🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
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 Chick-fil-A one day and was as tall as his mother. Now he’s as tall as I am — OK, fine … maybe a smidge taller — and extremely fit and strong.
Sometimes that growth is less obvious to the eye of a casual observer and more apparent to one who has been around these creatures their entire lives. This was the case Sunday.
BTE has an interesting assembly of friends gleaned from a variety of different places — the aforementioned Chick-Fil-A, various homeschool things, college and church. Together, they are the definition of a motley crew, not to be confused with Motley Crue, though BTE plays a mean lead guitar.
In the past year, BTE has grown interested in becoming a Car Guy, and his collection of buddies enables this. Greg is a nice kid, extremely talkative and opinionated, and (not but) handy with all things automotive. He’s been instructing BTE on how to do things such as change his oil and know when a spark plug needs to be replaced. Yesterday, the focus was on BTY’s 2011 Dodge Avenger’s brakes.
That BTE would even attempt this is impressive to me. There he was, with Greg and a few other CFA pals, the car up on jack stands in my garage.
Let’s just say it didn’t go as planned.
To be fair, the first problem wasn’t their fault. The company they ordered the new brakes from sent the wrong part, a thing recognized belatedly after a helpful hint from dear old Dad, who said amidst the growing frustrations, “Have you checked the part number?”
The second was more of an oopsie than a “What the hell were you thinking!?” They stripped a lug nut that remains tightly fastened on one wheel.
Previous iterations of BTE would have catastrophically melted down at these things. Wifey Poo would likely (correctly) assert that would have been Dad’s reaction as well. Yet he largely kept his cool, which, to me, was impressive.
During this entire eight-hour-plus ordeal, Boy The Younger was showing his own skills as a tinkerer. Wifey Poo asked him if he needed the shoebox to his new shoes, and he at first said “No.” This was quickly followed by “Wait wait wait wait!” and a two-hour project in which he turned it and some other stray cardboard into a half-pipe for his Tech Decks, which, if you haven’t seen them, are tiny skateboards you maneuver with your fingers that are designed to drive parents insane with the constant “click click click click” as they are used.
That both boys would tackle their own hands-on projects belies their upbringing by their dad, who is hands-on only insofar as his writing is done on a keyboard that needs finger input to translate his weird brain into words and sentences. In their Sunday projects, I see how much my boys have grown.
BTE’s car remains on jack stands in my garage. The new and hopefully correctly sized brakes should be here Wednesday, and even in that there’s tremendous growth in my son. He and his buds handled customer service with the company firmly and effectively.
BTY’s half-pipe is done and ready for his next video that he’ll post on his YouTube channel at some point. Or maybe he won’t. For BTY, it’s so much more about the journey than the destination.
These are the moments in which all the trials and toughness of being a dad seem exceedingly worth it.
I am fascinated by dreams. I mean, here we are, walking around in our day-to-day lives, doing things. Then, we get tired of doing all that stuff, our eyes close, and suddenly we’re experiencing a different world.
If you want to get really trippy, let’s challenge our definition of what’s “real life” and what’s “just a dream.” What if what’s real are the things we’re doing in our dreams and then we “get tired” of doing that and “wake up” into what really is the alternative reality? What exactly is reality, anyway? Woo-wee. That’s a topic for another day.
I have long had two types of dreams. There are the dreams that are essentially day residue. You have an experience in your waking life, and then your brain, in the process of trying to make sense of it before filing it away, shoves some part of it together with some other stuff, and suddenly you’re trying to run away from King Kong while your mother tells you that you can’t leave until you grab a sweater.
What? Just me?
Anywhooooo, then there are the types of dreams that I’ve come to realize are giving me a glimpse into what I can only describe as Higher Truth. I started having these dreams around the seventh grade, and when I or someone else would try to pass them off as “just a dream,” I would know that wasn’t true.
What those dreams actually are is a matter of opinion, and, as with all matters of faith, there’s no way of knowing if you’re defining the word “knowing” in earthly terms. My personal opinion on my own “next level” dreams are that they are glimpses of whatever comes next that seep into this world and on the brain, otherwise occupied, trips up in its role as goalie and lets by. That is a woefully inadequate definition of what I feel these “dreams” truly are, but I’m pretty sure there aren’t words for it anyway, so I’m going to leave it there.
