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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 dig a good parade.

What I didn’t dig was getting stuck for two-and-a-half hours in O’Fallon, Missourah, because of a parade route.

I had an appointment with Arti The Therapist, and rather than do it from home, I made the decision to go to my favorite local coffeehouse, Alpha & Omega. I’d called to make sure they were open, and I figured I’d basically have the place to myself.

Not so fast, sunshine.

The place was packed with pre-parade people festooned in red, white and blue. A&O is located right on the parade route, I learned, so people apparently stopped by to caffeine up before waving to the politicians on their floats (which, incidentally, is a great place for politicians to be).

No problem, I thought. I’ll just head south and go to a coffee shop somewhere less Amuricah.

But there was a problem. In the time it took me to park at A&O, walk in to see that it was jammed and walk back to my car, police shut down the parade route and there was literally no road out of that part of O’Fallon. Trust me. I looked.

I ended up having my Arti appointment in my car parked off some path behind a school and then, upon discovering the parade still in full effect an hour later, abandoned my vehicle for the shade of a park in the Captive Zone.

I texted Wifey Poo because I was starving from having not eaten breakfast and requested an air drop of supplies.

None came.


Last August, we purchased the home Wifey Poo grew up in and left our cul-de-sac to move out to the country Over the past year, we have been cleaning out Wifey Poo’s parents’ stuff, and she recently came upon a deck of cards with a box loudly declaring “Iraqi Most Wanted.” I remember this deck being a huge thing back when we were 1,000% sure Weapons of Mass Destruction were standard issue to every Iraqi entering kindergarten.

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of that little military escapade, so I thought it would be fun to see how we’ve done with our international John Walsh effort. Best as I can find, we’re 48 for 52 on capturing or killing these baddies, though many of the most wanted weren’t so most wanted that they remain in custody. Here’s what I learned by turning my Google search history into something I’m sure our national intelligence apparatus is addressing at this very moment:

  • It’s not healthy to be in custody of U.S. or Iraqi forces. A total of 14 Most Wanted died while being held, though according to published reports, none were of the “oops, he fell in the shower” variety. Most were because these were middle-aged dudes when they were nabbed, and 20 years in prison can take its toll on the body and mind.
  • But if you can survive being in custody, you’re most likely good. Thirteen of the baddies were released and are living today, most outside of Iraq. Most common post-imprisonment destination? Jordan.
  • Evading the combined armed forces of the Western world is really, really hard. Only three of the Most Wanted have never been captured or killed. All three have $1 million bounties on their heads. So if you’re not doing anything …
  • Dying in battle isn’t the way these folks chose to meet their maker. Only three died fighting, and two of them were Saddam Hussein’s sons.
  • Some people have really, really bad luck. One dude was captured and was in custody for more than a decade when ISIS came swarming through and ripped him out of his cell before executing him.
  • There’s some funny business going on with some of these folks. Three may have been captured … but might not have. One might be dead … but might not be. One might have been taken from his prison cell and executed by ISIS … but he might not have been.
  • Some of the Most Wanted were right. Three testified loud and often before the invasion that there were no weapons of mass destruction remaining in Iraq. They were called liars and stooges of the regime. When they were captured or surrendered shortly after the invasion began, they were thrown into prison … and then quietly released years later.
  • The “Worst Way For A Most Wanted Member To Die” Award goes to Barzan Ibrahim Hasan, the five of clubs. He was Saddam’s half-brother and presidential advisor who led Iraq’s secret police during the first Gulf War. He was captured in 2003 and executed in 2007. During his execution, a math error in the calculation of his weight and the length of rope needed led to him falling longer from the platform than he should have. When the rope finally went taught, it popped his head off. Moral of the story: Math is important, kids.

It’s hot. Like, disgustingly hot. I hate hot. Give me a brisk fall wind and 50 degrees, and I’ll gladly spend the day outside.

But give me 100 degrees and the typical Missouri humidity that is so thick it’s as if you have to swim through the air? No freaking thank you. It’s supposed to be this gross through at least Wednesday.

Does anyone like this crap? Give me a spring, two falls and a winter and I’d be happy. Give me four falls and I’d consider that heaven.


In Other Writing


Today’s Reasons to Keep Living

  1. It’s nearly time to blow up some fireworks.
  2. Boy The Elder and his buddies are starting to make the shrimp boil as I type.
  3. I took a good nap today. That made me happy.

