🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
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 Twain, and as any hometown of one of the world’s most preeminent authors would do, Mr. Clemens’ town leans strongly into it.
We stayed in a room in the magnificent Garth Woodside Mansion, which now is a bed-and-breakfast. I would imagine this place is haunted, but I’m not about to ask.
That’s not the story, though.
Friday night, Wifey Poo and I arrived, unpacked our things and, seizing an incredibly rare summer opportunity in Missourah, decided to sit outside in air that was shockingly un-humid. The mansion has a wrap-around porch, as all good mansions do, and there are rocking chairs placed thoughtfully in pairs here and there. Wifey Poo and I sat down, and she soon noticed a spider waaaaay up at the top of the porch overhang, chillin’ in his (or her) web.
A few moments later, in the middle of a sentence, she stopped to exclaim, “What is THAT?!?!?” Turns out it was a frog, scaling the chain of a hanging plant, headed northward.
“It’s going after dinner,” said I, well-schooled on nature documentaries as both a child and an adult.
The two of us watched in raptured silence as the frog ascended the chain before stopping parallel to its intended main course.
“It’s gonna wait until the spider gets closer,” I postulated, thinking I was going to see just how long this frog’s tongue was.
The spider, perhaps sensing its name on the dinner menu, stayed a respectful distance away from the new patron.
That’s when it happened.
The frog, not wanting to play nature’s game anymore, leaped from the chain, directly at the spider. And here’s the thing: He got there. I don’t know how. It was akin to setting the Olympic long-jump record … but starting from a standstill.
There was just one problem.
The frog might have been brilliant to sense the spider waaaaaaay up at the top of the overhang from his spot on the floor. He might have been amazingly nimble to find a way onto the hanging plant and then ascend all the way to spiderville. He might have been astoundingly athletic to reach the stubborn spider that wouldn’t cooperate with his initial idea.
But he didn’t have an exit plan.
Having crossed the divide and reached his prey, the frog (and the spider) was suddenly overcome by a force beyond both their understanding: Gravity. And so Wifey Poo and I watched in shocked amazement as both frog and spider plummeted toward the earth, beyond the porch railing and into the bushes.
I’d like to think they both survived. I’d like to think they landed right next to each other and, having made it through the ordeal, found a new appreciation for each other. I’d like to think the two dusted themselves off and right now are hanging out together, having a beer, saying, “Can you believe that shit went down?”
Yet if you do some math — which I, of course, am not going to do — that fall was big. We’re talking King-Kong-from-the-Empire-State-Building big. And that didn’t end well for King Kong.
Twas beauty that killed the beast. And hunger that killed the frog.
So why were Wifey Poo and I in Hannibal? To plan our future. This is, in many ways, laughable, because if there’s anything our 25 years of marriage should have taught us, it’s that whatever you’d like to call the creator of the universe tends to find our plans humorous and entirely not in line with his/her/its way of doing business. Yet there we were, marinading in the essence of Mark Twain, deciding what to do with our money and our time.
We’ve largely ignored this topic for most of a decade. When I started struggling with various health issues, we rapidly obliterated our savings trying to keep our household going. Then, as I rebounded, I worked a succession of jobs in which I was woefully underpaid.
Now, I have a job that’s paying me what I’m worth, and I have a growing side gig to boot. I also have a kid in college and a 13-year-old who deserves the same sort of parental support his brother had, and we have a house more in line with 1970s-Brady-Bunch-chic with creaky floors that drive each of us nuts. We were far more than library-book overdue to figure out a common direction for our family.
By the end of the day Saturday, we had our plan. The first half of the session was spent in a great coffee joint called Java Jive, with our laptops open like a couple of Gen-Zers. The second half was spent in the dining room of the Garth Woodside Mansion. Wifey Poo got to see me at my working-world best, guiding us through a pre-developed agenda that essentially was a SWOT analysis and goal-setting worksheet. I’ve been in enough of those meetings during my career to satisfy a few lives. She brought her “A” game, complete with her typical level-headed, rational, intelligent analysis and frequent reality checks. I gotta admit, she’s damn sexy when she’s like that. 🙂
Wifey Poo are unbeatable when we’re on the same page. We’ve taken to repeating a new mantra as often as possible: Us. Always Us. Shoulder to Shoulder. Always Us.
The marital bed Wifey Poo and I share is immense. I think the definition for it is a California King, but even that might be underselling it.
This isn’t how we started out. Early in our marriage, we had a standard queen bed and slept comfortably intertwined in each other’s love, randomly bumping into each other in the darkness, finding such things endearing and charming. It might even have been a double. I’m not up on bed sizes, as you can tell.
As our marriage has progressed, Wifey Poo and I have grown to increasingly value our sleeping space. When we travel, we try to find at least a king bed in the room we’re going to lay our heads at night. Mansions kept in the Victorian style don’t have king beds. For the past two nights, well, let’s just say Wifey Poo and I have both realized how much we love our California King.
Bad bosses shouldn’t be. Of course, I’ve never met anyone who self-identifies as a bad boss, yet we all know they’re out there, and yes, indeed, without a shadow of a doubt, they do suck. I’ve had more than my fair share of bad bosses over the course of my career, from the one who…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Gotta stick around to live the plan Wifey Poo and I created.
- Some really good concerts are in my near future — Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Shinedown and Gin Blossoms.
- Boy The Elder and I are going to the IndyCar race in a few weekends.
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🧩 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 🧩Change 🌀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. Scarcity. Whether its the economy or human emotions, everything about us is geared toward responding to these two things. For example, when there…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