🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
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.
Whether its the economy or human emotions, everything about us is geared toward responding to these two things. For example, when there are only a handful of houses on the market being sold and a kazillion Gen-Zers looking to buy a home, prices rise and people act insane because of the perceived scarcity.
Similarly, if your spouse — a normally affectionate person — begins to act cold or distant — your brain and body react negatively from the scarcity of what once was prevalent.
An interesting thing about the nature of these two forces is that they tend to take care of themselves and create a variety of different cycles. When too few houses are on the market and prices rise, more people who own homes see the opportunity to cash in and put their dwellings up for sale. Voila! Supply increases, scarcity goes does … and prices drop.
If you have a spouse whose affection disappears, you have several options — not all of them healthy. You’re going to find that affection and decrease the scarcity, whether it’s through a conversation to lay your cards on the table, increased affection yourself toward your partner in the hopes of spurring a return of the same or, sadly, in the presence of another. Either way, you’re hardwired to take care of the scarcity problem.
The pain we’re all feeling right now with the economy is caused by these same two forces. A variety of government interventions skewed the supply/demand curves. Flush with cash, demand for stuff rose. That’s one of the reasons why you need to take out a mortgage to buy chicken wings right now — and sell a kidney to pay for the gas to drive to the store to buy them.
Interest rate hikes, which we saw again this week, are meant to hurt your purchasing ability. With lower demand, prices fall.
It works. We’re already seeing it happen. Everyone’s favorite people-watching venue, Wal-Mart, announced this week that it’s having to drop prices on items that aren’t moving. People still are buying food, but they’re pushing off purchases of everything from appliances and clothes. Lower prices will eventually bring people back.
The housing market is self-correcting, as homeowners are no longer receiving 385 offers above the $300,000 asking price for that one bedroom crack-infested shack in which those five girls were murdered last year. High mortgage rates are pushing people out of the market, lessening demand. Homeowners are all “Oh, shit! We’re gonna miss the top of the market!” and scrambling to sell before home values decline sharply. And they likely will decline sharply.
This is just a friendly reminder: Nothing is permanent. No matter where you find yourself today, things will change. No one can say that the next change will be for the better. I wish I could, but I’ve also learned the hard way to avoid saying such foolish things as “Well, at least it can’t get any worse.”
Yet I’ll say it again: Things will change. Please recognize one thing, though: The greatest change agent in your life is not the government, the economy, a global pandemic, your job situation or your suddenly unaffectionate spouse. It’s you. Go make something happen today.
I woke up this morning a day into another trip around the sun. Way back when I was 47 (two days ago), I could bluff my way into thinking “Dude, 47 is, like, close to 45, so yeah, I’m just gonna round down.” Now I’m officially on the back half of that half-decade, so I might as well just say I’m 50.
I’m not sure how I feel about this.
Life hasn’t been the same since I got COVID in November 2020. The part where I was actually contagious wasn’t that bad, but the next year sure as hell was. Longhaul COVID blows, and when I look at me before and compare that person to me now, there are differences.
I wake up nearly every morning with stiff, achy hands. I have had a foul taste in my mouth every single goddamn day since I became infected, and there are times that this threatens to drive me bonkers. Still, every once in a while (and today is one of those days), my brain just can’t. And if you asked me to explain any of this in more detail, even a storyteller like me can’t find the precisely right words. I’m just off.
I’m proud of myself because I’ve found ways around it. It took about nine months of doctor’s appointments and whining before I put on my big-boy pants and found the things that work for me and allow me to get as closely as possible back to the me I was. Yet if I’m being honest, I’ve never fully come back. Not yet, anyway. And there’s absolutely zero guarantees that I ever will. I’ve become mostly OK with that.
Listen, I get that some people have it far worse. I’m a part of the Longhaulers community, so I see the stories and I’ve met the people. In comparison, I’m good. Yet that doesn’t make me any more me than if I’d never seen the stories or met the people. I’m still Me, Different.
So yeah, here we go on another trip around the sun. New adventures await. I’m certainly better off than when I started the last trip. It took a helluva long time, but in confronting some long-ago demons and never stopping until I found the things that work, I’ve improved my life beyond measure. I have answers, yes, but more importantly, I’ve found solutions.
So there’s some cautious optimism in me, optimism that, though I’m different than I was pre-COVID, I’m good.
When my last remaining grandparent died earlier this month four days shy of her 96th birthday, a lot of us who loved her said some form of “I don’t want to live that long.” Yet none of us knows exactly when we’d say, “Ya know what? I’m good.” That said, I’ve seen a lot, done a lot … survived a lot. This place is hard. There still are things I want to experience … my kids getting married and having babies of their own, Alaska with Wifey Poo, a muscle car of my very own in my driveway. But largely, even if today was the day, I’m good.
I know I can say this without hesitation: I’ve tried. I haven’t always succeeded; far from it. But I’ve tried.
Some quick hitters:
- I love discovering new songs, even if they’re not necessarily new to the world. This is my latest favorite. I feel this.
- It’s Mother Dearest’s birthday today. Had she waited about three more hours back in 1974, I would have been her birthday present. Things between us … how can I put this? … aren’t good. Yet I hope she has a good birthday.
- I spent three hours yesterday working on what turned out to be 20 seconds of a commercial for a product at work. They’re the best damn 20 seconds of video I’ve ever produced.
- The torrential downpour yesterday afternoon cleared out in time for our evening plans. The Core Four + Div went to an O’Fallon Hoots baseball game. The team plays in a summer league for college prospects. Let me just say that, if yesterday’s game was any indication, no one in the Majors has anything to worry about in terms of a Hoot coming for their job anytime soon. Baseball’s a hard game. Errors happen. But the number of mental miscues was astounding. There was everything from a runner holding up and watching a fly ball with two outs instead of running it out, to a bases-loaded, one-out smash that the third basemen, for some reason, went home with instead of turning an easy inning-ending 5-4-3 double play. That miscue led to four more runs before the final out of the inning was made. I never was the most talented person on the field when I played the game, but most of the time, I was the smartest, and it’s amazing how far that can take you if you somehow are able to match up smarts with talent.
- Hearing someone’s job is a “YouTube Content Creator” — and they bring in millions of dollars — makes me want to jump off a bridge.
- Speaking of millions of dollars, my sister-in-law got me a Mega Millions ticket for my birthday. The drawing is tonight. The jackpot is roughly $1 billion. I do promise I’ll through her a mill should I win.
- The Core Four agrees: If we did win that jackpot, we’re telling no one. And I’ll say the Ferrari I’m driving is because I took out a big loan or something.
For as much as we try to complicated it with heady notions such as meaning, purpose and lasting significance, life essentially can be boiled down to two principles with roots in economics. Strip away all the not-unworthy teachings from self-help books, leadership seminars and religious institutions, and what you’ll find is that humans act as…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Getaway weekend with Wifey Poo to plan for our future!
- I’m renting a boss Toyota Supra for the journey.
- I have to finish this stinkin’ video before I die.
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🧩 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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