🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Fallin’ Thoughts 🤕
The brain can be surprisingly efficient when the meatsack it’s attached to is in the middle of falling off a ladder while holding a revved-up chainsaw. This, I learned yesterday morning while attempting to saw a limb off a tree that was getting way too close to the kitchen window.
The plan was simple:
- Put a ladder up near the tree.
- Climb a few rungs.
- Start the chainsaw.
- Chop off the limb.
- Hack the limb into fireplace-sized pieces.
- Wait for winter.
Plans are funny, aren’t they?
Now, in reviewing the plan, there was one major flaw: The chainsaw chain was getting pretty dull. It’s not that this would have necessitated a run to a store or anything. I had another chain in the garage, and I was fairly confident I could change it in 15 minutes, tops. Instead, I thought, I’ll change it after this limb.
The less-than-sharp chain failed to cut straight through the limb. It got about halfway through and got stuck. I had to wiggle the saw back and forth to get it free and, in the process, the limb sort of cracked.
No problem. I can handle that. But instead of pausing at that point to take the signs of the chainsaw gods and go change the chain, I kept going.
This was when things went awry. Instead of the saw going straight through the second half of the limb, one part snapped first, which meant that rather than fall straight down, the limb sorta swung.
… Directly into the ladder.
That’s when my brain got super efficient.
There was this moment I realized that I was, in fact, going to fall, and my brain smartly did what it should have done: Send an urgent message to my arm to get the chainsaw as far away from my body as possible. I’m pretty sure I actually chucked it a bit, but I’m not certain of that. What I am certain of is that the revving slowed down and I still have all digits and appendages.
With that problem largely taken care of, my brain switched to the next most urgent thing: The ground and the fact that the falling ladder was between me and it.
“Sorry bud,” said the brain, “But you’re not getting out of this unscathed. Yet remember those karate lessons you took when you were 12 and 13? Now’s a good time to recall what you learned.”
And so it came to pass that, at the moment of really solid contact between my right shin, left knee and the ladder, I tucked my head and executed one boss forward roll.
Better still? Wifey Poo was outside pulling weeds, and though she failed to see the start of the fall, she looked up just in time to see her hot hubby perform this extremely sexy ninja maneuver.
Now, I’d like to think that, were I a few years younger, I could have done what I learned to do back in the day in Sensei Takahashi’s classes, which is to pop up from the roll and prepare to fight. Alas, I’m 48, not 13. So I ended up on my butt and was able to watch first-hand as the swelling on my right shin began, as well as check out the awesome dent in my left knee.
All is well. Ice helped, as did Aleve when my body chose to remind me later in the day that I am, in fact, too old to be falling off of ladders and not paying some sort of price. But when I think about what could have happened vs. what did happen, yeah, I’m OK with the outcome.
There were a few moments while sitting on the ground doing a systems check following my ladder escapade that I wondered if I would be able to make the Shinedown concert that night.
Thankfully, I did.
I absolutely love Shinedown, especially live. This was the fourth time I’ve seen them, all of them with Boy The Elder. This time, Boy The Younger and Wifey Poo came along for their second SD concert. Brent Smith and company give an awesome show. They connect with the crowd as no other musician I’ve ever seen can. The Hollywood Casino Amphitheater was absolutely packed with 18,000 people who rocked out.
I have this mental list going as of late of musicians whose work is something more than mere music but rather a reflection of the thing that is what human life should be all about. Shinedown is at or near the top of that list. Their music sees through the bullshit and speaks to the heart of what life needs to be. Their latest album, Planet Zero, is a commentary on that. But for nearly 20 years now, their work has evolved to become some of the most inspired music I’ve ever heard.
To be there and share that with the rest of the Core Four was epic. To watch my boys totally in it together, singing every word, jumping up and down, was priceless. To be their with Wifey Poo and listen to Daylight performed live … that was everything to me. She very much saved my life. She very much always made sure I saw the daylight. More than once. Hell, more than twice.
For those not in the know, this section of my website is called “A Puzzle Known as Life.” That’s taken directly from a Shinedown lyric, in their song 45.
In a box, high up on a shelf, left for you, no one else/There’s a piece of a puzzle known as life/Wrapped in guilt, sealed up tight.
I have taken that box down over the past year and dealt with what’s in it. It’s been hard. It’s bee ugly. But in the process, I’ve figured out where to place a lot of life’s puzzle pieces.
Yet it’s a big puzzle. There are lots of pieces remaining. And hey … surprise-surprise, I’m still here.
Last night? Last night was amazing.
The morning after a weeknight concert is always challenging, even more so now that my job is a must-work-from-work one and my regular start time is between 7:30 and 8 a.m. No one is checking up on me, but still …
There was a time — and it wasn’t all that long ago — that I would feel incredibly guilty for having a day in which not much work got done. I worked incredibly hard and learned it’s possible to suffer from burnout without working 50, 60 or 70-plus hours a week. I thought by keeping my hours down and working hard, hard, hard for every moment I was there, I was doing the right thing. I suffered because of it. My family suffered because of it.
Nowadays, I know that I’m blessed with the ability to do a full day’s work in less than the hours that make up a full day. So there are days in which I do that. I do what a reasonable person would be expected to complete, and then I slow down. I talk to my co-workers. I do some skill-advancement work. I, dare I say, goof off a little bit and occasionally pay the bills or read an interesting article on the interwebs?
My output and quality remains sky-high, but I have mental capacity and stamina to be more present after work and on weekends.
Oh, if only I could go back in time and talk to Younger Me.
