🧩 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 🧩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
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Racist Billboard🐲Roe Silence😶Guest Bulldog🐶 Driving out of rural northern Arkansas today to return home after several days in a cabin in the boonies, I passed a billboard that was startling, to say the least. It starts off innocently enough with a very true statement: “It’s not racist to 💗 people.” I…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Uranus Sleeper🔭Cabin Rules🩲Taco Seasoning🌮 What does Cuba, Uranus, Sleeper, Doolittle and a billboard saying “If we don’t return to 2 Chronicles, than were finished” have in common? They all were on the route from my Humble Rural Missourah Home to the cabin in the boonies of Arkansas that is my home…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Check Engine 🚗Declined 🥡Murder Suspect 🔪 Every once in awhile, life throws you a pleasant surprise that seems to even the score a bit. Wifey Poo’s car is up for an emissions inspection this year. Her “check engine” light has been going on and off for a year or so, and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩River Thoughts 🛶Little Annoyances 😠Birthday Boy 🎂 I didn’t know what a float trip was until I met Wifey Poo. I’m not even sure today that the term “float trip” is used outside Missourah. But if you’re a Missourahn, when someone says, “Wanna go on a float trip?” you know a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩My Boys 👨👦👦Work Drinking🥃Feeling Good 😎 I’ve understood since seventh-grade science class how a child is a somewhat random and yet somewhat traceable mish-mash of his parents and their parents and their parents ad infinitum. It’s so cool to see that play out with my own boys. Boy The Elder is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Stinger 🦂Inflation 🎈Housing Costs 🏘️ There’s something quite amazing about witnessing a human dinosaur be thrown through a stack of four tables. That was just one of the scenes from last night as Boys The Elder & Younger and I attended AEW Dynamite and Rampage. The biggest news from the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shitty Goodbye 💩Bald Is Beautiful 👨🦲Housing Market 🏘️ It’s official: My duty ensuring the continued breathing of roughly 20 chickens for Wifey Poo’s and Boy The Younger’s vacationing friends is over. Success! All birds were present and accounted for this morning, as I said goodbye to my new friends — Gertrude,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩CrytpoStupidity ₿Coffee Seltzer ☕Chicken Update🐓 I like to make fun of Matt Damon. I know this comes from a place of deep-seated insecurity because Matt Damon is, well, Matt Damon and I am not. Yet it’s fun to make fun of Matt Damon, precisely because he is Matt Damon — all…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Meatloaf🦎Ugly Fish🐟Chicken Update🐓 You can buy insurance for many things. Your car. Your home. Your boat. Your health. Your eyes, teeth or brain (which, for some reason, is separate from your health). And now, according to a Missourah court, you can buy insurance that pays you if you contract a sexually…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Kentucky Fried Idiot 🍗Johnny Boy Marketing✏️Airplanes!🛦🛦🛦🛦🛦 There’s a scene in the 1979 film Rocky II in which the titular character (sorry, I’ve always wanted to write that …) is tasked by his trainer Mickey with chasing a chicken. Rocky was pummeled into oblivion — though somehow managed to eek out a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Rogue Golfers 🐝Nay Voters🐟Chicken Day🥤 Golfers are known as being a genial sort. Whereas a basketball player could maul an opponent driving the lane, leaving him bloody and unconscious, and still complain about the foul called on him, golfers actually call fouls on themselves! Yet the world of professional golf is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bees Suck 🐝Bees As Fish🐟Cup O’ Pee🥤 I hate bees. Yes, I know they’re somehow the lynchpin on which our species’ survival will turn, but seriously, if we’re so fragile that we’re depending on a stinging invertebrate to keep us going, well, perhaps we’re not really so special after all. My…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Poultry Responsibilities 🐔Fine Dining🥩Crappy Year For Music🎵 I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a marketing guy, a storyteller, a jokester, a damn good parallel parker and a guy who played on a basketball team that lost 135-3. What I am not is a farmer. I left my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩NASCAR President ₿Creepy Coffee☕Chef BTE 🍖 We all know that just about every politician at any level is, in some way, bought and paid for, right? I mean, perhaps your local school board representative isn’t (though she might be owned by her kid), but when you reach the state and national…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dessert, Not Desert 🍨Happy Belated Birthday, McLovin 🎁Men Kissing 🏳️🌈 I started out my career in the news business and quickly learned that people suck. I mean, back in the mid-1990s, the internet was just becoming a thing — we even capitalized it … Internet … and wrote “e-mail” instead of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩New Job🧑💼Happy Times🤗Small World ⚾ Buckle up. It’s story time. Today I made a reservation for Ruth’s Chris steakhouse on Sunday for me, Wifey Poo and Boys The Elder and Younger. The Core Four is getting dressed up. Keep in mind, we are not Ruth’s Chris people. It’s not that we…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Pants on the Ground👖Pimp Slap✋Pissin’ in the Wind🌬️ I had occasion to wear a suit yesterday. This was notable because I evidently hadn’t worn said suit in about a year. Over those 365 days, I’ve lost roughly 30 pounds. Thus, I showed up to the engagement necessitating a suit looking like…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chainsaws Suck🪓Early Arrival✈️Shrimp on the Barbie🦐 I awoke bright and early this morning, kissed Wifey Poo on the forehead and went outside ready to put chainsaw to felled tree. I live far enough out in the country that crankin’ up a chainsaw at 6:30 a.m. on a holiday morning isn’t a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Racin’🏎️Heat☀️Gorilla Guy🦍 When I was a small boy, the Indianapolis 500 was must-see TV. I’m not sure exactly how it started, but it must have been around 1978 — when I was a 4-year-old boy who loved Matchbox cars and big wrecks. It was around that time that Pops brought home…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩My Fullback 🚑Sicky Poo 🤒Helium Shortage 🎈 I don’t get paid anywhere close to enough to deal with St. Louis traffic when it rains. Not that St. Louis drivers are uniquely bad. I would imagine large swaths of drivers in other cities react just as poorly to the presence of moisture…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Taking Toys Away 🔫Checked Out ✈️Windsurfing Kid 🌬️ Many moons ago, I had a toy rubber snake. That my parents would have allowed such a purchase is shocking, given that Mother Dearest was terrified of anything remotely reptilian and Sister wasn’t that far behind. Yet there, in the depths of my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shut Up🤫Waffle House 🧇Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes🤗 So here’s something I don’t quite understand: Why is anyone, especially our political leaders, expressing “shock” over what happened in Texas yesterday. Dude … the sun rose yesterday. The sun has risen every single freaking day for the course of humanity. The sun will rise tomorrow. That’s…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Subway Obsession😞Guard Dog 🐶Chainsaw John🪓 Every child is peculiar in his or her own way. It’s an early indication we all should recognize that none of us is normal. We’re all weird. And that’s OK. Boy The Younger has always had his peculiarities. As a small child, he was fascinated with…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Musical History🎹Why Write? 🖊️Loser Level😔 We finally have only one piano in our house! Now, don’t get to thinking we’re this uber-musical family. We’re not. Wifey Poo, from what I hear, was a helluva clarinetist back in her day and did, indeed, take piano lessons. Boy The Elder is really good…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beyond Tired😫Busting Ass 🐝Covid Sadness😔 Everything is knowable. When I look back at the pace of change in my life, I think that’s the biggest difference between my life as a child and my life as an adult. Back then, if you wondered something, you just … wondered it. I mean,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sad Anniversary😞My Back! 😳Dachau😭 Thirty-five years ago today, my first grandparent died. Grandpa was my favorite grandparent, and in looking back, I think it was because of his willingness to join my world. Grandpa played games with me endlessly. He taught me how to play rummy. He would spend hours on…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bye-Bye BTE✈️Rival Riot Rumble 🤼♂️Old Man John🤕 In a few hours, Boy The Elder will board a plane headed for Germany. He just completed his sophomore year at Mizzou, and now he’s going overseas for a two-week study-abroad session in which he’ll allegedly learn more about food science and fermentation and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Double-U🧸Big Sis 🦸♀️Preggo Healer 🤰 Anyone remember Speak & Spell? If you’ve seen E.T., you’ve seen it before. Don’t know why, but I was thinking about this toy the other day. For some reason, spelling wasn’t school if you had one of these things to play with. I can still hear…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Heat Wave🥵Lawn Mowing🚜Last Podcast 🎙️ It’s hotter than balls outside in my section of Missourah, and I’m not happy about it. I am not a hot-weather person. I hate heat. I sweat easily. I turn red even easier. Having a bald head does not match well with sun exposure. And has…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Friends😔What To Do?🙋Creepy Dolls 🎎 Yesterday was a rough day. It’s one thing to be a person with essentially no friends. It’s another thing altogether to not be friends with yourself. That’s where I was yesterday — all up in my head and imagining the worst was about to happen in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Losing Money 🥊The Best F’N Mom Ever👩Heat 🥵 Wifey Poo and I took our weekly date Saturday and went to the city made famous in the original National Lampoon’s Vacation movie: East St. Louis. No, East St. Louis isn’t in Missouri and no, it’s not a popular data destination, but what…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩One Long Sentence 🖊️Birthday Boy🎂Wine & Chocolate 🍷🍫 I remember being a kid and wanting to be an adult. I wanted to drive and have a girlfriend and be able to do whatever it was that I wanted to do, not what someone else said I should do. And now, here…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ink Stain 🖊️Big Week 🎂Gas Pumps 😂 If getting a link of ink right across the front of your shirt while trying to catch a falling pen isn’t one of the Mondayest of Monday things that can happen to a dude, I’m sure there aren’t too many things that can beat…Keep reading