🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
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 for two or three weeks and burn the hell out of them. It’s very much a Missourah thing to burn stuff in your backyard. You can be driving down a road in rural Missourah and see a huge cloud of black smoke billowing skyward from miles away, and your first thought is never, “Holy crap! I hope everyone is OK!” It is always, “Wow. He must be burnin’ somethin’ real good. I’m jealous.”
The plan was to do my Missourah God Given Right before the temperature reached the expected high of 99 degrees, and on this I was successful.
I went outside at around 8:30 a.m. to commence the burning, only to remember that, oh yeah, the last time I attempted to light this pile on fire, I’d used an entire can — our only can — of lighter fluid and accomplished nothing other than royally pissing off a rabbit that had made a temporary home under the pile. I blamed the fact it had rained the day before, but as we’ll soon see together, that probably wasn’t it.
I momentarily eyed the can of lawn mower gas before actually hearing Wifey Poo’s voice telling me, “Really John? Really? We’re gonna do this. Really?”
Off to Wal-Mart I went. Here’s a thing about me: I could go into the same Wal-Mart 50,000 times over the course of two weeks and if Wifey Poo texted me to say, “Hey, could you pick up come Oreos,” still I would spend at least 15 minutes wandering the aisles like the Jews in the dessert, wondering why God was punishing me.
Lighter fluid is a far more obscure item than Oreos. Why, during the summer, the Evil Wal-Mart Overlords would hide it and the charcoal way the hell over in the garden center is beyond me, but it took me three laps of the freaking store, including one in which I walked right by it thinking “Why isn’t the lighter fluid with the charcoal?” before I found it.
Then I decided to get a car wash, and, because I have $55 in gift cards to Starbucks, I thought, “Why the hell not?” and swung by there too.
But we’re not done.
I know that when society collapses I’m screwed. I am not what you’d call a survivalist. Once things go south, I’ve got maybe two weeks to live.
I understand that starting a fire with lighter fluid (!!!!!) should be an easy task to accomplish, especially on a day with no wind and in which, thanks to my wanderings around Wal-Mart and associated other trips, the temperature had risen to just below the flashpoint for spontaneous human combustion.
“Should” applies to people not named me.
Three-quarters of can of lighter fluid later, I was already sweating through my shirt and beginning to realize I was going to have to go back to Wal-Mart for more lighter fluid. I’d get a small little fire going, and then it would peter out. Repeat attempts failed.
Call it divine intervention or a sudden flash of brilliance, but after walking a little too close to one of the ends of the branches stacked up on the pile and getting scraped yet again (my legs look like I fought with Little Person Edward Scissorhands), I realized that the stuff at the end of the branches — the very brown, very dead needles of the cedar tree — would probably make for good kindling.
So I unpiled all the branches, snapped off a bunch of the ends, stuck them at the bottom, and lit them on fire before quickly throwing more branches on top as the inferno grew. Pretty soon, I had this:
That’s when things got a little crazy.
Here’s the thing about fires: They’re hot.
Duh, right? I mean, we’ve all sat by a campfire or fireplace and felt that. What I wasn’t quite aware of, however, was that a fire with cedar branches burns hotter, and a fire with an entire crapton of cedar branches burns a lot hotter.
Soon, my shirt was soaked through. So I took it off. Calm down, ladies. Keep it together. And don’t be jealous that you can’t do that. You could. We live way the hell out in the country. You could go around buck naked and only manage to confuse the deer and the squirrels.
But word of warning … That’s when I learned another thing about fires: The ash that comes off of raging infernos like the one above? It, too, is hot, especially when it lands on your exposed chest hairs.
It’s now The Morning After, and that pile of branches has been reduces to a small lump outside the window out of which I’m now looking. Overnight and morning rains have thoroughly soaked it.
Ya know what else happened this morning? The realization that, ultimately, to get the fire actually lit and really roaring, I needed not one drop of lighter fluid.
“Sweat” was the theme of the day yesterday. After the Battle of the Burn Pile, I came in and realized I was about an hour and a half away from having to take Boy The Younger to his baseball tryouts, which made a shower seem more like a waste of water than a smart thing to do. So I mopped off, sprayed some Ax body spray (there’s never a can too far away when you have a teenage boy) and soon headed back into the swamp-ass heat that makes me question why in God’s name I live someplace in which you can lick the air.
To be fair, BTY had it worse, actually down on the field in the sun, while I sat in the shade in the stands, still, dripping sweat off my head and down my back and chest. Yes, a kid who was trying out barfed from the heat, in case you were wondering.
The thermometer on my car on the drive over hit 105.
When I got home, I finally showered, only to head back out into the heat again, this time with Wifey Poo for the Jewel concert (and oh yeah, Blues Travel and Train).
There, we sweat together, as all good couples do. Jewel was magnificent. She was sweating like a pig, too. The best line of the night? “This girl’s Alaska ass is melting. I don’t know how you people do this.”
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more and more fascinated by the human body’s eccentricities, many of which involve hair. For example, if I didn’t shave the hair that remains on my head, what would grow our is in that weird old-man horseshoe shape. Yet if I didn’t shave the hair that wants to grow out of my ears and trim those that try to extend from my nostrils, I likely would be able to wrap them around my head and look like Elvis in about a week and a half.
I’m only 47!
Then there’s the matter of a different nose hair. About five years ago, I went to scratch the tip of my nose and felt something there. Not a big thing. But a thing. Just a thing. Not a thing thing.
