🧩 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 🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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.…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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,…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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.…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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,…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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.…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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?…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 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,…Keep reading
🧩 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…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Media Bias 📰Rudy’s Sandals 🩴Lack of Faith ⚖️ I’ve watched with interest the blowback against newspaper tyrant Gannett following its reminder to its journalists in the wake of the Supreme Court’s undoing of Roe v. Wade that they are not to take sides on social media. “You cannot use social media…Keep reading