🧩 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.
The Two Business Principles That Govern Life
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 🧩Urgent Care 👂👂Alone Update 😔Rest 🛏️ It’s never a good sign when, less than two seconds after sticking a light in your ear and gazing through the little viewfinder thingy (patent pending), the doctor says, “Oooooooooh.” That was followed by a diagnosis of a “nasty” left ear infection and the question,…Keep reading
Fitting in — Nov. 25, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Alone 😔Christmas Changes🎄My Two Skillz 🔪 I would venture to guess that most of us like the feeling of fitting in somewhere. Even the most self-confident, secure person likes to have a tribe. We’re social creatures, and to have a place we just seem to slide into safely is a blessing.…Keep reading
Spouse+ Subscription — Nov. 23, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Marriage Talk 💑Requesting Money 💰Murder-Free 🔪 If you’ve been married as long as I have (rounding the corner and heading toward 26 years), you understand that conversations between spouses can sometimes be awfully weird. I mean, Wifey Poo and I have known each other more than 30 years now. How much…Keep reading
Coffee Hand — Nov. 22, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Man Cold? 🤒Balloon Analogy 🎈World Flop ⚽ If you want to know how my Monday started yesterday, I poured coffee all over my hand. It isn’t that I don’t know how to pour coffee. I’ve done it a billion times. It’s that, on this particular Monday, somewhere in between the start…Keep reading
Zoo Signs — Nov. 20, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Gorilla Harassment 🦍Brother Love 👨👦👦True Crime 🔪 My love of wild animals was fostered early in my childhood. Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom was appointment viewing for my family. I grew up with scenes of hungry cheetahs chasing down baby gazelles that included what’s not included on nature shows today ……Keep reading
No Slides Allowed — Nov. 17, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Presentation Skillz 📽️No Tribe 😔Fuck 45 🖕 There was a time not all that long ago, cosmically speaking, that the mere thought of standing up in front of a crowd and giving a talk would have made me want to throw up in my shoes. In fact, there has been a…Keep reading
What’s Funny? — Nov. 15, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Boss Kudos 🙌Chill Time 😌One In 8 Billion🧍 It always feels good when the Big Bossman comes up to you and shakes your hand for a job well done. That happened last night when El Presidente of our company congratulated me on the video I wrote, shot and produced for our…Keep reading
Engaged — Nov. 14, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩BTE and Div 💍Brother Greetings 👨👩👦👦Travel Day ✈️ The morning after Boy The Elder was born, I awoke in the hospital to his sweet cooing and his momma’s deep-sleep breathing. Scooping him up carefully and holding him nervously, I sat in a rocking chair in the pre-dawn darkness and talked to…Keep reading
Dying Democracy — Nov. 11, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Election Message 🗳️School Priorities 🏫Tickets Aplenty 🎫 It would seem to me that if a common sentiment from wise people following an election is that it’s a good thing the results were so muddled because it means not much will get done in the next two years, you’ve got yourself a…Keep reading
Fairy Tale — Nov. 9, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stephen King 🕮Legal Weed🌿Public Schools🏫 I read my first Stephen King book when I was in high school. It was summer, if I remember correctly, and everywhere I went, I carried a worn library copy of Pet Sematary. Since that time, King’s words have been a regular companion through every stage…Keep reading
Year In Music — Nov. 5, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Craze 🎵Back Crackin’👩⚕️To-Dos Done🚗 My year of music is over. And, my God, has it been good. It started on a sweltering mid-July afternoon at Hollywood Casino Amphitheater in which Wifey Poo and I watched my Backup Wife Jewel do her thing. It ended last night on an evening that…Keep reading
Update: My Favorite African — Nov. 3, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little D’s Return 🏥Irony 🔨Planet Killer 🌎 Being a host parent to a little boy from Africa (Burkina Faso, to be precise) was one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life. And now, that little boy is returning to the United States. For those not…Keep reading
Mega Billions — Nov. 2, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stupid IT Rules 🖥️The Bend 🚑Is The War Over? ✌️ Tonight, there will be a lottery drawing in which someone could win $1.2 billion. That someone won’t be me, as I didn’t buy a ticket, but it didn’t stop me from thinking about what I would and wouldn’t do with that…Keep reading
Fun Family — Nov. 1, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Family Dynamics 👪New Mattress 🛏️To Share Or Not To Share? ❓ Let’s say the only cracker you’ve ever eaten is a Saltine. You have no experience with any other crackers. In fact, you don’t even know that there is such a thing as other crackers. You might not love the Saltine,…Keep reading