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Wherever You Go … — May 10, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Friends😔What To Do?🙋Creepy Dolls 🎎 Yesterday was a rough day. It’s one thing to be a person with essentially no friends. It’s another thing altogether to not be friends with yourself. That’s where I was yesterday — all up in my head and imagining the worst was about to happen in…

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Gambling — May 8, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Losing Money 🥊The Best F’N Mom Ever👩Heat 🥵 Wifey Poo and I took our weekly date Saturday and went to the city made famous in the original National Lampoon’s Vacation movie: East St. Louis. No, East St. Louis isn’t in Missouri and no, it’s not a popular data destination, but what…

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Relentlessness — May 5, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩One Long Sentence 🖊️Birthday Boy🎂Wine & Chocolate 🍷🍫 I remember being a kid and wanting to be an adult. I wanted to drive and have a girlfriend and be able to do whatever it was that I wanted to do, not what someone else said I should do. And now, here…

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Monday Things — May 2, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ink Stain 🖊️Big Week 🎂Gas Pumps 😂 If getting a link of ink right across the front of your shirt while trying to catch a falling pen isn’t one of the Mondayest of Monday things that can happen to a dude, I’m sure there aren’t too many things that can beat…

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The Power of Baseball — May 1, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Tater Tots🥔The Waffle House League🧇The Baseball Speech ⚾ There’s a reason why baseball was America’s pastime and now is sinking in popularity. Baseball is different from other sports. It has a pace unlike today’s more popular games. It’s meant to be savored, not downed like a shot. Yes, it’s gone from…

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Johnny Depp and Libel — April 29, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Truth ⚖️The Poor Man’s Chipotle🌮Jokes 🤣 Anyone else get sucked in by the Johnny Depp/Amber Heard trial? I’m not quite sure how it happened, but I did. This is extremely odd because Hollywood culture and all things pop culture in general annoy the crap about of me. There’s just something about…

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Baseball, Brawls and Booze — April 28, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩What A Game ⚾Brain Power 🧠Stupid People 🤣 The Best Damn Real Estate Team on Either Side of the Mississippi spent much of the day yesterday inside a luxury suite at Busch Stadium, as the Cardinals took on the New York Mets. The game had a little bit of everything —…

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Where Are My Pants? — April 27, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shanghai Surprise 👖Baseball Game ⚾Lawyer Joke😜 On March 27, I ordered some pants. I fully admit I went through Indochino because of its ads on The Tony Kornheiser Show podcast. Marketing works, folks. I’d ordered two custom-made pairs (not pair, Michael) before, and they are great. So I added some khakis…

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Earth Day and Marriage — April 22, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Marketing Earth Day 🌎Lifeshit 💩Mawwiage 🪢 Happy Earth Day. I love that we celebrate a planet that demonstrates in so many ways how much it doesn’t like us. Today, The Best Damn Real Estate Team on Either Side of the Mississippi is doing a highway cleanup project, so I’ll be on…

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The Boy Playing Baseball — April 20, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 A Humbling Sport⚾A Kick-Ass Trophy🐴Punk ⛓️ Happy 4/20. This edition of A Puzzle Known As Life is delivered in an edible format, and you’ll feel the effects of all the awesome in about 45 minutes. Enjoy. Boy The Younger had a baseball game last night. It was a cold, windy…

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It’s the End of the World As We Know It — April 19, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 Why We Suck🤡No Finishing Power🔚McReally? 🍔 The world is dumb, and America is the leading idiot. I don’t reach this conclusion with any sort of glee. It’s simply what I see. Societies hold together because of three things. Shared stories Strong institutions Social networks that engender trust. The past 10…

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List Item Achieved! #43: Play ball!

I am not good at fantasy sports. This makes absolutely no sense to me. I have been a religious follower of statistics since I was, like, 5. My father would bring the newspaper home from NYC and I’d pour through the sports section to see who did what in the previous night’s baseball games. I…

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List Item Achieved! #47 ‘If You’re Good At Something’

As I’ve previously detailed elsewhere on my site, I have a bit of a Dark Knight problem. It’s kinda like I have a bit of a Shawshank Redemption problem, a Jewel problem and, currently, an Amy Lee/Evanescence problem. I watch or hear something that speaks to my soul, and it becomes an area of intense…

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Welcome Back, Swagger

There was a time in my life when I had swagger. I was never the most popular or athletic kid in school, but for a while there, I was a really good baseball player. I could hit. I could field. And, boy, could I pitch. Some of the most “over” kids in high school would…

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List Item Achieved! #24: Music

I am my music. I don’t know how much simpler to define me than to say that if you want to know who and where I am at a particular moment, check my “recents” in Amazon Music. Music has always been a big thing with me. I understand it now, but I didn’t understand as…

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List Item Achieved! #40: Cheers!