So today, yeah, I’m fallin’ asleep at my desk, metaphorically. But was it 100% worth it to stay to the very last second of the concert last night?
Liner Notes 45Shinedown from the 2003 album ‘Leave a Whisper’ Lyric to remember In a box, high up on the shelf, left for you, no one else/There’s a piece of a puzzle known as life, wrapped in guilt, sealed up tight. Quotable “The box is your memories, the things in your life you’ve kept very…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- That post-concert high ain’t wearing off anytime soon.
- There’s more music out there I haven’t listened to.
- There are more memories to make with the C4.
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🧩 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
🧩 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
🧩 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
🧩 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
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 email@example.com. No. 5: I reached out to a friend I have not been shy about sharing that I’ve…Keep reading
🧩 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
🧩 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
🧩 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
🧩 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
🧩 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
🧩 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
🧩 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
🧩 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
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sunday audible🤒Fantasy Failure 🏈Anal Chess♟️ Sunday was supposed to be a romantic day spent in a canoe with Wifey Poo, the two of us paddling leisurely down the Meramec River. Mother Nature was not in the mood to play wingman and decided to pick the one day in the midst of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Finish Line Scene 🏃♂️Baseball’s Better ⚾M-I-Z! Z-O-UC-H! 🏈 I have never understood the modern-day purpose of running for the sake of running. Sure, I understand it’s a great form of cardiovascular exercise and it’s a convenient way to get from Point A to Point B, yet the desire to strap on…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Book Guy 📚Queen Stuff 👑Bernard Shaw 📺 I’ve decided I want to own a copy of every Stephen King book ever written. That’s about 75 books at the moment. I have a built-in bookcase in my mancave/home office. I don’t think it would hold all 75 in hardcover, but perhaps it…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beginnings 📚School Start 🚌Real Baseball ⚾ I was thinking this morning on my drive to work how we rarely know when the significant times in our lives begin. So frequently, the most important things that happen to us start with nothing noteworthy. Of course, there are exceptions, the “love-at-first-sight” moments or…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Overview📅Fantasy Football🏈Elite Bonding🤼♂️ Days that start with chainsaws and lighter fluid and end with four hours of really good professional wrestling are bound to be added to the “good” column for review when the scales are weighed at the end of a life. Yesterday was such a day for me. In…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Funeral 😢Glimmers ☁️Meat 🥩 If you’re lucky, you’ve had a second mother. Whether your first mother was or is an amazing person who nurtured you and raised you among calm consistency or if she was lacking in certain maternal fundamentals, having a second mother is a blessing. Today, we were there…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩We’re Dumber 👎OnlyFans Thrives 🍑Shinedown 🎵 Official statistics put the COVID death toll in the United States at 1.04 million, with another 713 deaths yesterday. More than 4,000 people are in the ICU right now suffering from what the former Moron-in-Chief called that one person coming from China and a situation…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dethroned Queen 👑Gravy Wrestling 🤼♂️Dog Talk 🐕 Don’t fuck with the Bucyrus Bratwurst Festival board. That’s a message Abigail Brocwell is learning the hard way. Brocwell was expected to be inaugurated as the queen of the festival in the northern Ohio town earlier this month, but she was stripped of the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩3, Unassisted ⚾A Sad Day 📅Tracking Your Vagina 🌸 The last time Boy The Younger was on a baseball field, the “coach” of his team removed him from a game in the middle of an inning because I had privately messaged him to not attempt to steal home with my kid…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hydrogen Issue 🚀Karting 🏎️Lake Life 😌 I was all excited to watch the launch of the moon-bound Artemis 1 rocket this morning, only to see the clock stopped at T-minus 40 minutes because of a “hydrogen issue.” Don’t know about you, but I’m thinking having an issue with hydrogen is a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Karen in Control ⌚Karting 🏎️What podcast? 🎧 In the winter of 1993, I went to a comedy club with a friend and, in the spur of the moment, decided to be one of those who came forward to join the fun and be hypnotized. This was decidedly out of character for…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little League Flap ⚾Grandpa Joe 🤦Psychedelics 🍄 Boys are interesting creatures who aren’t easily understood. One of the many, many weird things boys do is mercilessly make fun of their best friends. My closest friends in middle school and early in high school were affectionately nicknamed Goon, Tree Frog, Butt and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 Death Cometh Sooner 💀Twitter Security 🔓Game Over 🌑 Average life expectancy in the United States dropped in 2020 by almost two years in 2020, the biggest decline since World War II. Every state and the District of Columbia saw a drop. Guess it was a little bit more than that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Worm brain 🧠Chicken Big Mac 🐔Eye Twitch 👁️ Caenorhabditis elegans is probably too elegant of a name for something that is really just a disgusting little worm about a millimeter long and most easily found in rotting fruit. It is more commonly known as a lab roundworm and was the first…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Agliata Homeschool Academy 🚌Hypnosis 😳Sunburn 🌞🔥 When you tell people you homeschool your children, you typically receive one of three responses: An enthusiastic: “Oh, that’s so cool!”An I’d-rather-be-dipped-in-acid: “Oh wow! I could never do that!” A you’re-one-of-those-weirdos: “Oh… really… homeschooling, huh?” The percentage for each has changed in the wake…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Indycar 🏎️Best Friends 😎Baseball Irony ⚾ There are certain people who look at car racing as an endless series of left turns. These people are idiots on whom nuance is lost. Boy The Elder and I crossed the border yesterday late-morning to head just past the fine city of East St.…Keep reading
🧩 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