I forgot about it.
A few days later, it happened again.
So I went to look in the mirror. If I tilted my head just … so… I could see one lone hair, no more than a centimeter, extending from the tip of my nose.
What the hell?
No one wants a single hair growing from the tip of their nose. I’m quite sure that, whether we evolved from apes or were placed here as-is from a creator god, we never were meant to have a hair extending from the tip of our noses. Running through a catalog of all animals stored in my brain, I can think of no animal that has any hair on the tip of its nose … not a fur-covered nose and certainly not one singular hair.
So I plucked it out with a pair of tweezers Wifey Poo keeps in her drawer in the bathroom. And that was that.
Except it wasn’t.
About six months later, the hair came back. Why it took six months to come back is anyone’s guess. I imagine the answer can be found somewhere in the same section as the “Why does a singular hair grow out of a person’s nose?” answer.
So I plucked it again.
Several months later, it came back.
There’s no rhyme or reason I can discern for the hair’s arrival. It’s not like it pops up for my birthday or Christmas. It doesn’t appear only when I’m stressed or not stressed. There’s a day that it’s not there and then a day when I sense it and am like, “Hmm. How long have you been growing?” It’s always in the same place, it’s always just one hair.
This, my friends, is middle age.
In Other Writing
RadioShack is taking a controversial approach to its social media marketing. It’s capturing attention. But will the new approach grow sales? “If you find a squirter, marry her.” RadioShack’s Twitter RadioShack getting horny with its marketing is kind of like walking in on your grandparents having sex, and yet here we are, standing in the…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Anxiously awaiting the next nose hair appearance.
- It’s actually supposed to be only in the 70s today!
- There are more branches on the cedar tree to trim before felling the actual tree. And then I get to burn the entire thing!
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🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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 —…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
Time is a fascinating concept to me. I’ve written about it before, but it just seems so arbitrary sometimes. It amazes me how we can suck at it so badly that we have to add an entire extra day every four years to keep our system going — and no one really bats an eye.…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
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…Keep reading
🧩 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,…Keep reading
🧩 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,…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Christmas Video 🎥Fighting The Big Boss 🥊Roland The Farter 🍑💨 I spent much of the day making a video for my job with The Allen Brake Team. I shot the footage a few weeks ago, and today was the day to identify the clips to actually use, assemble them, find the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩No-Phone Sunday 🚫📱Creepy Moles 🐀Doc Talk 📽️ Today was sort of a practice day for something I put on my “Hundred Things” list for 2022. It was a Digital Detox Sunday, which is No. 63 on the list. To me, this meant that I wouldn’t have any sort of device in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Trombones are Loud 🎺Birds Aren’t Real 🐦Death to Gymnastic Judges 🤸 Top 5 things that happened at In-Law Family Christmas, held at our humble country home, today. The realization that the mass of youngins has gotten so large now that our little babies have grown up to various new stages that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hey There, Dorothy 🌪️Christmas Hurts 🎄Bye-Bye, Checks and Balances ✔️⚖️ If you’re ever in need of some entertainment, might I suggest being in a church with a bunch of homeschool parents when tornado sirens go off? That’s where I found myself tonight, accompanied by Boy The Younger at a spring track…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Car Crash 🚗Video Day 🎞️Five No. 2s!? 💩 The Core 4 is headed out on a winter vacation to Memphis and New Orleans soon. The plan was to rent a vehicle through Turo.com, which is kinda like an Airbnb for cars. I had a quality vehicle picked out and reserved, one…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shirt Stain 👔Score One for the Unabomber💣Oh Canada 🌈🍁 I arrived at work this morning, put my stuff down on my desk and hit the men’s room because evidently a 42-minute drive is too long for a man of 47 years to comfortably hold his bladder. I did what I do,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Baseball God(ess) ⚾Alice in Chains 🎸What About the Golfers!? 🏌🏽♂️ To say that baseball was my life when I was a kid is an understatement. I watched it as much as the scant channels we had at home would allow — the Yankees were on Channel 11 WPIX and the (ugh)…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Detached 💭Intentions for a New Year 📆Red is Deadly 😷 Today sucked. The problem is, I don’t really know what the hell happened. I woke up just after 6, later than I have been recently, and I felt so significantly off that I truly don’t remember much of the first 45…Keep reading
Circles are interesting things. They have no beginning and no end. They just keep going around and around and around. And yet we set Jan. 1 as the day to mark the start of our journey around the sun, a journey we measure so incredibly poorly that we have to add an entire extra day…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ice Violence ⛸️Movie Night! 📽️Most Popular Dog Names 🐶 Today was date day for Wifey Poo and I. We’ve been trying to do a date a week since, oh, back in 2018. That was interrupted for awhile by a certain African host child this year, but we’re back at it. Today…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Top Songs of 2021 🎶Where’s the Snow? ❄️Thunder Struck ⛈️🏀 Because I didn’t already feel incredibly old and out of touch, I looked at the list of top 100 songs from 2021. It wasn’t until song No. 65 that I even thought I knew one of the songs, “Go Your Own…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩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…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Maria and The Chickens 🐔Strange Cyber Monday Offers 🧪Bloody Gift 🩸🎁 I hate wasting time. I hate it hate it hate it. Everything about my life centers on efficiency — the routes I take when I drive, how I go about getting ready for the day, how I organize my work…Keep reading