Halloween Haters— Oct. 31, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ghosts of Halloween 👻Wrinkles 👴Words Spawn Action ✍️ Wifey Poo made a bold declaration about her opinion of Halloween on our drive back from Springfield, Missourah, Saturday afternoon: “Halloween is a great time for kids to dress up …” If you think there’s more to that statement, nope. She added: “Period.”…Keep reading
How I Do Me — Oct. 27, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Empath Life 🤗Earthquake 🌎Revolutionary Failure 😶 About six months after I started my career as a professional journalist, I started walking past this job opening in our company every time I walked in and out of the building. It was for editor of a weekly paper routinely ridiculed by those who…Keep reading
School Shooter Match Game — Oct. 24, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Game Time 🎮Family Picture📸Marriage Tips 🪢 I remember when it was simple. Horrible, yes … but simple. There was Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold and they matched up with Columbine — which, side note, would have been my high school had my parents not moved to NY when I was 2.…Keep reading
Helping the Homeless — Oct. 23, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Helper Bags 🆘What’s In The Bag?🎒Mini Golf ⛳ I was raised to avoid the homeless. Avoid eye contact. Avoid conversation. And most definitely avoid giving them anything they asked for. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this, which doesn’t make me feel any better. What was instilled in me as…Keep reading
Marcus F’n King — Oct. 21, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Books & Covers 🕮Seeking Balance ⚖️Weirdo🤪 We’re taught at an early age to not judge a book by its cover. If I remember correctly, that was impressed upon me sometime around the first grade. Yet to be honest, I don’t think it’s a lesson that ever really sunk in. I imagine…Keep reading
Political Ads — Oct. 20, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Illegals or Guns? 🤦Scrolling Through Stupidity 🖱️Worst Nurse Ever 👩⚕️ If there’s anything I hate more than politics and politicians, it’s political advertising. Cutting the cable cord has lessened its intrusiveness in my life, yet it still manages to seep in. Case in point: I was watching the Padres-Phillies game last…Keep reading
Chocolateman— Oct. 19, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Passion 🍫Sarcasm 😜Poop 💩 I appreciate people who are passionate about something. Well, except politics. Then I’d prefer it if you’d just keep your mouth shut. But if you’re super-interested in photography, goats, cooking, geocaching, quilting, etching … whatever … your enthusiasm feeds my soul. Which is part of the reason…Keep reading
Top 5 Things From The Past Week: Oct. 10-16 edition
Welcome to Issue No. 9 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. No. 5: I pledged to finish something I am a writer. If I’m going to be a…Keep reading
Evolution — Oct. 17, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Monkey Crap 🐒BTY Day 👨👦Incomplete Stories 🖊️ If you’re of the belief that human beings evolved from apes, I’m not here to try to dissuade you. What I am here to say is that, if evolution is true, we sure have come a long way. I say this after a trip…Keep reading
Basement Water — Oct. 15, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Personal Growth 🌱Mad Mom 😠Oh, Jeffrey 🧠 About a year ago, Arti The Wonder Therapist waited patiently for me to finish yet another of my amazing monologues detailing just how I felt about the various situations I was attempting to address in my life at the time and then calmly asked…Keep reading
Death! Death! Death! — Oct. 14, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cue the Outrage 🔫Animal Extinction 🐆Eye Update 👀 Even back in the day when I considered myself a Republican (before the dark times … before the Trumpire), I never quite understood the death penalty. Perhaps it was because I looked around at the other nations that still killed people as punishment…Keep reading
Corneal Complications — Oct. 13, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hello Darkness, My Old Friend 👀COVID Costs 🦠Jackass Jones Verdict👩⚖️ I’ve spent much of this week so far in forced darkness. After I wrote on Monday morning, my right eye started to get blurry. Then it got real blurry. Then it became utterly useless. In this, I have reprised my role…Keep reading
Mattress Shopping — Oct. 10, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Awkward Shopping 🛏️Disingenuous Holiday 🗓️Help the Homeless 😔 If there’s a more awkward retail excursion than mattress shopping, I have yet to find it in my 48 years. Wifey Poo and I went to a high school gym to do exactly that on Sunday afternoon. The bed we’ve been sleeping in…Keep reading
So Long, Cards — Oct. 9, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Playoff Disappointment ⚾Oh, Britney 📲Friendship Failure 😔 In the span of just more than 24 hours, I went from the excited expectation of being in Busch Stadium to watch the hometown St. Louis Cardinals eliminate the Philadelphia Phillies and advance to the next round of the playoffs to watching those Phillies…Keep reading
Playoff Baseball — Oct. 6, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Baseball Gear-Grinders ⚾Sunrise Woes 🌄Heavy Pumpkins 🎃 There are a few baseball-related indignities in my home that, as the saying goes, grind my gears. The first is that there is a state championship trophy on the mantel above the fireplace in our Humble Country Home with a gold-plated baseball player, bat…Keep reading