Here’s what I do know, or at least, what I truly believe: The brain is not always our friend and is entirely separate from consciousness. The brain’s mission is survival, and to do that, it blocks out stuff that doesn’t make sense and that focuses us on things besides what’s Here. What’s There is of no importance to our brains, because when we go There, our brains are dead.
Our consciousness is not.
I can tell you that I “dreamed” of what comes next on one night in April of 2021, but I also firmly believe that was as far from a dream as chocolate is from vanilla. I am quite certain I saw There, that I was There. When I came back from that amazing, glorious, comforting place of ultimate contentment — which, I might add, had absolutely no streets paved with gold, billowing clouds, pearly gates and signs that read “Christians Only (or Muslims, Jews, etc.) All Other Burn In Hell,” — I knew that was most definitely not “just a dream.”
And yes, I fully understand that this makes me sound like a nutcase. I’m OK with that. I think we all are, to some degree or another.
Last night, I had a dream about being in the middle of a mass shooting in Las Vegas. I have been to Vegas once, for a work conference Wifey Poo accompanied me on in 2018, I believe. I am most assuredly not saying that anyone in Las Vegas should be wary because I’m some sort of future-seer. I’m not. This wasn’t one of those dreams.
It was, however, a sign that the tensions of this world are seeping into my brain and leaving it unsettled. I have never before dreamed of a mass shooting, yet in this one, there was most definitely the thought that this was part of societal breakdown and that these things are going to occur and occur and occur and occur, to the point where we start dramatically altering where we go, when we go and how we go.
The dream was horrendous, starting first with a bird’s-eye view of people running chaotically in all directions while the sounds of gunfire echoed from here, there and everywhere. I watched as people were shot … in the stomach, in the head, sometimes multiple times.
It then plopped me and BTY right in the middle of the terror in search of a place to hide, and, failing to find one, I simply wrapped him up in my arms and tried to cover as much of him as I could with my own body. It’s what I’d like to think I would do if this happened in real life.
I awoke to news of a shooting in Indiana that likely would have been far worse, were it not for a 22-year-old with a concealed carry permit.
There is absolutely no connection between my dream and the event that happened Sunday afternoon, well before I went to sleep. What there is, though, is a whole lot of creeping dread about what is going on in our country … at least, there is with me.
I spent a good chunk of Sunday morning reorganizing and decorating my Mancave. Whether it truly is a mancave or not is up for debate. I’m fine if you want to call it a home office used almost exclusively by me but available to Wifey Poo especially considering I’m no longer WFH.
Whatever it is, I moved what was over here over there and what was over there over here. I hung up my paltry but hopefully growing collection of weird and cool signs up on one wall, leaving room for new ones to be placed leftward as I find them/buy them. I ordered what I needed for what one day soon will be an entire wall of baseball cards. I explored options for a new floor lamp to replace the ugly one I inherited. I created a better spot to do my meditation thang.
Now, it feels good … somehow more right.
In Other Writing
🔻 What’s Below 🔻What shows our vulnerability 👨🏼🦳👨🏾🦳What step we’re currently on 🎈What the spark would be 💥 Ahhh, Dystopia, that imagined land where we watch zombies and Katniss and Mark Zuckerberg dance a creepy new form of the tango while asking ourselves, “If that’s what things are going to be like after The Fall,…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- BTY has two more baseball tryouts this week. I can’t wait to learn what the future holds for him.
- Gotta see how the saga of BTE’s car brakes ends.
- We’re heading to Silver Dollar City this weekend.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dumb Gubment 🦅Dawg Party 🐶Flying African ✈️ We as modern Muricans tend to just accept that it’s the gubment’s job to educate our children. Of course, when other countries that aren’t our friends do that, we call it “indoctrination,” but that’s a topic for another day. The topic for today is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Costly Mortality ☠️Crazies, Unite 🤪Defining ‘Appointment’ 🦷 I’m getting ready to die. Sounds ominous, right? Dramatic? Scary? It’s not. Oh yes, in a certain light, it’s depressing as hell. But what it really involved was a meeting with an attorney that Wifey Poo and I had yesterday to figure out exactly…Keep reading
🧩 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 email@example.com. 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
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Knicks Memory 🏀JBM LLC 🧑🏼💼Brain Drain 🧠 My most memorable interaction with Paul Silas occurred when I was a 17-year-old kid with big dreams of being a sports reporter. I’d talked with Paul before — his wife and Mother Dearest were active in the local Make A Wish Foundation chapter and…Keep reading