ve done it a billion times. It’s that, on this particular Monday, somewhere in between the start…Keep reading
Zoo Signs — Nov. 20, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Gorilla Harassment 🦍Brother Love 👨👦👦True Crime 🔪 My love of wild animals was fostered early in my childhood. Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom was appointment viewing for my family. I grew up with scenes of hungry cheetahs chasing down baby gazelles that included what’s not included on nature shows today ……Keep reading
No Slides Allowed — Nov. 17, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Presentation Skillz 📽️No Tribe 😔Fuck 45 🖕 There was a time not all that long ago, cosmically speaking, that the mere thought of standing up in front of a crowd and giving a talk would have made me want to throw up in my shoes. In fact, there has been a…Keep reading
What’s Funny? — Nov. 15, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Boss Kudos 🙌Chill Time 😌One In 8 Billion🧍 It always feels good when the Big Bossman comes up to you and shakes your hand for a job well done. That happened last night when El Presidente of our company congratulated me on the video I wrote, shot and produced for our…Keep reading
Engaged — Nov. 14, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩BTE and Div 💍Brother Greetings 👨👩👦👦Travel Day ✈️ The morning after Boy The Elder was born, I awoke in the hospital to his sweet cooing and his momma’s deep-sleep breathing. Scooping him up carefully and holding him nervously, I sat in a rocking chair in the pre-dawn darkness and talked to…Keep reading
Dying Democracy — Nov. 11, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Election Message 🗳️School Priorities 🏫Tickets Aplenty 🎫 It would seem to me that if a common sentiment from wise people following an election is that it’s a good thing the results were so muddled because it means not much will get done in the next two years, you’ve got yourself a…Keep reading
Fairy Tale — Nov. 9, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stephen King 🕮Legal Weed🌿Public Schools🏫 I read my first Stephen King book when I was in high school. It was summer, if I remember correctly, and everywhere I went, I carried a worn library copy of Pet Sematary. Since that time, King’s words have been a regular companion through every stage…Keep reading
Year In Music — Nov. 5, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Craze 🎵Back Crackin’👩⚕️To-Dos Done🚗 My year of music is over. And, my God, has it been good. It started on a sweltering mid-July afternoon at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in which Wifey Poo and I watched my Backup Wife Jewel do her thing. It ended last night on an evening that…Keep reading
Update: My Favorite African — Nov. 3, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little D’s Return 🏥Irony 🔨Planet Killer 🌎 Being a host parent to a little boy from Africa (Burkina Faso, to be precise) was one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. And now, that little boy is returning to the United States. For those not…Keep reading
Mega Billions — Nov. 2, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stupid IT Rules 🖥️The Bend 🚑Is The War Over? ✌️ Tonight, there will be a lottery drawing in which someone could win $1.2 billion. That someone won’t be me, as I didn’t buy a ticket, but it didn’t stop me from thinking about what I would and wouldn’t do with that…Keep reading
Fun Family — Nov. 1, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Family Dynamics 👪New Mattress 🛏️To Share Or Not To Share? ❓ Let’s say the only cracker you’ve ever eaten is a Saltine. You have no experience with any other crackers. In fact, you don’t even know that there is such a thing as other crackers. You might not love the Saltine,…Keep reading
Halloween Haters— Oct. 31, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ghosts of Halloween 👻Wrinkles 👴Words Spawn Action ✍️ Wifey Poo made a bold declaration about her opinion of Halloween on our drive back from Springfield, Missourah, Saturday afternoon: “Halloween is a great time for kids to dress up …” If you think there’s more to that statement, nope. She added: “Period.”…Keep reading
How I Do Me — Oct. 27, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Empath Life 🤗Earthquake 🌎Revolutionary Failure 😶 About six months after I started my career as a professional journalist, I started walking past this job opening in our company every time I walked in and out of the building. It was for editor of a weekly paper routinely ridiculed by those who…Keep reading
School Shooter Match Game — Oct. 24, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Game Time 🎮Family Picture📸Marriage Tips 🪢 I remember when it was simple. Horrible, yes … but simple. There was Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and they matched up with Columbine — which, side note, would have been my high school had my parents not moved to NY when I was 2.…Keep reading
Helping the Homeless — Oct. 23, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Helper Bags 🆘What’s In The Bag?🎒Mini Golf ⛳ I was raised to avoid the homeless. Avoid eye contact. Avoid conversation. And most definitely avoid giving them anything they asked for. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, which doesn’t make me feel any better. What was instilled in me as…Keep reading
Marcus F’n King — Oct. 21, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Books & Covers 🕮Seeking Balance ⚖️Weirdo🤪 We’re taught at an early age to not judge a book by its cover. If I remember correctly, that was impressed upon me sometime around the first grade. Yet to be honest, I don’t think it’s a lesson that ever really sunk in. I imagine…Keep reading
Political Ads — Oct. 20, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Illegals or Guns? 🤦Scrolling Through Stupidity 🖱️Worst Nurse Ever 👩⚕️ If there’s anything I hate more than politics and politicians, it’s political advertising. Cutting the cable cord has lessened its intrusiveness in my life, yet it still manages to seep in. Case in point: I was watching the Padres-Phillies game last…Keep reading
Chocolateman— Oct. 19, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Passion 🍫Sarcasm 😜Poop 💩 I appreciate people who are passionate about something. Well, except politics. Then I’d prefer it if you’d just keep your mouth shut. But if you’re super-interested in photography, goats, cooking, geocaching, quilting, etching … whatever … your enthusiasm feeds my soul. Which is part of the reason…Keep reading
Top 5 Things From The Past Week: Oct. 10-16 edition
Welcome to Issue No. 9 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 pledged to finish something I am a writer. If I’m going to be a…Keep reading
Evolution — Oct. 17, 2022
🧩 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
Basement Water — Oct. 15, 2022
🧩 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
Death! Death! Death! — Oct. 14, 2022
🧩 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
Corneal Complications — Oct. 13, 2022
🧩 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
Mattress Shopping — Oct. 10, 2022
🧩 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
So Long, Cards — Oct. 9, 2022
🧩 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
Playoff Baseball — Oct. 6, 2022
🧩 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
There Will Be Blood — Oct. 5, 2022
🧩 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
Top 5 Things From The Past Week: 9/26-10/2
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 email@example.com. No. 5: I held an epic car concert If you were anywhere in the vicinity of my…Keep reading
Place Your Bets — Oct. 3, 2022
🧩 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
Sliced Bread — Sept. 30, 2022
🧩 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
Rental Tank — Sept. 29, 2022
🧩 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
LinkedIn — Sept. 26, 2022
🧩 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
Top 5 Things From The Past Week: 9/9-9/25
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. No. 5: I reached out to a friend I have not been shy about sharing that I’ve…Keep reading
iPhone Envy — Sept. 25, 2022
🧩 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
Human Babies — Sept. 23, 2022
🧩 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
In It — Sept. 22, 2022
🧩 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
Remembering Sarah — Sept. 21, 2022
🧩 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
Small Ear Canal — Sept. 19, 2022
🧩 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
Sunday Randomness — Sept. 18, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Two, Four, Six, Eight👑Tips💰Book Buying📖 Some random thoughts from the week that was: Today’s Reasons to Keep LivingKeep reading
Nominee Day! — Sept. 16, 2022
🧩 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
Springfields Aplenty — Sept. 15, 2022
🧩 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
F’n COVID — Sept. 13, 2022
🧩 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
Change of Plans — Sept. 12, 2022
🧩 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
Why Run? — Sept. 11, 2022
🧩 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