There Will Be Blood — Oct. 5, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Wound Treatment 🧂Phillies Bring Doom ⚾Meetings Suck 👎🏽 Apparently, I’ll take medical advice from waitresses and allow myself to receive medical treatment from busboys. This, I learned last night. I have a tendency to get hurt in really interesting ways. When I tell you that I once got a concussion…Keep reading
Top 5 Things From The Past Week: 9/26-10/2
Welcome to Issue No. 8 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. No. 5: I held an epic car concert If you were anywhere in the vicinity of my…Keep reading
Place Your Bets — Oct. 3, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Football Picking God 🏈Fish Story 🐟Free Floating ☁️ A few months before Boy The Elder was born, I had about $100 set aside to buy Wifey Poo a gift that I intended to give her after she ushered our child into the world. It was the least I could do for,…Keep reading
Sliced Bread — Sept. 30, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩New Route Home 🏎️Confirmed Weirdness 🤪Here’s Your Sign 🤦 I took a new route home from the western part of Missourah yesterday after doing the whole open-house thing for work in St. Joseph. Rather than shoot down to I-70 and traverse the state on that familiar road, I went across Hwy.…Keep reading
Rental Tank — Sept. 29, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Woo-Woo vs. The Beast 🛻Dart Throwers 🎯My Job 📋 I am not used to driving a tank. My normal vehicle is Woo-Woo, AKA The Shitty Little Car, AKA a Nissan Versa. It’s practical. It gets great gas mileage. I hate it. Woo-Woo normally accelerates as quickly as a child asked to…Keep reading
LinkedIn — Sept. 26, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Unwitting Guinea Pigs 🐹False Bragging 🦹♂️Put Me In, Coach 🚀 My regular readers (hey, you three!) know that I have a hatred for social media’s influence on society with an intensity rivaled only by the heat of a thousand suns. The latest bit of “Are you fucking kidding me?” comes from…Keep reading
Top 5 Things From The Past Week: 9/9-9/25
Welcome to Issue No. 7 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. No. 5: I reached out to a friend I have not been shy about sharing that I’ve…Keep reading
iPhone Envy — Sept. 25, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩More Stupid Human Stuff 📱KC Trip ⚾Miserable Missourah 😠 Quick: Take a look around you. If you’re in a room with five other people, one of them thinks you’re financially struggling if you don’t have the latest iPhone. That’s according to a new survey following the release of the iPhone 14.…Keep reading
Human Babies — Sept. 23, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Loser Species 👶Email Win 📧Dad Pride 👨👦👦 I’m pretty sure I’m not normal. Normal people respond to that statement with, “Oh, John, nobody’s normal,” which is just a sign for us non-normies that the person we’re talking to is normal. Yesterday, I was waiting for Wifey Poo to pick me up…Keep reading
In It — Sept. 22, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Concert Thoughts 🧠Marriage 💍Drunk Idiots 🧉 There’s this scene in the 2004 movie Garden State in which Sam (Natalie Portman) looks at Andrew (Zach Braff) and notices … … And yeah, that resonated with me then and resonates with me now. Ever since then, being “in it” has become a thing…Keep reading
Remembering Sarah — Sept. 21, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sadness 😥Beautiful Skies ⛅Two Terms For 2022 ✌️ Back in our early days at Pound Ridge Elementary School, Sarah was the fastest girl runner in the class, which bought her some serious playground cred. There were only a few of us boys who could hang with Sarah in the 50-meter dash…Keep reading
Small Ear Canal — Sept. 19, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ear Flushing👂Grunge God🎶Tech Guy📺 If you have to have a doctor tell you a body part or yours is small, I suppose one of the least offensive would be the ear canal. That’s what a doctor told me this morning, after I finally broke down and actually went to said doctor’s…Keep reading
Sunday Randomness — Sept. 18, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Two, Four, Six, Eight👑Tips💰Book Buying📖 Some random thoughts from the week that was: Today’s Reasons to Keep LivingKeep reading
Nominee Day! — Sept. 16, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Toys in the Hall🪅Idiot Governors🗳️Flopping FedEx✈️ Last night in my hotel in Springfield, Missourah, I set out a glass of milk and a plate of cookies before going to bed. It’s not that I don’t know how to read a calendar or have any particular belief in a fat man in…Keep reading
Springfields Aplenty — Sept. 15, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Which One?🗺️Leave Introverts Alone🤫Oxford Commas🤪 I’m on the road for work this week, in Springfield. Ahhh, but Springfield what? There currently are 35 populated places in the United States named Springfield, spread out over 25 states, including five in Wisconsin. In addition, there are 35 Springfield Townships, and Ohio owns 11…Keep reading
F’n COVID — Sept. 13, 2022
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Surrounded 😷Wood Splitter 🌲Morons 🤪 I’ve had COVID. Twice. The first time fucked up my life for a year. I’m still not back to the me I was before it came into my home, and I’m pretty sure that now, nearly two years later, that’s not going to change. The second…Keep reading