🧩 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 🧩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 🧩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 🧩Burn Pit🔥Alaska Ass🍑Nose Hair🐽 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…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
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Censorship 🍈🍈Newspaper Talk 📰Toothbrush 🦷 I did my first actual “work” thing at my new job yesterday. The first two-plus days have been filled with meeting new people and learning about the kazillion awesome products we sell so I can talk somewhat intelligently about what we do. But then Nu Bossman…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hitler Talk ⚖️Chicken Postscript 🐣Green Seats ⚾ I wonder when the average German in the 1930s/1940s said something akin to “Oh shit.” There has to be a point when the rational, sane sauerkraut-lover realized that perhaps his or her vote for a certain mustachioed politician was a really bad idea. For…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Take Me Away🛀Period Tracker🩸Choose Wisely💒 Arriving for the first day at a new job is kind of like showing up in a new town after throwing away your old identity. It’s a blank slate, and you can be anyone you’d like to be. Want to go by a different name? Go…Keep reading