I have a complicated history with alcohol. So stupid and naive was I that I it wasn’t until I was 8 years old that I learned a woman could drink beer. I mean, I actually believed beer was not something women were allowed to drink, or maybe it was that I thought that if they…

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List Item Achieved! #90: Here’s Lookin’ At You, Kid

It seems to me that a lot of things are easier these days. For example, I think it’s much easier to be a police detective now than, say, back in the 1960s-90s, when my uncle/godfather worked in Spanish Harlem. There are databases for everything from fingerprints to photos to DNA, and every block in the…

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List Items Update! January in Review

Ahh, January 2022, the month that will be remembered as the one in which, despite being vaxed and boosted, that little bitch Covid came to live with me again and as a month that lasted approximately 758 years. Yet despite its general assholeyness and inexplicable length, I managed to actually cross off very few items…

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List Items Update: The ‘In-Progress’ Stuff

I saw yesterday a post on Facebook in which the poster asked, “Is it just me or does it seem like the days are getting longer? I’m not sure what’s happening, but it sure seems like it.” I paused, thinking that it might be a joke before realizing that, no, this poster, a 40-something professional…

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List Item Achieved! #42: Bowlin’

ACCOMPLISHED No. 42: Create a college football bowl pool with a traveling trophy Sports bring people together. Of course, they also tear people apart. Look no further than the idiots supporting opposing teams in football stadiums who end up in alcohol-fueled brawls. But forget about that for a second. As I was saying, sports bring…

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List Item Update! #1: Dates!

In Progress No. 1: Go on 52 dates with CC Wifey Poo (AKA CC, AKA Carla) and I have known each other roughly 30 years. That’s a long time, folks. That’s the amount of time my parents were together when I was like, “Damn, you guys. That’s a long time to be together.” And now…

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List Item Achieved! #64: Lumosity

ACCOMPLISHED No. 64: Get into (and stay) in the 99th percentile on Lumosity Back when Longhaul COVID was effectively killing me and sapping my will to live, I went to a neuropsychiatrist, which is essentially a dude who studies the results of the brain’s functioning. I’ve had at least five concussions in my life, which…

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Changing Course — Jan. 1, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Voices In My Head 🎤‘Puzzle Pieces’ Origin Story 🎬A New Direction 🧭 I spent much of the past year with my writing trying to find a distinct voice. I dabbled in characters and tried to give each his or her own style. There was Q.F. Conseco, the free-spirited former Hippie…

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Reflections — Dec. 31, 2021

In a few hours, this revolution around the sun will be complete and a new one will begin. Unless something unexpected happens, I will have made it out alive. Hyperbole? Perhaps. But when I look back at the year that was, I feel I’m justified in counting it as a victory that I’m alive and…

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Disturbing Duck Fact — Dec. 23, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Creepy Mail 📪License Plate Strategy 🚗Donald Dick, Err, Duck 🦆 Wifey Poo received a piece of mail recently from a company that looks to buy your car. It was astoundingly bad marketing. The first sentence read, “According to our records, it looks as if you’re driving a VEHICLE.” First of all,…

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Balloons — Dec. 21, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Sad Dad Club 💔A Toast 🥃🥃Done Writing? 🖊️ It took me less than 24 hours as a part of the Dad Whose Child Died Club to learn that membership came with a myriad of uncomfortable situations. It was the day after Jacob (AKA Boy The Eldest) was born and died,…

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‘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…

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Thinking of Kix — Dec. 18, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Kix 👶Greg 🐟The First iPhone 📱 Life has a way of kicking you in the balls when you least expect it. Wifey Poo and I were cleaning up our lower level today and trying to get all of our crap that was put against the wall in the back by the…

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Battling Bowser — Dec. 14, 2021

🧩 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…

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Digital Detox Day — Dec. 12, 2021

🧩 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…

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In-Law Family Christmas — Dec. 11, 2021

🧩 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…

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Tornado Sirens — Dec. 10, 2021

🧩 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…

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‘When Crazy Comes Knockin’ ‘ — Dec. 9, 2021

🧩 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…

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What the Hell is on My Shirt? — Dec. 8, 2021

🧩 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,…

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Wifey Poo, The State Champ? — Dec. 7, 2021

🧩 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)…

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Off — Dec. 6, 2021

🧩 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…

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One Hundred Intentions for 2022

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…

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Bumper Car Aggression — Dec. 4, 2021

🧩 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…

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The Song of the Year is What? — Dec. 3, 2021

🧩 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…

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Death to the Elf — Dec. 2, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Redemption 😊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…

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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…

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